Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - September 19, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Rajya Sabha passes Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Context

  • The Rajya Sabha (RS) passed the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020.
  • The institute will be declared an institution of national importance following the passage of the bill and will be instrumental for the promotion of quality and excellence in education, research and training in Ayurveda.

About the aims and objective

  • The bill seeks to merge three institutes into one integrated centre. It will be called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, which will be based in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
  • It will be the first Ayurveda institution to be given the status of institution of national importance.

About the Highlights

  • The institution has been chosen in the most careful manner because it is the oldest Ayurveda centre created by the government way back in 1956.
  • This is the number one institution that deserves this status.
  • The Institute of Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurved Mahavidyalaya and the Indian Institute of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sciences will be merged with the Jamnagar-based proposed institute.
  • The proposed institute will be situated on the campus of Gujarat Ayurved University in Jamnagar.
  • In the past 20 years, students have come from 65 countries to learn in this institution. It has got international recognition in several fields and has helped in the growing popularity of Ayurveda.
  • It will set a precedent for other institutions that may also be included to the list in the near future.
  • Earlier, the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha’s budget session.

Source: Hindustan Times.

Bill to reduce MP/minister salaries passed in Lok Sabha

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Context

  • Two bills to reduce the salaries and allowances of MPs and ministers for one year have been introduced in Parliament.
  • This is being done to help supplement the financial resources necessary to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • These bills replace the Ordinances which have been in force since April this year.

Background

  • The salaries of MPs will be reduced by 30 percent from Rs 1,00,000 to Rs 70,000 for one year.
  • The sumptuary allowance of ministers will be reduced by 30 percent for the same duration.
  • This allowance is given to ministers to entertain visitors and is set at different levels for different ministers.

About the Highlights

  • In addition, through rules notified under the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, certain allowances of MPs were also reduced in April 2020.
  • These are constituency allowance and office expenses allowance.
  • These reductions will apply for one year effective from April 2020.
  • The proposed reduction to the salaries and allowances of MPs and ministers amounts to savings of around Rs 54 crore.
  • This is less than 0.001 percent of Rs 20 lakh crore which is the amount of the special economic package announced by the Centre, in light of COVID-19.
  • During the discussion on the bill in Lok Sabha, MPs supported the reduction of salaries and the bill was passed. This now needs to be passed in Rajya Sabha.
  • Parliament’s approval to revise the salaries of legislators brings up some questions on how they should be determined.

Source: Indian Express.

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Singapore Convention on Mediation comes into force

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests.


Context

  • The Singapore Convention on Mediation came into force on Saturday and will provide a more effective way for enforcing mediated settlements of corporate disputes involving businesses in India and other countries that are signatories to the Convention.
  • Also known as the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, this is also the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore.

Background

  • "With the Convention in force, businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders can do so by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty, instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract in accordance with each country''s domestic process," an official statement said.
  • The harmonised and simplified enforcement framework under the Convention translates to savings in time and legal costs, which is especially important for businesses in times of uncertainty, such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the statement issued by Singapore''s Ministry of Law said.

About the programme

  • An exclusive e-ITEC Bangla course for COVID-19 was organized by AIIMS Bhubaneswar in which over 150 trainees participated from all over Bangladesh.
  • Another online training for Provincial and District level administrative heads on ‘Good Governance Practices in a Pandemic’ was organized by the National Center for Good Governance, Mussoorie. 
  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur organised an e-ITEC course for Healthcare professionals in which more than 90 health care professionals from Bangladesh participated. 

About the Convention

  • As on September 1, the Convention has 53 signatories, including India, China and the US.
  • According to the statement, the Convention, which entered into force, would boost India’s ''ease of doing business'' credentials by enabling swift mediated settlements of corporate disputes.
  • Businesses in India and around the world will now have greater certainty in resolving cross-border disputes through mediation, as the Convention provides a more effective means for mediated outcomes to be enforced.
  • Singapore had worked with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and other UN member states and non-governmental organisations to contribute to the development of the Convention.
  • Over the years, Singapore has set up various institutions to provide a full suite of dispute resolution services for international commercial parties to resolve their disputes in Singapore.
  • These include the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore International Mediation Centre and Singapore International Commercial Court.

Source: Outlook India.

Delhi Metro develops indigenous signalling technology under 'Make in India'

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has taken a major step towards the development of an indigenously built signalling technology for metro trains in line with the government's flagship 'Make in India' initiative. As part of it, i-ATS, an important sub-system of the signalling system, was launched, it said.

Background

"The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on Engineers Day (September 15) today took a major step towards the development of an indigenously-built CBTC (Communication Based Train Control) based signalling technology for metro railway with the launch of the i-ATS, which is an important sub-system of the signalling system," the DMRC said in a statement.

About ATS

  • ATS (Automatic Train Supervision) is a computer based system, which manages train operations.
  • This system is indispensable for high density operations such as the metro, where services are scheduled every few minutes, it said.
  • i-ATS is the indigenously developed technology, which will significantly reduce the dependence of Indian metros on foreign vendors dealing with such technologies, officials said.
  • Technology systems such as the CBTC are primarily controlled by the European countries and Japan.
  • As part of the 'Make in India' initiative of the government of India, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has decided to indigenize the CBTC technology, the statement said.

About the Highlights

  • It can work with Train Control & Signaling Systems of different suppliers.
  • i-ATS can work with different levels of technology of Train control and Signalling systems.
  • It is also suitable for introduction in Indian Railways which is now introducing Centralized Train control, on a large scale, which uses part of ATS functions.
  • Predictive Maintenance module shall also be introduced in the Phase IV corridors using the i-ATS system, the statement said.

