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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 29TH DECEMBER 2019

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Q.1 Consider the following statements about Round Table Conferences

 

  1. Indian National Congress attended the third round table conference.
  2. Sarojini Naidu was the sole representative of Congress in Round Table Conference

 

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

A. 1 only

B. 2 only

C. Both 1 and 2

D. None of the Above

 

Q.2 All India Anti-Untouchability League was formed by

A. B R Ambedkar

B.M R Jayakar

C.Mahatma Gandhi

D.E V Ramawswamy Naicker

 

Q.3 Resolution on National Economic Programme was adopted in which session of the Indian National Congress

A.Karachi Session

B. Lahore Session

C. Haripura Session

D. Madras Session

 

RUPAY AND UPI

NEWS: Digital transactions made using RuPay credit cards or UPI QR codes will not attract additional charges for merchants or customers from the beginning of next year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.

All shops, business establishments and companies with an annual turnover of ₹50 crore or more have been mandated to offer these modes of payment to customers.

The Department of Revenue will soon notify RuPay and UPI as the prescribed mode of payment for digital transactions without any Merchant Discount Rate (MDR)

RBI and banks will absorb these costs from the savings that will accrue to them on account of handling less cash as people move to these digital modes of payment.

At that time, the Payments Council of India — an industry lobby group — had said an MDR waiver would hurt companies in the payments system.

It argued that the cost should be borne by the government instead of banks, which would have no incentive to promote digital payments without MDR revenues.

WHAT IS MDR?

The Merchant Discount Rate is the percentage of the digital transaction that a merchant pays to banks. This cost is often passed on to the customer.

ABOUT RUPAY

RuPay is an Indian domestic card scheme conceived and launched by the National Payments Corporation of India.

It was created to fufill the RBI desire to have a domestic, open loop and multilateral system of payments in India.

RuPay facilitates electronic payment at all Indian banks and financial institutions and competes with Master Card and Visa in India.

 

 About 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.

Benefits for banks:

  • Single click Two Factor authentication.
  • Universal Application for transaction.
  • Leveraging existing infrastructure.
  • Safer, Secured and Innovative.
  • Payment basis Single/ Unique Identifier.
  • Enable seamless merchant transactions.

 

Benefits for end Customers:

  • Round the clock availability.
  • Single Application for accessing different bank accounts.
  • Use of Virtual ID is more secure, no credential sharing.
  • Single click authentication.
  • Raise Complaint from Mobile App directly.

 

Benefits for Merchants:

  • Seamless fund collection from customers – single identifiers.
  • No risk of storing customer’s virtual address like in Cards.
  • Tap customers not having credit/debit cards.
  • Suitable for e-Com & m-Com transaction.
  • Resolves the COD collection problem.
  • Single click 2FA facility to the customer – seamless Pull.
  • In-App Payments (IAP).

 

INDIAN HISTORY CONGRESS

NEWS: The inaugural session of the 80th Indian History Congress (IHC) here on Saturday was marred by protests staged by a section of delegates against Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan over his comments backing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

The protesters alleged that Mr. Khan had raised the Kashmir issue and the CAA to provoke them.

In his address, the Governor tried to defend the BJP-led government and discredit the protests against the CAA and the NRC. He said the anti-CAA protesters in the State had failed to respond to his invitation to hold talks on the issue.

ABOUT INDIAN HISTORY CONGRESS

Indian History Congress is the largest professional and academic body of Indian historians with over 10,000 members.

It was established in 1935.

The lead to establish an all-India national congress of historians was taken by Poona historians during the period of British colonial rule. The first session took place in Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal, Poona, in 1935.

Historians such as Datto Vaman Potdar, Surendra Nath Sen (who later became the first director of National Archives of India), and Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan attended the first session.

 

NEW MISSIONS OF ISRO

NEWS: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to fly the first unmanned test mission ahead of its ambitious crewed Gaganyaan mission by the end of 2020, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said here on Saturday.

The ISRO had announced plans for a December 2021 launch for the crewed Gaganyaan mission.

Chandrayaan-3 would be a copy of Chandrayaan-2, except that it would not carry an orbiter.

The ISRO hoped to complete the 100th mission of its reliable workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle by 2024, he said.

