International Current News
- European Union: It is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.The European Union is planning to expand its blacklist of tax havens and is planning to add 10 more countries. According to an official, ‘It is expected that the updated blacklist will contain 15 countries, and the updated gray list contains 23 countries. The list was first put together in 2017 to name and shame non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes and will be amended at a meeting of EU economy and finance ministers meet in Brussels’. Seven countries are to be moved back from a gray list because commitments previously made have not been respected. These are Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu and Dominica. They are joined by five more countries entering the naughty list for the first time, whose tax regimes, according to the Commission’s assessment, have gotten worse over the past months, these are Barbados, the United Arab Emirates — that’s still being debated — and the Marshall Islands.
- China: It is a populous nation in East Asia whose vast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and large coastline. China has blocked India’s bid to declare Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist for the fourth time. Action comes despite the India’s huge diplomatic pressure to ban the JeM chief, who is the mastermind behind the ghastly suicide bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir, which left 44 CRPF jawans dead. After the February-14 Pulwama terrorist attack, the US, the UK and France had moved the United Nations (UN) to declare Masood a global terrorist on February 27. However, China has again chosen to side with its ‘all-weather friend’ Pakistan, citing it wanted a solution (of the conflict in J&K) ‘acceptable to all’.
National Current News
- New oil and Gas Exploration Policy: Government of India has announced a new policy for oil and Gas exploration. As per the policy, the government will not charge any share of profit on hydrocarbons produced from less explored areas as it looks to attract the elusive private and foreign investment to raise domestic output. According to experts, this move is strategic move, since it breaks away from the two-and-a-half decade-old practice of having a uniform contractual regime for all sedimentary basins in the country, the new policy provides for different rules for areas that already have producing fields and ones where commercial production of oil and gas is yet to be established. Irrespective of the basins, producers will get complete marketing and pricing freedom for oil and gas in future bid rounds.
- Guidelines for responsible business conduct: It is a new guidelines released by Ministry of Corporate Affairs under the goverment of India. The Ministry has revised the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business, 2011 (NVGs) and formulated the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC). These guidelines urge businesses to actualise the principles in letter and spirit. These principles are, 1) Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity in a manner that is Ethical, Transparent and Accountable. 2) Businesses should provide goods and services in a manner that is sustainable and safe. 3) Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains. 4) Businesses should respect the interests of and be responsive to all their stakeholders. 5) Businesses should respect and promote human rights. 6) Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment. 7) Businesses, when engaging in influencing public and regulatory policy, should do so in a manner that is responsible and transparent. 8) Businesses should promote inclusive growth and equitable development. 9) Businesses should engage with and provide value to their consumers in a responsible manner.
- Cloud Seeding: Cloud seeding uses planes to spray clouds with chemicals to condense smaller particles into larger rain droplets. Karnataka approves cloud seeding, hoping to influence the upcoming monsoon and capture as much water as possible from the rain clouds, Karnataka government has pushed a tender call for cloud seeding operations. According to news reports, cloud seeding will enhance rainfall during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020. The project is expected to cost ₹50 crore each year. The tenders should have been out by February, giving enough time for preparation for the monsoon. However, the department managed to get the required approvals and sanction for work before the enforcement of model code of conduct on Sunday. A contractor is expected to be chosen by April-end and, officials said, the cloud-seeding planes could take to the skies by June 20.
- Vastradan Campaign : It is a campaign launched by erstwhile royal family of Udaipur to donate clothers. Vastradan Campaign initiated has created a Guinness World Record. According to an official release, the campaign has created a Guiness World Record for the largest collection of clothes for donation. The campaign had collected more than 3 lakh items of clothing. Through the Vastradan Campaign, over 3,29,250 pieces of clothing from over 76,000 donors were collected and distributed to the needy. The campaign reached out to over 120 schools, 15 colleges and around 30 NGOs. The certificate for the Guinness World Record was handed over to Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, a descendant of Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap. The campaign was started as an innovative exercise in giving by reaching out to the citizens rather organizations. The campaign highlighted the empathy of the citizen’s especially young boys and girls.
