21 August Current Affairs – Daily News

21 August Current Affairs – Daily News

CIVIL SNIPPETS

 

Aadhaar-social media profile linking: Supreme Court concerned at dangers of dark web #GS3 #Security

 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stressed the need to find a balance between the right to online privacy and the right of the State to detect people who use the web to spread panic and commit crimes.

 

A Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Ghose expressed concern over the dangers of the dark web. “Though I do not know how to access it, I have heard about the dark goings-on in the dark web. It is worse than what happens [in the service web].

 

The Bench’s comments were in response to submissions made by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government along with advocate Balaji Srinivasan, about need to link the social media profiles of registered users with their Aadhaar numbers, and if required, have platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to share the 12-digit unique identity with law enforcement agencies to help detect crimes.

 

The linking of social media profiles of the users with the Aadhaar is needed to check fake news, defamatory articles, pornographic materials, anti-national and terror contents in the online media.” He referred to how online game Blue Whale had not long ago terrorised parents and claimed several young lives in India.

 

He said the government found it a challenge to trace the ‘originator’ of such online content. The services of social media platforms, which were used to circulate such content, was the need of the hour.

 

Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal, representing social media platforms, said they had moved the Supreme Court for the sole purpose of transferring the proceedings pending in High Courts to the apex court for adjudication.

 

Facebook contended that there were four petitions – two in the Madras High Court and one each in the Bombay and the Madhya Pradesh High Courts – on the issue.

 

Mr. Rohatgi said Mr. Venugopal was unnecessarily delving into the merits of the case and he should only argue on the question of transfer. The court, as the highest court in the country, and not the High Courts, should decide the issue that affected the privacy of an online user. A decision of the top court would cover the entire span of the country and would uniformly apply to all the States.

 

There was a risk that the different High Courts may arrive at conflicting decisions on the issue of Aadhaar linkage. It would be better to have the apex court take the final call. The Tamil Nadu police were saying that Aadhaar should be used for linking user profiles.

 

Both lawyers pointed out that a nine-judge Constitution Bench had declared privacy as a fundamental right associated with life and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.

 

 

The court finally issued notice to the Centre and the States on the plea made by social media platforms for transferring the proceedings in High Courts to the apex court. It further scheduled the next hearing to September 13.

 

The Bench said the “hearing before the Madras High Court may go on but no effective order be passed till further orders.”

 

 

 

Assam NRC is India’s internal matter: Jaishankar #GS2 #Governance

 

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) process, now under way in Assam, is internal to India, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Tuesday in Dhaka.

 

Addressing a press conference in Dhaka after meeting his counterpart A.K. Abdul Momen, Mr. Jaishankar said, “It’s an internal matter.” He was responding to a question on the future of more than four million people likely to be affected by the process.

 

Stating that Delhi will extend “all possible support” to the development agenda of Bangladesh, Mr. Jaishankar added that the India-Bangladesh relationship is a “model” of cooperation within the Neighbourhood First policy of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

 

Both sides had also discussed the repatriation of the Rohingya from refugee camps in Chittagong to Myanmar.

 

We agreed that the safe, speedy and sustainable return of displaced persons is in the national interest of all the three countries — Bangladesh, Myanmar and India. And we reaffirm our readiness to provide more assistance to the displaced in Bangladesh and to improve socio-economic conditions in Rakhine State.

 

 

 

Chandrayaan-2 successfully inserted into Lunar orbit #GS3 #SnT

 

The moon-bound Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft underwent a crucial orbit manoeuvre at 9:02 a.m. on August 20 morning, announced the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was carried out using the onboard propulsion system and the spacecraft is now at 114 km x 18072 km orbit.

 

The move, called the Lunar Orbit Insertion, makes the spacecraft capture the lunar orbit and start going around the Moon. To enter the final orbit over the lunar poles, Chandrayaan-2 will undergo more such orbit maneuvers.