ABOUT ISRO

  • ISRO was formed on 15 August 1969.
  • It superseded the Indian  National Committee for Space Research formed in 1962.
  • It is managed by Department of space which reports to the PM of India .
  • ISRO launched India’s first satellite Aryabhata on 19 April 1975 from Soviet Union.
  • Rohini was the first satellite to be launched on Indian launch vehicle.
  • Headquarter: Bengaluru
  • Chariman: K Sivan

 

CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

NEWS:

The number of travellers from Bangladesh to India has dipped as protests erupted across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

In October, India announced easing of restrictions on visitors from Bangladesh with valid papers through land ports. However, reports suggest travel disruption and cancellations.

Following the protests against the CAA, the Dhaka Tribune has reported a nearly 50% reduction in the flow of visitors from Bangladesh through the Hili Immigration Check Post in South Dinajpur, West Bengal.

The decline in the number of travellers and growing apprehension goes against the spirit of the Joint Statement released during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in October, when India agreed to remove remaining restrictions for overland travellers to foster better people-to-people and business ties. India removed similar restrictions against Bangladesh air travellers in 2017.

WHAT DOES THE ACT CONTAINS?

The ACT seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by seeking to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

The ACT says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant” for violating provisions under Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 that pertains to foreigners entering and staying in India illegally.

The ACT shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the sixth schedule of the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

ACT has reduce the time period required for naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for members of these communities.

 

HEALTH OF PUBLIC SECTOR BANKS

Out of 19 public sector banks (PSBs) that had posted losses in 2018-19, 13 have returned to profitability in the first half of 2019-20, while gross non-performing assets (NPAs) had fallen 18% since last March.

Gross NPAs of PSBs had fallen from ₹8.96 lakh crore in March 2018 to ₹7.27 lakh crore in September 2019 with provision coverage ratio rising to more than 76%, the highest level in seven years, according to a Ministry statement.

Responding to concerns over “undue harassment” by enforcement agencies hampering banks from taking lending decisions, Ms. Sitharaman said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would not take suo motu action without referral from internal bank vigilance committees.

The Minister said similar meetings would be held with the Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and Customs Department to ensure that undue apprehensions did not hinder lending.

To aid debt recovery, the Ministry has launched e-Bkraya, a common e-auction platform to sell 1.73 lakh properties, worth ₹2.3 lakh crore, that have been attached by PSBs over the last three years.

 

FOREIGN PORTFOLIO INVESTMENT

NEWS: The year 2019 saw foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) betting big on Indian equities with total inflows breaching the ₹1 lakh-crore mark only for the fourth time ever and the first since 2013.

According to data from the National Securities Depository Ltd. (NSDL), FPIs have been net buyers at a little over ₹1 lakh crore in the current calendar year, the highest since 2013 when they net bought Indian shares worth ₹1.13 lakh crore.

Further, the year also saw FPIs pumping in almost ₹34,000 crore in March, which was the highest-ever single-month flows registered ever. Since September, FPIs have been net buyers in every single month with the cumulative flows until December pegged at about ₹51,500 crore.

Not surprisingly, the year also saw the benchmark indices breaching record levels on various occasions with the 30-share Sensex touching a high of 41,810 on December 20. FPIs are often considered to be the prime drivers of any bull run in the Indian stock markets.

ABOUT FOREIGN PORTFOLIO INVESTMENT

Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) is investment by non-residents in Indian securities including shares, government bonds, corporate bonds, convertible securities, infrastructure securities etc

SEBI has recently stipulated the criteria for Foreign Portfolio Investment. According to this, any equity investment by non-residents which is less than or equal to 10% of capital in a company is portfolio investment. While above this the investment will be counted as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

 

ISSUE: IS THE ECONOMY IN REALLY BAD SHAPE

WHY CONCERNS ABOUT ECONOMY?

On November 30 this year, India’s statistical machinery revealed that growth in the quarter from July to September had slipped to 4.5%. This was the lowest level recorded in six-and-a-half years, with the 6.1% nominal GDP growth (real growth plus inflation) coming in as the slowest in a decade.

Growth in the first half of this financial year has been just 4.8%, compared to 7.5% in the same period of 2018-19.

Fixed investment slumped to 1%, private consumption growth halved year on year, and manufacturing activity contracted by 1%.

