Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - September 26, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Govt raises limit for use of SDRF funds by states from 35 per cent to 50 per cent to tackle COVID situation

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Disaster and disaster management.


Context

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that the limit of using the State Disaster Response Fund for COVID specific infrastructure has been increased from 35 per cent to 50 per cent.
  • The decision will help States have more finances at their disposal to fight the virus.

Background

  • There was a need to further strengthen health infrastructure to tackle COVID.
  • These States and UTs are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
  • More than 63 per cent of the active cases of the country are concentrated in these six States and a Union Territory.

Highlights

  • There is a need to improve the network of tracking and tracing, and ensure better training.
  • The country needs to not only keep fighting the virus, but also move ahead boldly on the economic front.
  • The need to increase focus on effective testing, tracing, treatment, surveillance and clear messaging.
  • The Chief Ministers appreciated the leadership of the Prime Minister during this crisis period.
  • They gave feedback to the Prime Minister about the situation on the ground, talked about the challenges being faced by their States in controlling the spread of the virus and the preparation done till now to meet the expanding challenges by ramping up health infrastructure.

Source: AIR News.

Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, 2020

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • Parliament passed a Bill that seeks to provide a legal framework for bilateral netting of qualified financial contracts.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman termed the Bill as critical for financial stability in the country, and said it brings in a firm legal basis for bilateral netting for two counter parties.
Objective
  • Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill covers financial contracts entered into on bilateral basis outside clearing system.
  • It'll empower financial regulators RBI, SEBI, IRDAI etc.
  • They'll notify contract under its purview as qualified financial contractor.
  • This Bill, if passed, will have a very big bearing on the financial stability of India and we'll have a buoyant market as a result of which business will have greater, affordable resources.

Highlights

  • Bilateral contracts constitute 40 per cent of total financial contracts while multilateral contracts constitute 60 per cent.
  • The Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha on September 14, 2020.
  • The Bill seeks to provide a legal framework for bilateral netting of qualified financial contracts which are over the counter derivatives contracts.
  • Netting refers to offsetting of all claims arising from dealings between two parties, to determine a net amount payable or receivable from one party to other.
  • The Bill allows for enforcement of netting for qualified financial contracts.
  • Qualified financial contracts (QFC) means any bilateral contract notified as a QFC by the relevant authority.
  • The authority can be Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) or International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).
  • The Central government may, by notification, exclude contracts between certain parties or containing certain terms from being designated as QFCs.
  • The relevant authority may, by notification, designate an entity regulated by it as a qualified financial market participant to deal in QFCs.
  • This would include entities such as non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), insurance companies and pension funds.
  • The provisions of the Bill will apply to QFCs between two qualified financial market participants, where at least one party is an entity regulated by the specified authorities (RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, PFRDA or the IFSCA).
  • The Bill provides that netting of QFCs is enforceable if the contract has a netting agreement.
  • Netting agreement is an agreement that provides for the netting of amounts involving two or more QFCs.
  • A netting agreement may also include a collateral arrangement.
  • Collateral arrangement is a form of security provided for one or more QFCs in a netting agreement.
  • It may include a pledge of assets, or an arrangement to transfer the title to collateral or a third-party guarantor.

Source: PIB.

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Railways target to complete 100% electrification of broad gauge routes by 2023

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • Railways have planned for 100 per cent electrification of its broad gauge routes by 2023.
  • This was stated by the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Highlights

  • The Minister informed that around 63 per cent broad gauge lines have already been electrified out of a total 63,631 route kilometers as on 1st of April this year.
  • He said, a total of 23,765 route kilometre lines are yet to be electrified in the country.
  • In another question, the Railway Minister said, the vacant land of Railways which is not required for its immediate operational needs is utilized in the interim period for commercial development to mobilize additional financial resources.
  • He said, station redevelopment is planned by leveraging real estate potential of spare able land and air spaces in and around the station by inviting private participation.

Source: AIR News.

NHIDCL expedites DPR work on Shinkun La Tunnel

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • To augment border infrastructure, the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) has expedited making detailed project report for the world''s longest high-altitude Shinkun La Tunnel.
  • The tunnel is proposed to be built on the border between Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Once it is complete, the Manali-Kargil highway will remain open throughout the year.

Background

  • NHIDCL under Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has speeded up the detailed project report work on the World’s Longest High-Altitude Shinkun La Tunnel (13.5 Km long) along with its approach roads in UT of Ladakh and Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • The government is giving priority to build infrastructure in border areas of union territory (UT) of Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.

Highlights

  • The tunnel (13.5 Km long) is proposed to be built on the border between Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Once it is complete, the Manali-Kargil highway will remain open throughout the year.
  • The tunnel will provide all-weather road connectivity between Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir in Zanskar valley.
  • With the construction of the tunnel, inhabitants of around 15-odd villages of Zanskar Valley in Jammu and Kashmir will be relieved since the valley remains cut off due to heavy snowfall during the winter. 

Source: Outlook.