 

 

ISRO added that the health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network antennas near Bengaluru and that all the systems are healthy.

 

 

 

Delhiites breathe easy as AQI remains ‘satisfactory’ #GS3 #Environment

 

The Delhiites breathed easy on Tuesday with the city recording its air quality in the “satisfactory” category. The air quality has been oscillating between “good” and “satisfactory” categories, mainly due to widespread rains last week. On Tuesday, the city recorded an air quality index of 97 as against 81.

 

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had on both Saturday and Sunday recorded Delhi’s AQI at 49, which falls in the “good” category. An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.

 

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR), a forecasting body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said Delhi’s overall air quality was recorded in the “satisfactory” category. The lead pollutant was PM10, mainly due to westerly winds and hence “dominant contribution coming from the western part which is relatively dry and dusty”.

 

SAFAR said the air quality may slowly slip to the “moderate” category over the next two days. Delhi and surrounding area are in low wind regime. Widespread rainfall is unlikely for the next three days that can lead to slow deterioration of air quality.

 

 

 

Spell out steps to make currency notes user-friendly for visually impaired: HC #GS3 #Economy

 

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought response of the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on steps they intend to take to make ATMs, online banking services and currency notes of ₹50 and lower denominations more user-friendly for the visually impaired.

 

A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar directed RBI to file an affidavit on how it was going to make currency notes of ₹50 and lower values easily identifiable by the visually impaired.

 

RBI said that notes of ₹100 and higher denomination were identifiable by touch, but not the ones of lower denominations. It said the smaller denominations can be identified by their smaller dimensions.

 

The court, however, asked as to how a visually impaired person was expected to measure dimensions of a note when making transactions.

 

 

 

 

Bringing baoli back to life- Madhur Tankha #GS1 #Culture

 

At a time when many areas in Delhi and multiple cities across the country are facing acute water shortage, Mughal Emperor Jahangir-built baoli at Arab Ki Sarai can become a harbinger of hope for water conservation. It is being revived with the twin purpose of heritage and water conservation.

 

The baoli has historical significance as Emperor Jahangir would have drank water from the well, near the baoli and perhaps interacted with traders, coming from far and wide, as they sold their wares near this 16th century walled enclosure that stands within the Humayun’s Tomb, a UNESCO world heritage site.

 

Taking a lesson from baolis that highlight traditional wisdom and are a sort of guidebook for water conservation, policy makers and environmentalists need to work on these lines in the current scenario when water is required for irrigation, fountain or watering the gardens. In olden days, it was also used for washing domestic animals.

 

So far, the biggest challenge has been to ensure structural stability and that the ongoing work is carried out in a systematic manner to prevent further collapse.

 

Comprising a circular well, this baoli can be accessed by a steep flight of steps. What made the work — part of ASI-AKTC project with support of the German Embassy — challenging for the team was that a roof that covered the well had collapsed. This made conservation work risky and slow.

 

Many structural elements in the baoli have collapsed or are in an advanced state of collapse. The main walls of baoli were beyond repair and required urgent measures to prevent further deterioration.

 

Throwing light on the project, which started in April, Aga Khan Trust for Culture head Ratish Nanda, who is credited with restoring baolis in Hyderabad where the collected water is used for irrigation, said: “Indeed, water conservation is critical. This baoli will also recharge groundwater aquifers. To enable this, grounds around baolis are being regraded. Currently, we have piped water for irrigation,”

 

To revive the original function of baoli, AKTC also plans to re-grade the earth within the Arab Ki Sarai bazaar to collect rainwater within the baoli, a catchment area of 1.5 lakh litres.

 

Noting that water conservation is the need of the hour, Mohammad Imran, who works with ASI and looks after conservation work at Humayun’s Tomb, evinced hope that water once treated properly would have multiple usage.