ECONOMY HAS MOVED TOWARDS STAGFLATION

Retail inflation is at 40-month high of 5.54% in November, more than double the 2.3% recorded a year ago. Food inflation hit 10%, led by vegetables (think of onions) and pulses. This has led to worries about India entering a phase of stagflation, where growth and employment are low but inflation is high — a difficult morass for policy makers to swim out of.

Why is former Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian calling it India’s great slowdown?

Mr. Subramanian has noted in a new working paper co-authored with Josh Felman for the Harvard University’s Center for International Development. “This is not an ordinary slowdown. It is India’s Great Slowdown, where the economy seems headed for the intensive care unit,” the paper stresses.

Comparing indicators for the first seven months of this financial year with the past, the two have made the case that the current slowdown is closer in nature to what was faced as far back as 1991 — the year India liberalised.

FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS SLOWDOWN

  1. Structural problems caused by significant deficiencies in the economy’s framework, such as archaic rules governing factor markets.
  2. Poor rural income growth,
  3. Demonetisation and
  4. Hastily implemented Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  5.  Four Balance Sheet challenge ( NPA’s of Banks, Overleveraged Companies, NBFC’s  and Real Estate Firms)

WHAT COULD BE DONE TO REVERSE THIS SLOWDOWN?

Focus on fixing the core crisis afflicting India’s financial entities, create a sense of certainty and predictability about India’s policy direction, be it in taxation matters or reforms of labour, land and other restrictive laws, could provide some salve to the bleeding economy.

 

ISSUE: DETENTION CENTRES

What are detention centres?

The Centre has the power to deport foreign nationals staying illegally in the country under Section 3(2)(c) of The Foreigners Act, 1946.

State governments have also been entrusted under Article 258(1) of the Constitution to take similar steps.

In 1998, the MHA under the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government wrote a letter to all States and Union Territories asking them to restrict the movement of convicted foreign nationals who had completed their jail sentence.

The letter said that they be confined to one of the detention centres/camps, pending confirmation of their nationality from the country concerned and to ensure their physical availability at all times for expeditious repatriation/deportation as soon as the travel documents are ready.

The centres are also used to hold foreigners who have been caught overstaying their visa term.

Which are the States that already have detention centres?

Delhi has one detention centre at Lampur on the outskirts. It is under the operational control of the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) and is maintained by the Delhi government. The ward holding Pakistanis is under the watch of the Special Branch of Delhi Police and other nationalities are under the FRRO. Both FRRO and the Delhi Police report to the MHA.

A detention centre was set up at Mapusa in Goa on February 7.

Rajasthan has a detention centre located inside Central Jail in Alwar.

As of now there is no separate detention centre in Punjab and foreigner detenues are kept in a segregated place at Central Jail in Amritsar. A separate detention centre is going to come up in a new jail being constructed in Goindwal Sahib in Tarn Taran district that is expected to be completed by May 2020.

A detention centre on the outskirts of Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru is all set to get operational from January 1, 2020 onwards.

Maharashtra identified land to build a detention centre at Nerul in Navi Mumbai. But Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray assured a delegation that it was not connected to NRC. There is a report that the plan has been scrapped.

What about West Bengal and Kerala?

West Bengal had identified two locations, at New Town in Kolkata and Bongaon in North 24 Parganas district to construct the detention centres. But on Friday Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will not allow any such centre in the State. Kerala, which was in the process of identifying a location to build a centre, has put it on hold.

 

ISSUE: DETENTION OF MINORS

What does the Juvenile Justice Act say about detention of minors?

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 has specific procedures and rules in relation to children found to be in conflict with the law.

Under Section 10, it says that as soon as a child alleged to be in conflict with law is apprehended by the police, the child shall be placed under the charge of the special juvenile police unit or the designated child welfare police officer.

That officer in turn, should produce the child before the Juvenile Justice Board within a period of 24 hours excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place where the child was picked up.

What are the statutory bodies responsible for protecting the rights of children in India?

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is a statutory body set up in 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.

The objective of the commission is to protect, promote and defend child rights in India including the rights adopted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 — with an accession by India in 1992.

The same convention defines a child as being a human being under 18.

The commission works under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. State Commissions for the protection of child’s rights are also to be established under its supervision.

What are the powers of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)?

The powers given to the commission are extremely broad.

It examines and reviews the safeguards provided under any law for the protection of child rights and recommends measures to the government. It can present a report annually, or as it deems fit, for implementation of these measures.

The commission can also inquire into the violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in such cases.