International Day of Sign Languages 2020

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • International Day of Sign Languages is observed annually on September 23, along with the celebrations of International Week of the Deaf.
  • It was first celebrated in 1958 and has since evolved into a global movement for deaf unity, one that focuses on raising awareness about the importance of sign language as a means of communication and in ‘full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf,’ according to the United Nations.

Background

  • The World Federation of the Deaf first made the proposal for this day on December 19, 2017.
  • September 23 is in itself a significant date as it marks the day the World Federation of the Deaf was first established in 1951.

Highlights

  • This day is particularly significant as it presents the opportunity to ‘support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users.’
  • According to data collected by the World Federation of the Deaf, there are around 72 million deaf people in the world, and over 300 different sign languages are used by them.
  • Though in essence, sign languages structurally differ from spoken language, they are full-fledged natural languages, even in its many forms.
  • On a global scale, there is an international sign language which is used for official meeting or even when informally travelling and socializing.

About the day

  • The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, acknowledges and encourages the use of sign language.
  • It also recognises that sign languages are equal in status to spoken languages.
  • Early access to sign language, like quality education available in sign language is essential to the growth and development of deaf individuals.
  • According to the United Nations, “It recognises the importance of preserving sign languages as a part of linguistic and cultural diversity.”
  • For the year 2020, the World Federation of the Deaf has issued a ‘Global Leaders Challenge’, which is being organised to promote the use of sign language by locals, national and global leaders who are in partnerships with national association of deaf people in each country.

Source: Hindustan Times.

World Maritime Day 2020

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • World Maritime Day is observed on September 24 to mark the contribution of international maritime industries towards the economy of the world especially shipping.
  • Every year the International Maritime Organization (IMO) celebrates World Maritime Day.
  • The exact date is left to individual Governments but, it is usually celebrated during the last week in September, generally the last Thursday of the month.

Objective

  • World Maritime Day focuses on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security, and the marine environment.
  • It aims to raise awareness about the importance of shipping safety, maritime security, and the marine environment.

Highlights

  • The theme for 2020 World Maritime Day is "Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet".
  • This theme is to focus on providing an opportunity to raise awareness of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The shipping industry, with the support of the IMO regulatory framework, has already started the transition towards this sustainable future.
  • Amid the Covid-19 the day will be celebrated in the form of an online event, due to social distancing measures caused by the pandemic.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the professionalism and sacrifice of the two million seafarers who serve on the world’s merchant fleet.
  • Shipping has continued to transport more than 80% of world trade, including vital medical supplies, food, and other basic goods that are critical for the Covid-19.
  • Hundreds of thousands of seafarers face a humanitarian crisis as they have been stranded at sea, unable to get off the ships they operate with contracts extended by many months.

About the day

  • The world relies on a safe, secure, and efficient international shipping industry, which is an essential component of any program for future sustainable green economic growth in a sustainable manner.
  • International shipping transports more than 80 percent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world.
  • World Maritime Day was first held on March 17, 1978, to mark the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force in 1958.
  • The IMO’s original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) but the name was changed in 1982 to IMO.
  • Shipping is the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for most goods; it provides a dependable, low-cost means of transporting goods globally, facilitating commerce, and helping to create prosperity among nations and peoples.
  • The membership of IMO includes virtually all the nations of the world with an interest in maritime affairs, including those involved in the shipping industry and coastal states with an interest in protecting their maritime environment.

Source: India Today.

Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state

Focus: GS2.                                

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.


Context

  • Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state in the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will be dropped as monarch by Barbados next year.
  • The prosperous West Indies nation will make history by becoming the first country in almost three decades to sever ties with the British royal family and become a republic.

Background

  • After Barbados became independent in 1966 after 341 years of British rule, it chose to retain a formal link with the British royal family, as did other self-governing Commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia.
  • However, the decision to not sever ties completely was not without controversy, and even the first prime minister of Barbados had thought to do so.

Highlights

  • In 1998, a constitutional review commission in the country recommended that Barbados become a republic.
  • The announcement does not come as a surprise to Britain, and both the British royal family and the UK foreign ministry have reacted by saying that the decision was up to the people of Barbados.
  • The Caribbean nation is, however, expected to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the 54-nation club of mostly former British colonies which is led by the queen, and includes India.
  • In the Caribbean region, Barbados will now follow the lead of Guyana, who dropped the queen as head of state in 1970, Trinidad and Tobago in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.
  • The decision could also have an effect on Jamaica, whose prime minister has pledged to hold a referendum on the topic.
  • The Royal family’s legal ties with India were severed after the country became a republic in 1950, but continued with Pakistan, which did not adopt its first constitution until 1956.

Source: AIR News.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements wrt Nobel Foundation:
  1. The Nobel Foundation is a private institution founded in 1900 to manage the finances and administration of the Nobel Prizes.
  2. The Foundation is based on the last will of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of electricity.
  3. It is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

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: C

  • The Foundation is based on the last will of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of electricity.

  1. Age Appropriate Fitness Protocols is released by the Ministry of:

    A. Youth Affairs and Sports
    B. Health and Family Affairs
    C. Home Affairs
    D. Both A and B

Solution: D

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