 

Giving his take on the conservation work carried out by experts, noted chronicler of history, R.V. Smith says: “Most baolis are neglected. They should be utilised as Delhi and surrounding areas are facing water

 

 

shortage. Heritage conservationists need to think on those lines. They need to visualise how they were used during the Mughal era and how they can be used in the present times.”

 

 

 

Central team to soon visit 11 flood-affected States #GS3 #DM

 

An Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) under the Home Ministry will soon visit 11 flood-affected States, including Kerala and Assam, to assess the damage. The Ministry has changed rules and from now on, the IMCT will visit the affected areas even before receiving a memorandum from the State concerned.

 

The other States that will be visited by the Central team are Meghalaya, Tripura, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka. A senior Home Ministry official said the Central team would soon visit other flood-affected States, including Kerala.

 

In the combined rescue operations in the States affected by floods, landslides etc. during the current monsoon season, the NDRF, Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard have rescued and shifted to safer places more than 1,53,000 people.

 

The IMCT will henceforth be constituted immediately in the aftermath of any natural calamity of severe nature, which will visit the affected areas in the State so as to have first-hand assessment of damages caused and relief work carried out by the State administration.

 

The IMCT will again visit the State after submission of the memorandum for detailed assessment of the damage and relief operations conducted for making final recommendations for allocation of additional funds,” the Home Ministry said in a statement.

 

At present, the IMCT visits the affected State only once, after the receipt of the memorandum from the State. The Centre has also approved release of over ₹4,432 crore to Odisha, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh for the damage caused by natural calamities in these States during the last financial year.

 

The funds will be disbursed from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). This additional assistance is over and above the funds released by the Centre in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) already placed at the disposal of States.

 

During 2018-19, the Central government had released ₹9,658 crore to all States, and during 2019-20, till date, it has released ₹6,104 crore to 24 States from the SDRF.

 

The meeting also reviewed the ongoing flood situation in different parts of the country and the logistic support provided by Central agencies, including the deployment of the NDRF and Defence forces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odisha to implement Centre’s ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme #GS2 #Governance

 

The Odisha government has announced that it will implement the Centre’s ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ initiative in the State starting from September 1.

 

According to State Minister for Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Ranendra Pratap Swain, the initiative will be implemented on a pilot basis for ration card holders under the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, and subsequently across the State.

 

The Central government’s ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ initiative was launched recently. Once implemented fully, it will enable the beneficiaries to procure ration from any fair price shop across the country.

 

The Minister said the beneficiaries under both the National Food Security Act and the State Food Security Scheme will be able to get their ration items from any public distribution shop. An official of the Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Department said the ration cards will be linked to the Aadhaar card of the beneficiaries.

 

This will prevent those having multiple ration cards from procuring ration from two shops at different places. However, the beneficiaries, who cannot enrol themselves in Aadhaar due to some reasons, will continue to get the benefits by producing certificates issued by the authorities concerned.

 

The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department has directed the Khurda district administration to implement the scheme in 127 fair price shops in 67 wards of the BMC from September 1.

 

 

The beneficiaries will have to give their finger prints on a machine to avail rations, the officials added. The State government has set the deadline for linking Aadhaar number with the ration cards till August 31.

 

At present, the beneficiaries covered under NFSA and State Food Security Scheme get five kg subsidised foodgrains per head every month. The State government has also rolled out a pilot project in Malkangiri district to supply fortified rice grains containing iron, folic acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12 to reduce malnutrition among the PDS beneficiaries.

 

 

 

Resolve stressed assets on time in your interest, RBI tells banks #GS3 #Economy

 

Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor N.S. Vishwanathan has urged banks for timely resolution of stressed assets in their ‘own interest’.

 

Mr. Vishwanathan, who spoke at a banking seminar organised by industry body FICCI and the Indian Banks’ Association, said that banks should resolve assets under the new framework that was announced by RBI in June to extract the best value, and emphasised the need for dealing only in ‘genuine’ cases.

