• Current Affairs , 6 December 2019

    • December 6, 2019
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    1. President of India presents the National Florence Nightingale Awards
    2. The Fifteenth Finance Commission submits its report for 2020-21 to the President of India
    3. Piyush Goyal inaugurates 3rd Edition of National Public Procurement Conclave
    4. Cabinet approves pact with Germany on Railways
    5. Bharat Bond Exchange Traded Fund
    6. Approval for land monetization
    7. WHO Working Group Meeting on developing Standardized Terminologies in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha
    8. Research Lab at Tiruchirappalli
    9. Study by Chandrayaan
    • First Manned Mission
    1. New Approach to Fertilizer Sector
    2. International Nurses Day
    3. Australian bushfires cause unprecedented pollution in Sydney
    4. Sri Lankan Prez invites Indian companies for investment in the country
    5. 13th South Asian Games : Indian women’s football team defeat Sri Lanka





    1. President of India presents the National Florence Nightingale Awards


    • The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, presented the National Florence Nightingale Awards to nursing personnel in New Delhi on the occasion of International Nurses Day.
    • Speaking on the occasion, the President said that nurses play a vital role in delivering quality and cost effective healthcare, addressing multiple health challenges and responding to health needs of individuals, families and communities. The world is more and more in need of care and compassion, and nurses indeed are a symbol of seva, shushrusha, karuna. For patients and their families, nurses are the face of healthcare services. He was happy to note that the World Health Organisation has announced 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Mid-wife.
    • The President said that we have an increasing number of elderly people who deserve and require proper geriatric care. In India, families take care of our elders in their old age. However, with changing lifestyles the demand for professional care-givers to take care of the elderly is on the rise. These care-givers, who need not be trained nurses, would certainly benefit from basic training in geriatric care. Our nursing training institutions can consider developing short training programs for such care-givers too.
    1. The Fifteenth Finance Commission submits its report for 2020-21 to the President of India


    • The Chairman of the 15thFinance Commission, Shri N.K. Singh, Members S/Shri Ajay Narayan Jha,  Ashok Lahiri,  Ramesh Chand, Anoop Singh and Secretary Shri Arvind Mehta today called on the President of  India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind and submitted the report of the Commission for the financial year 2020-21 for further necessary action.  The Commission apprised the President of the recommendations contained therein.
    • The XV Finance Commission was constituted by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution on 27November 2017 to make recommendations for a period of five years from 1st April 2020 to 31 March 2025.  The Commission had  a wide ranging Terms of Reference contained in the Presidential Notification.
    • Thereafter, the Gazette Notification dated 27 November 2019 mandated the XV Finance Commission to submit the report for the financial year 2020-21 by 30 November 2019 and thereafter the final report for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2026 by 30 October 2020.



    1. Piyush Goyal inaugurates 3rd Edition of National Public Procurement Conclave


    • Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Railways, Piyush Goyal along with Minister of State of Commerce and Industry, Som Parkash, inaugurated the 3rdedition of National Public Procurement Conclave in New Delhi today. The two-day conclave has been organized by Government e-Marketplace (GeM) in association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
    • GeM epitomizes the speed, skill and scale which is essential in an e-marketplace platform said Piyush Goyal in his inaugural address. He further said that GeM rests on the three pillars of openness, fairness and inclusiveness and is a symbol of a truly transparent e-marketplace.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister hoped that during this conclave a road map for the future of GeM will be put in place that will unify all government procurement, across all Ministries and Departments, of not only Government of India but State Governments and local bodies. He also hoped that during the two-day deliberations an actionable agenda will emerge that will facilitate work contracts in the form of tenders to be made available on the GeM portal in future. Further, he urged that, in order to take the GeM portal to the next level, it may be examined how to facilitate purchase from the GeM platform by contractors and sub-contractors of public sector undertakings, Ministries and Departments.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister hoped that the target of 5 lakh crore business through the GeM platform is achieved earlier than five years and in the future GeM will also be open for the citizens of India to procure their necessities so that the common man may benefit from lower cost of products and services that are available on GeM. However, Commerce and Industry Minister cautioned that quality of products and services must never be compromised and stringent mechanism be put in place for validation of complaints against poor quality of products and services that may be available on the platform.
    • Piyush Goyal welcomed all suggestions, from thousands of registered organizations for the two-day conclave, to make improvements in the GeM platform particularly in the process of accessing, onboarding and navigating through the platform, so that it leads to more transparency and availability of better quality of products and services. This will enable MSMEs, women entrepreneurs and the smallest of enterprises in the remotest corner of India to onboard products and services on GeM and it will also create a level playing field that promotes fair business practices and genuine competition among buyers.
    • Sixty-two stalls ranging from IT, electronic items, road safety equipment, security, furniture items, sports goods, health care, telecom, GIS solutions, home appliances and freight services have been put up for the participants and visitors to see during the two-day event.
    • Talleen Kumar, CEO GeM and other senior officials of GeM and Department of Commerce were present on this occasion.
    • GeM awards were also given away during the inaugural session. Awards were given to Central Ministries, States and PSUs in categories of super buyer, rising buyer and most compliant buyer (payments). Sellers were also awarded under super seller, seller with most orders, super seller (MSME), seller with most orders (MSME) and most promising startup categories.