Source: Livemint.

Scientists developed Indian Brain Templates (IBT) and a Brain Atlas

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


Context

  • Neurologists, Neurosurgeons and Psychiatrists in India will be able to make an accurate assessment of patients using Indian Brain Templates (IBT) and a brain atlas.
  • The neuroscientists studied over 500 brain scans of Indian patients to develop five sets of Indian brain templates and a brain atlas for five age groups covering late childhood to late adulthood (six to 60 years).
About Brain template
  • It is a gross representation from various brain images to understand brain functionality in diseased conditions.
  • The Montreal Neurological Index (MNI) template that we currently use is based on Caucasian brains. 
  • The MNI template was made by averaging 152 healthy brain scans from just a small slice of the city’s population in North America. But Caucasian brains are different from Asian brains. 
  • Some countries have their own scale to measure the brain, we are still dependent on the Caucasian brain template. 
About the significance
  • The templates and atlas will provide more precise reference maps for areas of interest in individual patients with neurological disorders like strokes, brain tumours, and dementia.
  • These templates and atlas will be more useful in studies of the human brain and psychological functions which will help in our understanding of psychiatric illnesses like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, substance dependence, schizophrenia, and mood disorders.
  • It is will allow more reliable tracking of brain development and ageing, similar to how paediatricians monitor a child’s height or weight, for example, using a growth chart.
  • Validation experiments and comparisons with existing international templates found that using the NIMHANS IBTs for Indian brains significantly improved the accuracy of alignment and thereby noticeably reducing distortions, errors or biases in final reports of brain structure and function.

Source: The Hindu.

Can’t legalise same-sex marriage: Government

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Social empowerment.


Context

  • Marriage between same-sex couples is "not recognised by our laws, legal system, society and our values," the government's top lawyer told the Delhi High Court, opposing a petition to legalise gay marriages.
  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made the submission as the High Court heard a petition on legalizing same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and Special Marriage Act.

Background

  • Mr Mehta said: "Our laws, our legal system, our society and our values do not recognise marriage, which is a sacrament, between same-sex couples".
  • He said the petition asking for gay marriages to be legalized was "not permissible" for two reasons.
  • "Firstly, the petition is asking the court to legislate and secondly, any relief granted will run contrary to various statutory provisions. Unless court does violence to various laws, this cannot be done," said the Solicitor General.

About the Highlights

  • The court questioned the need for a petition, saying that people who claimed to be affected were well-educated and could themselves approach the court.
  • The counsel for the petitioner said the affected people were not coming forward as they feared reprisals and preferred a Public Interest Litigation.
  • The judges directed the petitioners, who include gay rights activists, to place facts about their efforts to register such marriages and said they would hear the case again on October 21.
  • The petition had argued that despite the Supreme Court decriminalizing consensual homosexual relationships, gay marriages were still not possible.
  • The Supreme Court in 2018 overturned a colonial-era law to decriminalize homosexuality.

Source: Indian Express.

RBI issues draft Rupee interest rate derivatives

Focus: GS3.                                

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


Context

  • The Reserve Bank proposed allowing foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to undertake exchange-traded rupee interest rate derivatives transactions subject to an overall ceiling of Rs 5,000 crore.
  • Interest Rate Derivatives (IRD) are contracts whose value is derived from one or more interest rates, prices of interest rate instruments, or interest rate indices.

Background

  • The proposed Rupee Interest Rate Derivatives (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2020 are aimed at encouraging higher non-resident participation, enhance the role of domestic market makers in the offshore market, improve transparency, and achieve better regulatory oversight, according to the RBI.
  • FPIs may transact in permitted exchange-traded IRDs subject to the conditions that, at any point in time "the net long position of FPIs, collectively, and across all exchanges, in exchange-traded IRDs shall not exceed Rs 5,000 crore", the draft regulations suggested.
  • Also, the net short position of an FPI on exchange-traded IRDs should not exceed its long position in government securities and other rupee debt securities.

About the Highlights

  • The RBI has sought comment on the Draft Rupee Interest Rate Derivatives (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2020 by October 15.
  • The draft further said for the purpose of offering Rupee IRD contracts to a user, the market-maker (entities which provide bid and offer prices to users in order to provide liquidity to the market) should classify the user either as a retail user or as a non-retail user.
  • Non-retail users, as per the draft, are entities regulated by RBI, SEBI, IRDAI or PFRDA; resident companies with a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore; and non-residents, other than individuals.
  • "Any user who is not eligible to be classified as a non-retail user shall be classified as a retail user," it said.

Source: Outlook India.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package:
  1. The ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19’ was announced on March 30 for 90 days and was extended for 90 days (up to September 25).
  2. This Central sector scheme provides an insurance cover of ₹50 lakh to healthcare providers who may have to be in direct contact and care of COVID-19 patients, and therefore is at risk of being infected.
  3. It covers private hospital staff/retired/volunteer/local urban bodies/contract/daily wage/ad-hoc/outsourced staff requisitioned by States/Central hospitals/autonomous hospitals of Central/States/UTs, AIIMS & INIs/hospitals of Central Ministries drafted for COVID-19 related responsibilities.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

    A. 1 and 2 only
    B. 2 and 3 only
    C. 1 and 3 only
    D. AOTA

 Solution: D

  1. The i-ATS (Automatic Train Supervision) is a computer-based system that manages train operation is launched in:
   A. Delhi Metro
   B. Mumbai Metro
   C. Kolkata Metro
   D. Bengaluru Metro

Solution: A



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