 

Timely resolution is very important. I’d request you to ensure that the resolutions are done in time, not just for the regulatory requirement, but also because it will result in better valuation going forward.

 

Mr. Vishwanathan also said the RBI would soon come up with the final guidelines for top management compensation. Last year, we had issued draft guidelines on the revised compensation policy, aligning it with global guidelines. We have got excellent comments from the market, bankers and HR practitioners, and we will soon come out with final guidelines on the revised compensation policy.

 

 

 

Growth in loans by private banks, NBFCs slows: Credit Suisse report #GS3 #Economy

 

Growth in loans by private banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) has slowed down amid a slump in consumption demand, as economic growth continues to be sluggish.

 

According to a report by Credit Suisse, while slowdown in credit growth for non-banking finance companies was expected, the same is now witnessed by private sector lenders mainly due to moderation in vehicle loans.

 

NBFCs’ loan growth expectedly continued to decelerate and dipped to 11% y-o-y (2% q-o-q). Surprisingly, private banks’ loan growth also came off to 15% y-o-y (1% q-o-q) even as deposit growth

 

 

picked up. Moderation in vehicle loans in the face of a slowdown in the auto sector and increased caution appear to be the prime reasons.

 

NBFCs are facing a cash crunch after banks became cautious in lending to the sector post the debt default by IL&FS in October last year.

 

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government have taken several steps in recent times to increase the credit flow to the sector. “NBFCs’ growth continued to trend down amid credit differentiation by bond markets, with healthier ones, or those with strong parent backing, being able to tap comfortably into bond markets.

 

Apart from slowdown in auto loan growth which is mainly due to falling vehicle sales, unsecured loans’ growth, which was strong in recent years, has seen some moderation. RBI recently reduced the risk weight on unsecured personal loans and individual vehicle loans from 125% to 100% to encourage banks to lend more in these sectors.

 

 

 

Milestone for ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2, Moon in sight #GS3 #SnT

 

 

India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission crossed a major milestone on its journey towards the Moon, having entered a lunar orbit, almost exactly 30 days after being launched on July 22.

 

The mission has several more milestones to cross before the Lander and Rover components of the spacecraft, called Vikram and Pragyaan respectively, make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface in the early hours of September 7. But Tuesday’s milestone was big enough for India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan to call a press conference and inform the nation about the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what exactly did Chandrayaan-2 achieve on Tuesday?

 

After being launched, Chandrayaan-2 had been put in an elliptical orbit around the Earth. Until August 14, it had been going around the Earth, incrementally raising its orbit by firing boosters on five occasions. Eventually, it reached an orbit that was 276 km from the Earth’s surface at its closest and 142,975 km at the farthest.

 

It spent nearly a week in that orbit, before firing a booster once again to break free from the Earth orbit and begin its journey towards the Moon. This transit from orbit to orbit happened on August 14. After five days of this journey, Chandrayaan-2 came sufficiently close to the Moon to experience its gravity. And on Tuesday, it entered into an orbit around the Moon.

 

What exactly is meant by ‘insertion into lunar orbit’?

 

 

Just like it was going around the Earth at the start of its journey, Chandrayaan-2 is now orbiting the Moon. On Tuesday, it was placed into an elliptical orbit that was 114 km from the Moon’s surface at its nearest, and 18,072 km at the farthest.

 

The spacecraft will carry out a few more manoeuvres to eventually place itself in a circular orbit of 100 km × 100 km around the Moon (see illustration below). The Lander and Rover modules will detach themselves from here and descend into lower orbits before finally making a landing on September 7. The main spacecraft, however, will continue to orbit the Moon in the 100 km circular orbit for at least one year, making observations through the several instruments it has on board.

 

But why are these manoeuvres needed in the first place?

 

Indeed. it is possible to fly straight to the Moon, without getting into the Earth orbits. The lunar orbit, however, cannot be avoided. The spacecraft cannot land directly on the Moon.