    1. Cabinet approves pact with Germany on Railways

    • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was apprised of the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) between India and Germanyregarding cooperation on strategic projects in the field of Railways.  The Joint Declaration of Intent was signed last month.
    • Benefits:
    • Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of the Federal Republic of Germany will provide a platform to Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the field of Railways. The Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) will facilitate exchange of information expert meetings, seminars, technical visits and implementation of jointly agreed cooperation projects.
    • Background:
    • Ministry of Railways have signed Memorandums of Understanding/ Memorandums of Cooperation/ Administrative Arrangements/ Joint Declarations of Intent for technical cooperation in the rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways in respect of identified areas of cooperation, which inter alia, include high speed rail, speed raising of existing routes, development of world class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure etc.
    • The MoUs/ MoCs/ AAs/ JDIs facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/ workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.


    1. Bharat Bond Exchange Traded Fund


    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for creation and launch of Bharat Bond Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to create an additional source of funding for Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), Central Public Financial Institutions (CPFIs) and other Government organizations.  Bharat Bond ETF would be the first corporate Bond ETF in the country.


    Features of Bharat Bond ETF:

    ETF will be a basket of bonds issued by CPSE/CPSU/CPFI/any other Government organization Bonds (Initially, all AAA rated bonds)

    • Tradable on exchange
    • Small unit size Rs 1,000
    • Transparent NAV (Periodic live NAV during the day)
    • Transparent Portfolio (Daily disclosure on website)
    • Low cost (0.0005%)


    Bharat Bond ETF Structure:

    •   Each ETF will have a fixed maturity date
    •   The ETF will track the underlying Index on risk replication basis, i.e. matching Credit Quality and Average Maturity of the Index
    •   Will invest in a portfolio of bonds of CPSE, CPSU, CPFI or any other Government organizations that matures on or before the maturity date of the ETF
    • As of now, it will have 2 maturity series – 3 and 10 years. Each series will have a separate index of the same maturity series.


    Index Methodology:

    • Index will be constructed by an independent index provider – National Sock Exchange
    • Different indices tracking specific maturity years – 3 and 10 years


    Benefits of Bharat Bond ETF to investors:

    • Bond ETF will provide safety (underlying bonds are issued by CPSEs and other Government owned entities), liquidity (tradability on exchange) and predictable tax efficient returns (target maturity structure).
    • It will also provide access to retail investors to invest in bonds with smaller amount (as low as Rs. 1,000) thereby providing easy and low-cost access to bond markets.
    • This will increase participation of retail investors who are currently not participating in bond markets due to liquidity and accessibility constraints.
    • Tax efficiency compared to Bonds as coupons from the Bonds are taxed at marginal rates. Bond ETFs are taxed with the benefit of indexation which significantly reduces the tax on capital gains for investor.