- Enemy properties: It can be expanded to ‘guidelines for Enemy Property Order, 2018’. Centre has allowed the state government to put Enemy properties to public use. State governments can now put to public use, some enemy properties that were left behind by people who left India for Pakistan and China after 1965 and 1971 wars. A notification was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 8 amending the guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018. The move came amid the Centre’s efforts to sell around 9,400 enemy properties, valued at around Rs 1lakh crore. In November last year, the government gave an in-principle clearance for the sale of 6.50 crore shares valued at around Rs 3,000 crore belonging to those people who left India for Pakistan and China. The order has been amended to facilitate usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use. According to a government report, India holds assets worth at least Rs 1.07 lakh crore, including 11,882 acres of land, belonging to people who migrated to Pakistan after 1965 and 1971 wars. Besides this, there are 149 immovable enemy properties of Chinese nationals, spread over Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
- The Star Labelling Programs: It is a program formulated by Bureau of Energy Efficiency. The program will now include these two appliances for grant of Star Rating in terms of their energy performance. Initially, the program for above two appliances will be implemented on a voluntary basis and will be valid up to 31st December 2020. In a bid to optimize energy performance of Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines, Ministry of Power, Government of India expanded its ambitious Standards & Labelling (Star Rating) program for Energy Efficient for Appliances to cover the Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines (with revised parameters) in the country. This initiative will promote advancement of technology and energy efficiency in Microwaves Ovens which is becoming a popular household gadget. As regard to the launch of revised program for Washing Machines It is estimated savings of over 3.0 Billion Units of electricity at consume-end through adoption of Star Rated Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines by 2030. This would be equivalent to Green House Gases (GHG) reduction of 2.4 Million-ton of CO2 by the year 2030 through these initiatives. The size of Indian Microwave Oven market stood at 1.21 million units in year FY 2017-18 and is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 2%. Whereas, the size of Indian Washing Machine market stood at 6.1 million units in year FY 2017-18 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 8% fuelled by a growth in urbanization. Therefore, it is important to optimize energy performance of Microwave Ovens and Washing Machines. This will create awareness amongst the domestic consumers to encourage transition towards energy efficient microwave ovens and Washing machines.
- Pulse polio program 2019: It is a government programme to eradicate polio eradication. The programme was launched by President of India Ram Nath Kovind, who administered polio drops to children less than five years old, at the Rahstrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. More than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be given polio drops as part of the drive. Universal Immunization Programme is focusing to protect children from more diseases than ever before and has introduced several new vaccines like Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Rotavirus vaccine, and Measles-Rubella vaccine in the recent past. To provide additional protection to our children, Government has also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine into its routine immunization program. Along with Universal Immunization Programme of the country, government has also launched Mission Indradhanush to accelerate our goal to achieve more than 90% full immunization coverage. More than 3.39 crore children and 87 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated through Mission Indradhanush drives.
- J& K Return Policy for Militants: It is a draft policy encourages militants in J&K to give up arms. The policy is under consideration of the J&K government headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik. Jobs, reformative measures, and a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 are the key points of draft to encourage militants hailing from the state to give up arms. The policy draft is presently at the pre-SAC stage. It is subject to clearance by the State Home Department and the Chief Secretary. The State Administrative Council (SAC) is the body governing J&K, which is under President’s rule, and is led by the Governor and includes his four advisors and Chief Secretary B V R Subramanyam. According to the draft, the new initiative addresses the need for rehabilitation at a policy level through a two-pronged approach: reformative measures and opportunities of livelihood. There is also provision for a monthly stipend of Rs 6,000 for a militant who surrenders with a view to encourage him to join the mainstream. The initiative, however, will not cover militants found to have been involved in heinous crimes.
- IT Corridor: It is a location which has lot of IT related businesses and facilitates growth. Aiming to facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese Companies, India has launched its third IT corridor in China. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) entered into a partnership with China’s Xuzhou city from Jiangsu Province in China to help develop the IT corridor. The IT industry body has already launched such corridors at Dalian and Guiyang cities to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese IT industry market. Through its previous similar initiatives in China, NASSCOM has brought to the fore opportunities with over 300 companies where more than 10 Indian SME companies have signed deals worth 31 Million RMB (USD 4.5 million). The previous IT corridors in Dalian and Guiyang have already sprung up opportunities to the tune of 24 Million RMB (USD 4.6 million) and 62 Million RMB (USD 8.9 million) respectively, it said.
- National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA): It is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India. NPPA has put out list of 390 anti-cancer non-scheduled medicines with MRP reduction up to 87 %. NPPA had put 42 anti-cancer drugs under 30% Trade Margin cap. Manufacturers and Hospitals were directed to convey revised MRP, to be effective from 8th March, 2019, based on the Trade Margin (TM) formula. 390 brands i.e. 91% of the 426 brands reported by manufacturers, showed downward price movement. The average out of pocket expenditure for cancer patients is 2.5 times that for other diseases. This move is expected to benefit 22 lakh cancer patients in the country and would result in annual savings of approx. Rs. 800 crores to the consumers. The Trade Margin rationalisation for 42 anti-cancer drugs was rolled out as Proof of Concept, stressing on the new paradigm of self-regulation by the Industry. The manufacturers of these 42 drugs have been directed not to reduce production volumes of brands under regulation.