 

In fact, none of the Apollo missions that landed astronauts on the Moon took the route that Chandrayaan-2, or all other recent missions to Moon, have taken. The Apollo missions flew directly to the Moon. But this is not considered wise or economical.

 

That is because the rockets need to be extraordinarily powerful to carry the spacecraft all the way to Moon. An enormous amount of fuel too is required. Taking a longer route, however, makes it much easier for the spacecraft to travel.

 

The rocket has to take the spacecraft only about 200 km from the Earth’s surface and deposit it in Low-Earth Orbit. Thereafter, the spacecraft moves around the Earth under the influence of gravity. This stable position is also a good time for ground controllers to check on the health of the equipment on board.

 

While circling the Earth, a substantially lower amount of energy is required to propel the spacecraft into higher orbits due to reduction in atmospheric drag. This is easily possible with a small amount of fuel onboard. With each higher orbit, however, the gain in energy is enormous, enabling the spacecraft to achieve great velocities, and the power to move much deeper into space.

 

To put things in perspective, the Apollo missions were carried on giant Saturn V rockets, which even today remain the most powerful rockets ever built. They were 111 metres tall, higher than a modern 30-storey building, and weighed 2,800 tonnes, a significant part being contributed by the fuel it carried.

 

According to information on NASA website, the fuel it burnt to land astronauts on the Moon — several million litres of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen in different stages — could take a normal car 800 times around the Earth. It is said to have consumed 20 tonnes of fuel every second.

 

In comparison, ISRO’s GSLV Mk-III rocket used to launch Chandrayaan-2 is extremely modest. At 43.43 metres, it has less than half the height of Saturn V, and weighs 640 tonnes, less than one-fourth of Saturn V. It can carry less than 350 tonnes of fuel, roughly about one-fifth of what Saturn V needed for its Apollo missions.

 

 

Chandrayaan-2 is said to have slowed down before entering lunar orbit. Why did it need to slow down?

 

ISRO Chairman Sivan said Chandrayaan-2, after coming under the influence of lunar gravity on Monday, had begun to accelerate. At one point, it had reached a velocity of 2.4 km per second (8,640 km per hour).

 

This is just about equal to the escape velocity of the Moon. If Chandrayaan-2 had been allowed to speed up unrestrained, it would have escaped the Moon’s gravity and moved away. To keep it in the lunar orbit, therefore, its velocity was brought down to 2.1 km per second (7,560 km per hour).

 

Spacecraft increase or decrease their velocities by firing on-board thrusters. To speed up, the thrusters are fired in a direction opposite to the motion of the spacecraft. It has an effect similar to the recoil that a gun experiences after firing. Velocity can be reduced if the thrusters are fired in the direction of motion.

 

 

 

What makes XDR TB deadly, how many have contracted it #GS3 #SnT

 

In a groundbreaking development recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a three-drug regimen against the most lethal form of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, known as the XDR (extensively drug-resistant) strain.

 

 

Essentially, this strain of TB is resistant to some of the most potent anti-TB drugs, making it difficult for patients suffering from this strain to be cured. A trial in the US, which enrolled 109 patients with the XDR strain, was able to cure 90 per cent of them.

 

Cases of XDR TB are much fewer than those of the other drug-resistant strain, MDR/RR TB, and have been reported from 117 countries until 2017, a World Health Organization (WHO) report said. Out of 10,800 cases worldwide, India accounted for 2,650 cases, or almost one-fourth.

 

As per WHO, two-thirds of cases of the XDR-strain are in China, India and Russia. These countries also share 47 per cent of the burden for MDR/RR TB. The average success rates for drugs to treat the XDR strain has been 34 percent globally.

 

WHO explains that XDR can be contracted in two ways. It may develop in a patient who is already receiving treatment for TB and misuses the anti-TB drugs, or it can be contracted from a person who already has the disease.

 

The risk of transmission for XDR remains the same as the risk of transmission of other strains of TB. Often, XDR TB may go undiagnosed since lower-middle-income countries lack the infrastructure to detect it.