    Bharat Bond ETF Benefits for CPSEs:

    • Bond ETF would offer CPSEs, CPSUs, CPFIs and other Government organizations an additional source of meeting their borrowing requirements apart from bank financing.
    • It will expand their investor base through retail and HNI participation which can increase demand for their bonds. With increase in demand for their bonds, these issuers may be able to borrow at reduced cost thereby reducing their cost of borrowing over a period of time.
    • Further, Bond ETF trading on the exchange will help in better price discovery of the underlying bonds.
    • Since a broad debt calendar to assess the borrowing needs of the CPSEs would be prepared and approved each year, it would inculcate borrowing discipline in the CPSEs at least to the extent of this investment.

    Developmental impact on Bond Markets:

    • Target Maturity Bond ETF is expected to create a yield curve and a ladder of Bond ETFs with different maturities across calendar years.
    • ETF is expected to create new eco-system – Market Makers, index providers and awareness amongst investors – for launching new Bond ETFs in India.
    • This is expected to eventually increase the size of bond ETFs in India leading to achieving key objectives at a larger scale – deepening bond markets, enhancing retail participation and reducing borrowing costs.



    1. Approval for land monetization


    • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the plan and authorised India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) to transfer 3.7 acres of land at Pragati Maidan on a 99 year fixed leasehold basisat a price of Rs. 611 crore in favour of the SPV, which will be formed by India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for development and operation of a five-star hotel.
    • The implementation of the International Exhibition and Convention Centre (IECC) project is in full swing and is scheduled to be completed in the year 2020-21.
    • In order to ensure completion of the hotel project at Pragati Maidan in a fast track mode, the SPV will take necessary steps including selecting a suitable developer and operator third party through a transparent competitive bidding process to construct, run and manage (directly or through a professional brand) the hotel on a long-term fixed lease basis.
    • In line with the vision of Government to revolutionise India’s infrastructure and tourism with the best of standards and service, ITPO is implementing its mega project of redevelopment of Pragati Maidan into world-class IECC. Throughout the World, a hotel facility is an integral part of any Meetings, Initiatives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) hub/destination.
    • The hotel facility is an integral part of IECC project which will promote India as a global Meetings, Initiatives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) hub and promote trade & commerce along with employment generation. The hotel will add value to IECC project and will benefit Indian trade & industry.
    • Additionally, the International Trade Fair which has lakhs of visitors and small traders participating every year will also benefit from this transformation of Pragati Maidan. Increased facilities and modern amenities will greatly benefit the participating traders, entrepreneurs and visitors. This will ensure higher turnout at the Trade Fair, revitalising it and providing a vibrant platform to expand their business horizons and promote Indian goods and services.


    1. WHO Working Group Meeting on developing Standardized Terminologies in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha



    • The three day meeting organized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the support of Ministry of AYUSH at Jamnagar to review the draft documents on Terminologies of Ayurveda, Unani & Siddha has laid a firm foundation for the globalisation efforts of these three AYUSH systems. The meeting was held during 2ndto 4th December, 2019 at the Institute of Post Graduate Teaching & Research in Ayurveda (IPGT&RA), Jamnagar, Gujarat. IPGT&RA is India’s oldest PG College for Ayurveda, and is also a designated WHO Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine.
    • The Standard International Terminologies Documents reviewed here were developed by WHO as part of its global strategy to strengthen the quality, safety and effectiveness of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM).  Development of these documents is included in the Project Collaboration Agreement (PCA) on Cooperation in the field of Traditional and Complementary Medicine under WHO strategy on T&CM covering the period 2014-2023 signed between World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. Traditional Medicines are an important integral part of Universal Health Coverage Program especially under Sustainable Developmental Goal-3 (SDG-3) of United Nations.
    • In the WHO Working Group Meetings (WGMs), each of the three zero draft documents prepared by experts were reviewed and an international consensus regarding the structure and content of each of the documents was arrived at. The documents are expected to provide the list of terms in the respective systems, definitions (short or explanatory descriptions as required) including contextual meanings of the terms, classical usages and references, suggested English terms, synonyms and exclusions if any. The documents cover terms related to basic principles, fundamental theories, human structure and function, diagnosis, pathologies, patterns and body constitutions, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, preparation of food and medicines, therapeutics, preventive and promotive health interventions and miscellaneous terms of the respective medical systems. The standardized terminologies will facilitate better communication between practitioners of modern and traditional medicine, and support integration of traditional medicine into the national health system. These documents will be of immense utility to other health professionals, medical students and relevant researchers also.
    • A total of 20 International experts of Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha from 13 different countries (Covering all six regions of WHO) like Japan, Canada, Denmark, Austria, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, UAE, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Malaysia, South Africa, Nepal and Iran along with 21 National experts and four WHO officials participated in the meeting.