- Marayur Jaggery : It is a traditional and handmade product from Idukki district, Kerala. The jaggery has got the geographical indication (GI) tag. The tag allow the food item safe for consumption while rejuvenating the traditional way of production and ensuring a safe market in future. It has been a long-term demand of farmers in Marayur and Kanthallur grama panchayats, where jaggery is produced without adding any chemicals. Though the Marayur jaggery has always been known for its high quality, fake jaggery with a salty taste was being marketed as Marayur jaggery. It was the persistent efforts made by the Intellectual Property Rights cell, Kerala Agriculture University, from August 2016 that resulted in the jaggery receiving the GI tag. An official said, said that GI tag would help get more acceptance in the internatioanl market for the product. But the farmer should maintain the quality. The GI tag would aid in initiating legal action against fake jaggery being sold as Marayur jaggery. The GI tag was given after considering its quality and speciality.
- Sirsi Supari : It is kind of aracanut which is grown Yellapura, Siddapura and Sirsi taluks in Karnatakan. This kind of arecanut has got the Geographical Indication (GI) Tag. Totgars’ Cooperative Sale Society Ltd., Sirsi, is the registered proprietor of the GI. The Registrar of Geographical Indications, under the Union government, Chennai issued the certificate to the society on March 4, 2019. Its GI number is 464. According to a release, the particular arecanut which is medium in size, somewhat flat and rounded in shape, somewhat ash coloured, and has a hard seed. The arecanut grown in these taluks have unique features like a round and flattened coin shape, particular texture, size, cross-sectional views, taste, etc. These features are not seen in arecanut grown in any other regions. Its average dry weight is 7.5 g and average thickness is 16 mm. This particular variety has a unique taste due to differences in chemical composition. The total average flavonoids content in it is around 90 whereas in others it is around 80. The total carbohydrates in ‘Sirsi Supari’ are 23% to 26%, total arecoline is 0.11% to 0.13%, total tannin content is 14.5% to 17.5%.
- Erode Turmeric: Erode turmeric is a rhizome, both finger and bulb obtained from the Erode local cultivar. Erode turmeric has finally got a Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Geographical Indication Registry. The Erode Manjal Vanigargal Matrum Kidangu Urimaiyalargal Sangham applied for the GI tag on January 4, 2011, at the office of the Deputy Registrar of GI Registry in Chennai. A Geographical Indication is a name or sign used on certain products that correspond to a specific geographical location or origin. The application and supporting documents said Erode turmeric was a traditional cultivar of India, grown in Erode, pointed out Chinnaraj G. Naidu, Deputy Registrar of Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai. The cultivar is called Erode local, i.e., Chinnanadan.. In its claim for uniqueness, the application said the mean length of the fingers of Erode turmeric was about 4.15cm and the mean circumference was about 3.03cm. The mean bulb length of the mother rhizome is about 4.54cm and the mean circumference is 6.54cm. Quality parameters of the turmeric included 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content, a golden yellow colour and resistence to pests after boiling.
- Pinaka Guided Weapons System : It is a guided weapons system is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance kit comprising of an advanced navigation and control system. The weapon systems impacted the intended targets with high precision and achieved desired accuracies. Telemetry Systems tracked and monitored the vehicle all through the flight path and all the mission objectives have been met. Defence Research and Development organisation(DRDO) has successfully test fired the PINAKA guided WEAPON rocket system from Pokhran range in Rajasthan. An official release said, the weapon It said, the indigenously developed Guided PINAKA by DRDO will significantly boost the capability of the artillery to make precision hits.
- Combat Casualty Drugs : It is a new range of combat casualty drugs developed to save security personnel during grave injuries. According to a release, 90 per cent of gravely wounded security personnel succumbing to injuries within a few hours. In order to reduce the casualities, DRDO’s medical laboratory has come up with a range of ‘combat casualty drugs’ that can extend the golden hour till the trooper is shifted to hospital. The spectrum includes bleeding wound sealants, super absorptive dressings and glycerated salines, all of which can save lives in the event of warfare in jungle and high altitude areas as well as in terror attacks. According to developers of the drugs at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, chances of survival and minimum disability are highest when effective first aid care is given within the golden hour. Scientists at INMAS, entrusted with research and development in a number of areas concerning the defence sector, said the main battlefield emergencies are excess bleeding, sepsis, shock, hypovolemia (decreased blood volume) and pain.
- Indian Arms Import: India is the second largest importer of weapons in the world, as per the annual report ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers-2018’ by the think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). According to the release, Saudi Arabia displaces India as world’s largest importer of weapons. After maintaining its position of world’s largest arms importer for about 8 years, India dropped down to be the second largest importer of weapons during 2014-18. Saudi Arabia is now the world’s largest weapons importer. India accounted for 9.5 percent of the global total imports during 2014-18, while Saudi Arabia accounted for 12 percent of the total imports during the period.