 

Worldwide, TB has surpassed HIV-AIDS as the leading cause of death due to infectious diseases. In 2017, over 13 lakh people died of the disease.

 

 

 

Earnings being analysed to decide fund requirement #GS3 #Economy

 

Public sector banks (PSBs) would soon get capital infusion as the Centre has started an assessment of their fund requirements after analysing their first quarter results. Most PSBs have shown slight improvement in profitability and on the stressed assets front in the April-June quarter.

 

Results of public sector banks have come in for the first quarter. We are making an assessment and capital will be provided to the banks to kickstart lending growth,” a senior Finance Ministry official said. The government expects this round of capital infusion to aid lending growth while a few banks will need funds to meet minimum regulatory requirements, the official added.

 

Capital infusion in PSBs will be done through issuance of recapitalisation bonds, which do not show up on fiscal deficit as the government accounts for only interest payments on these bonds. The government plans to issue Rs 70,000-crore worth of recapitalisation bonds in the current fiscal, to inject an equivalent amount of equity in PSBs.

 

Apart from capital infusion to boost lending, the government is working with the ‘banking system’ to ensure that interest rate transmission becomes effective. “Public sector banks have responded to the

 

 

RBI rate cuts and lowered their lending rates sharply. We expect private banks to follow suit as deposit rates have fallen as well,” the official said.

 

For the first quarter ended June 30, 2019, State Bank of India posted a profit of Rs 2,312.20 crore as against a loss of Rs 4,875.85 crore in the same quarter last year. The bank had reported a profit of Rs 838.40 crore in the previous quarter ended March 31, 2019.

 

SBI’s net non-performing assets (NPA) fell to 3.07 per cent at June-end 2019, from 5.29 per cent at June-end 2018.

 

India’s second largest PSU lender Bank of Baroda, which recently acquired Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank, posted a profit of Rs 709.87 crore, as against a loss of Rs 49 crore in the same period last year. Its net NPA ratio fell to 3.95 per cent at June-end 2019, from 5.71 per cent at June-end 2018.

 

Punjab National Bank, the third largest state-owned bank, posted a profit of Rs 1018.63 crore in Q1, against a loss of Rs 940.01 crore in the same quarter last year. Its net NPA ratio fell to 7.17 per cent at June-end 2019 from 10.58 per cent at June-end 2018.

 

Sources said the Centre would provide growth capital to better performing banks, as that would help them support lending and also buy out rated pooled assets of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).

 

With many NBFCs facing credit squeeze on the back of a series of defaults, the government believes it is the state-owned banks which will have to support lending. The recent consumption slowdown being seen in consumer facing sectors, such as automobiles, can be partially attributed to lack of funding being provided by NBFCs.

 

In October 2017, the government announced a Rs 2.11 lakh crore worth of capital infusion plan into PSBs over two years including fund infusion of Rs 1.35 lakh crore.

 

 

 

Compliance culture in banks not satisfactory, says RBI’s Jain #GS3 #Economy

 

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come down heavily on commercial banks after slapping a series of penalties for not complying with several regulatory guidelines. Speaking at the FICCI-IBA banking seminar, RBI Deputy Governor in-charge of banking supervision M.K. Jain said that the compliance culture in the banking system was far from satisfactory.

 

He said following the global financial crisis, the importance of compliance had increased significantly, particularly in the areas of know-your-customer, anti-money laundering and appropriateness of banking products, among others.

 

Between January and July this year, the banking regulator had imposed penalties worth about ₹122.9 crore on 70 occasions on banks for non-compliance. A bank or a financial institution can suffer if it does

 

 

not adhere to laws, rules, regulations and related self-regulatory standards or even codes of conducts applicable to its banking activities.

 

He also said some of the banking frauds — for which banks had suffered big losses — could have been avoided if they had had ‘good compliance culture’.