    1. Research Lab at Tiruchirappalli


    • ISRO has set-up a Space Technology Incubation Centre (S-TIC) at National Institute of Technology (NIT), Tiruchirappalli. The centre will work with ISRO on the technical problems at hand related to the future Space programmes and shall provide solutions.
    ·        This S-TIC will cater to the southern region of India, including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Telangana, the Union Territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry.
    • This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha


    1. Study by Chandrayaan


    • Infrared measurements are done during bright sunlit conditions while X-ray measurements are carried out during phases of solar activity.
    • Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS) aims to identify and map the location of minerals using absorption features in the reflected sunlight from the Moon’s surface. The extended operational band of IIRS also enables clear identification and mapping of water-ice on the sunlit lunar surface. The extended band of 3-5 microns in infrared enables improved capability to subtract the thermal background which otherwise causes uncertainties in estimating the water signature.


    1. First Manned Mission


    • The Human Space Mission: Gaganyaan is targeted for December 2021. The Gaganyaan Programme has been approved by the Government of India. The design and configuration of major subsystem are finalized. The procurement and system/ subsystem realisation for tests and flight has commenced.
    • The crew selection and training process for Gaganyaan mission is progressing well including the training in Russia under Gaganyaan Mission.
    • GSLV Mk III launcher which is ISRO’s heavy lift launcher is identified for Gaganyaan mission. It has requisite payload carrying capacity for Orbital module in desired elliptical orbit. Process for human rating of GSLV Mk-III is progressing well.
    • ISRO has wide experience in technological areas with respect to Launch vehicle, spacecraft management, ground infrastructure etc. ISRO has taken steps for human rating of existing systems to ensure crew safety. In certain areas where ISRO lacks experience such as Human centric systems, crew training, crew recovery etc., ISRO is planning to collaborate with national and international agencies. MoUs in this regard have already been signed with DRDO labs, Indian Air Force and Russian space agency.


    1. New Approach to Fertilizer Sector


    • The Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, ShriDV Sadananda Gowda addressed at Valedictory Session of the Fertilizer Association of India (FAI) Annual Seminar on ‘New Approach to Fertilizer Sector’, here today. Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog, Shri K.S.Raju, Chairman, FAI, Shri Satish Chander, Director General, FAI and representatives of the industry were also present on the occasion.
    • Speaking about the need to have self-sufficiency in domestic production of fertilizers, Shri Gowda said that India is a country of 1.3 billion people, which is set to rise to 1.5 billion by 2040. Providing food security tosuch a big population is prime responsibility of the Government, he added. The Minister said that fertilizers play an important role and act as an important input in agricultural production, so achieving self-sufficiency in domestic production is necessary. He added thatGovernment’s relationship with fertilizer industry is unique, as thesupport of the industry is required in enhancingfood security.
    • Emphasizing on the role of fertilizers in food security, Shri Gowda said that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has called for reduction of use of chemical fertilizers by at least 10%. He added that the excessive use of chemical fertilizers has started negatively impacting health of the soil. The Minister said that the industry leaders should take a lead in organizing awareness campaign among farmers to promote balanced use of fertilizers. He informed that the Department in joint collaboration with M/o Agriculture will organize ‘khadkasahiupyog’ awareness campaign twice ina year before kharif and rabi season to sensitise farmers to use fertilizers as per recommendations of soil health card.
    • The Minister emphasized upon the need for newer forms of fertilizers to be developed and introduced, which could be more effective than conventional fertilizers, and yet friendlier to ecosystem. He mentioned about the efforts of IFFCO in taking initiative to develop a newer form of fertilizers, which they call as ‘nano fertilizer’. He expressed happiness that these fertilizers will not only be more effective and environment friendlier, but also will also help in reducing subsidy burden of the Government.He said that thePrime Minister has also emphasized on the need for innovation & technology for accelerating progress.
    • Shri Sadananda Gowda said that it is the Government’s effort that there is an adequate provision for fertilizer subsidy and payments to the industry are made promptly. The Minister said that we have also to keep in mind the fiscal limitation of the government.