While inquiring into such matters, the NCPCR has the powers of a civil court. In addition it has a host of other powers in terms of commissioning research and framing policy for child protection and safety.

Has the NCPCR intervened in the matter of minors being detained during the anti-CAA protests?

Not directly. When the protests first started, the NCPCR, on December 14, issued an advisory to the Directors General of Police of all States regarding the “use of children in unlawful activities like stone-pelting during the protests in various States against the amended Citizenship Act”.

The NCPCR said that that such use of children violates the rights of children under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

 

SUN’S CORONA

Solar physicists from Centre for Excellence in Space Sciences (CESSI), IISER Kolkata, have succeeded in predicting the shape of Sun’s corona at the time of the annular eclipse on December 25.

While the earlier prediction differed slightly from the actual image, this time, it has been pretty close to the real thing. This was imaged by NASA and European Space Agency’s space-based Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) using the LASCO instrument.

ABOUT CORONA

The corona is the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere.

The corona is usually hidden by the bright light of the Sun’s surface.

That makes it difficult to see without using special instruments. However, the corona can be viewed during a total solar eclipse.

 

MALNUTRITION

NEWS: Globally over 200 million children below five years of age are chronically malnourished causing persistent problem in middle- and low-income countries.

Though India’s National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) show that there has been a decline in child malnutrition numbers in the country, various studies show that the rate of decline is very slow, and India is still fighting a tough battle.

Five important malnutrition indicators such as

  • stunting,
  • underweight,
  • wasting,
  • low birth weight, and
  • anaemia.

The team explains that though the Government of India’s new initiative National Nutrition Mission (NNM) has led to a progressive decline in child malnutrition, the decline has been slow and the improvements have not been equally distributed across the population.

Districts where the prevalence of malnutrition is uniformly high likely require a different intervention strategy compared with districts where prevalence is high but disproportionately shouldered amongst poorer households within the district. It is important to make sure progress on child nutrition is made both effectively and equitably.

Government Schemes to Tackle Malnutrition

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme
    • The scheme provides specific interventions targeted towards the vulnerable groups include children below 6 years and women.
    • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
    • It provides a package of six services namely supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, nutrition & health education, immunization, health check-up and referral services.
  • National Health Mission (NHM)
    • National Health Mission (NHM) was launched by the government of India in 2013.
    • It subsumed the National Rural Health Mission and the National Urban Health Mission.
    • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
    • It was further extended in March 2018, to continue till March 2020.
    • The main programmatic components include health system strengthening in rural and urban areas for – Reproductive-Maternal- Neonatal-Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A), and Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases.
  • Mid Day Meal Scheme
    • It was launched in 1995 as a centrally sponsored scheme.
    • It provides that every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrols and attends the school shall be provided with a hot cooked meal, free of charge every day except on school holidays.
    • The Mid Day Meal Scheme comes under the HRD Ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy.
  • Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna (IGMSY)
    • The scheme aims to contribute to a better enabling environment by providing cash incentives for improved health and nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers.
    • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development
  • National Nutritional policy 1993
    • The National Nutrition Policy (NNP) was adopted under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
    • The strategy of NNP was a multi-sectoral strategy for eradicating malnutrition and achieving optimum nutrition for all.
  • National Nutrition Mission seeks to ensure a “malnutrition free India” by 2022.
    • POSHAN Abhiyaan which is India’s flagship program, envisages improving nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women and lactating mothers, is a step in the right direction.
    • However, it would require long-term investments in health, sanitation and nutrition in preventing deaths due to severe acute malnutrition.

Way Forward

  • Multi-sectoral approach: Substantial improvements across malnutrition indicators in the states of India would require an integrated nutrition policy.
    • These improvements include providing clean drinking water, reducing rates of open defecation, improving women’s status, enhancing agricultural productivity and food security, promoting nutrition-sensitive agriculture.
    • Integrated nutrition policy can be brought by harmonization of efforts across ministries, political will and good governance.
    • Such coordinated efforts will ensure that essential nutrition services reach the most deprived communities.
  • Decentralisation: Panchayats should be allowed to have a bigger say in running welfare schemes.
  • Diversification: Public Distribution System should be diversified, to include millets.
  • Strengthen MGNREGA to ensure better food security.
    • MGNREGA can play a vital role in mitigating the disastrous effects of droughts in rural areas.

 

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