    1. International Nurses Day


    • International Nurses Day(IND) is an international day observed around the world on 12 May (the anniversary of Florence Nightingale‘s birth) of each year, to mark the contributions that nurses make to society.
    • The International Council of Nurses(ICN) has celebrated this day since 1965.
    • In 1953 Dorothy Sutherland, an official with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, proposed that President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaim a “Nurses’ Day”; he did not approve it.
    • In January 1974, 12 May was chosen to celebrate the day as it is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.[2][3]Each year, ICN prepares and distributes the International Nurses’ Day Kit.[4] The kit contains educational and public information materials, for use by nurses everywhere.
    • As of 1998, 8 May was designated as annual National Student Nurses’ Day.


    1. Australian bushfires cause unprecedented pollution in Sydney


    • Australian bushfires have caused unprecedented pollution in Sydney and along the country’s east coast . Smoke and dust is burning residents’ eyes and prompting a spike in respiratory complaints. Hundreds of bushfires have burnt out of control since September, up and down the eastern seaboard, blanketing cities from Sydney to Brisbane in smoke for weeks on end.
    • The New South Wales department of environment made clear  on Thursday, the extent of the crisis . It declared bushfires and dust had caused some of the highest air pollution ever seen  in Australia.
    • A spokesperson said, the region has experienced other periods of poor air quality that lasted several weeks, including the 1994 Sydney bushfires and the Black Christmas bushfires of Dec 2001-Jan 2002.He added, this event  however, is the longest and the most widespread in the records. New South Wales Rural Fire Service said more than a dozen fires were burning near Sydney on Thursday, including three that carried an emergency warning.
    • For three weeks the city has seen almost daily air quality warnings. Bushfires are common in Australia, but scientists say this year’s season has come earlier and with more intensity due to a prolonged drought fueled by climate change.
    • New South Wales health officials said more people with asthma were turning up at hospitals, and ambulance call-outs for breathing problems were up 24 percent in the week to 1st December.
    • Sydney’s air quality index registered fine particulate pollution small enough to penetrate deep inside the lungs at over 160 parts per million, far above levels considered to be safe.



    1. Sri Lankan Prez invites Indian companies for investment in the country


    • Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has invited Indian companies for investment in the country. In a message, he called upon India and China to place their trust and invest in Sri Lanka’s future while respecting its sovereignty.
    • Sri Lankan President since taking over last month, has been calling upon global powers including India, Japan and Australia to bring investments and not to allow them to be dependent on China only.
    • Gotabaya visited India on his first overseas trip last week where a fresh line of credit of 450 million US dollars was announced.
    • Sri Lanka was considered close to China during the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, elder brother of Gotabaya and there are concerted efforts to change the impression under the current regime.
    • Mr Rajapaksa said in an interview that they will try to renegotiate the Hambantota port deal with China, which was given to a Chinese company on 99 year lease.





    1. 13th South Asian Games : Indian women’s football team defeat Sri Lanka 6-0


    • In the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal, Indian women’s football team defeated Sri Lanka by 6-0 today. Meanwhile, Indian athletes continue their winning streak in the games. On the fifth day today India won a gold, four silver and two bronze in athletics. Karthik Unnikri clinched gold and Mohammed Salahu won silver in men’s triple jump.
    • In women’s section Bhairabi Roy won bronze. In 400 meters race Priya Habbathan won silver in women’s, while Jeevan Priyanth begged bronze in men’s category. In hurdles Surendhar Jayak and Aparna Roy won silver each in men and women sections. In Table Tennis, India grabbed gold in mixed doubles and silver each in men’s doubles and women’s doubles. In Wushu, India clinched gold.
    • India is on a top position with 84 medals comprising 38 gold, 31 silver and 15 bronze followed by host Nepal and Sri Lanka.



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