Rapid Action Force (RAF)
Union Minister for Home Affairs, Amit Shah presided over as Chief Guest at the 27th Anniversary celebrations of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) of the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF).
It is a specialised wing of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
It was raised in October 1992.
Role: To deal with riots, riot like situations, crowd control, rescue and relief operations, and related unrest.
Headquarters: New Delhi.
RAF is headed by an officer of the rank of Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
The RAF has a distinctive uniform with a blue-coloured camouflage pattern which symbolises peace.
Its motto is “Serving Humanity with Sensitive Policing”.
World Heart Day
September 29 was observed as World Heart Day, an initiative by the World Heart Federation to spread awareness about cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart disease and stroke.
WHO estimates on cardiovascular diseases (CVD):
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 17.9 million people die of CVDs every year, accounting for over 31 per cent of global deaths.
One-third of these deaths are premature (below 70 years). About 80 per cent of all CVDs manifest themselves as heart attacks or strokes and 75 per cent cases come from low and middle-income countries.
CVD burden in India:
In September 2018, The Lancet published a report about cardiovascular diseases in India and their risk factors as part of its Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2016. According to it,
In 2016, CVDs contributed to 28.1 percent of the total deaths, as compared to 15.2 percent in 1990.
In Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the prevalence of CVDs is at least 5000 per 100,000 people. Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh are the only two states where the prevalence of CVDs is less than 3,000 per 100,000 people.
In India, the prevalence of CVDs is estimated to be around 54.5 million.
India’s National Health Policy 2017 aims to reduce premature mortality from CVDs, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases by 25 per cent by 2025.
Apprenticeship Rules 1992
The government has notified changes in Apprenticeship Rules (1992) with an aim to increase skilled manpower in the country, and raise monetary compensation of apprentices.
Salient features of the notified Apprenticeship (Amendment) Rules, 2019:
The hiring limit of apprentices has been raised to 15 per cent of total strength of an establishment.
The minimum stipends have been doubled to between Rs 5,000 and Rs 9,000 per month.
The stipend for graduate apprentices or degree apprentices has been increased to Rs 9,000 per month.
For school pass outs, between Class 5th and 9th, the stipend has been increased to Rs 5,000 per month.
The Centre has also lowered the size limit of an establishment with a mandatory obligation to engage apprentices on an optional basis from 40 to 30, and reduced the size-limit of an establishment wanting to engage apprentices from 6 to 4.
With this, the number of apprenticeships are expected to rise to 2.6 lakh as compared to 60,000 this year till now.
A minor planet (Asteroid 300128) between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter has been named after the legendary vocalist Pandit Jasraj.
Minor planets are also known as “small Solar System body.”
These are celestial objects orbiting the Sun that are not large enough for their gravity to pull them into a spherical shape. This distinguishes a minor planet from planets or ‘dwarf planets’, which are almost spherical.
Small Solar System bodies include asteroids, comets, and several other celestial objects that go around the Sun.
Naming them: Names of celestial bodies are finally approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a global organisation of professional astronomers. In the case of small Solar System bodies, the discoverer has the privilege to suggest the name for 10 years since the discovery.
Johann Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Rabindranath Tagore also have minor planets named after them.
Revision of World Urbanization Prospects
The 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects produced by the Population Division of the United Nations (UN) Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
Between 1970 to 2017, the urban population in Developing Asia group of countries grew five-fold from 375 million to 1.84 billion.
Two-thirds of the nearly 1.5.billion additional city dwellers in Developing Asia belong to China and India.
Developing Asia urbanised faster than the rest of the world not only in terms of absolute growth, but also in terms of growth rate. The urban population in this region increased at an average 3.4% per annum from 1970 to 2017. This was much faster than the 2.6% in the rest of the developing world and 1.0% in the developed world.
Within the Developing Asia region, East Asia, at 3.7%, had the highest annual growth rate. It was followed by Southeast Asia at 3.6%, and South Asia at 3.3%. The Pacific saw an annual growth rate of 2.9% in the urban population, and Central Asia witnessed a 1.6% annual growth.
Old river in Prayagraj
The Union Water Ministry has excavated an old, dried-up river in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) that linked the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. The aim is to develop it as a potential groundwater recharge source.
This “ancient buried river” is around 4 km wide, 45 km long and consisted of a 15-metre-thick layer buried under soil.
The newly discovered river was a “buried paleochannel that joins the Yamuna river at Durgapur village, about 26 km south of the current Ganga-Yamuna confluence at Prayagraj. These paleochannels reveal the course of rivers that have ceased to exist.
Evidence from palaeochannels suggested that the mythological Saraswati river did indeed exist.
The discovery was made last December by a team of scientists from the CSIR-NGRI (National Geophysical Research Institute) and the Central Groundwater Board.
School Education Quality Index (SEQI)
Kerala bagged the top spot on the School Education Quality Index (SEQI) released by NITI Aayog.
Bodies involved: SEQI has been developed by NITI Aayog through a collaborative process, including key stakeholders such as Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) and World Bank.
Objective: The index aims to evaluate the performance of States and UTs in the school education sector.
Methodology: The index consists of 30 critical indicators that assess the delivery of quality education. These indicators are categorized as below:
Category 1: Outcomes (Domain 1: Learning outcomes; Domain 2: Access outcomes; Domain 3: Infrastructure and facilities for outcomes and Domain 4: Equity outcomes).
Category 2: Governance processes aiding outcomes
The data for the index was collected for three categories: large states, small states and Union Territories (UTs).
Among the large States, Kerala bagged the top spot with 76.6 per cent and while Uttar Pradesh with 36.4 per cent scored the lowest for 2016-17. Rajasthan bagged the second position with 72 per cent, followed by Karnataka with 70 per cent.
Among the small States, Manipur (68.8 per cent) emerged as the top performer while Arunachal Pradesh (24.6 per cent) came last in the category.
Among Union Territories, Chandigarh (82.9 per cent) stood at the top position while Lakshadweep ranked lowest (31.9 per cent).
Haryana, Meghalaya, Daman & Diu showed most improvement.
Next-Generation Starship Spacecraft
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled a prototype design of its next-generation Starship spacecraft that will take people or cargo to the moon, Mars or other destinations in space or around Earth.
The SpaceX Starship is a fully reusable second stage and space vehicle being privately developed by SpaceX.
It is being designed to be a long-duration cargo- and passenger-carrying spacecraft. It will be capable of carrying up to 100 people on long-duration interplanetary flights and deliver as much as around 100 tons of payload for building bases on Moon and Mars cities.
Musk’s ultimate goal is to colonise Mars over the next 100 years and he has been quite vocal of his idea in the past. According to the SpaceX CEO, the Earth will face a near-extinction event at some point in time, which is why a “backup” plan for all humankind is needed.
SpaceX is planning to launch commercial payloads using Starship no earlier than 2021.
European Court of Justice (ECJ)
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that an online privacy rule known as the ‘right to be forgotten’ under European law would not apply beyond the borders of EU member states.
‘Right to be forgotten’ under European law:
The ‘right to be forgotten’ on the Internet empowers individuals to ask organisations to delete their personal data.
It is provided by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law passed by the 28-member European Union (EU) bloc in 2018.
After a search engine company like Google gets requests under the privacy law to get information deleted, it first reviews and then removes links on country-specific sites within the European Union, such Google’s ‘google.de’ for Germany.
Electoral Bond Scheme
Sale of Electoral Bonds at Authorised Branches of State Bank of India (SBI).
About Electoral bonds:
Bonds that allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary.
Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest.
It will be a bearer instrument.
It will not carry the name of the payee.
It can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.
May be purchased by a citizen of India, or entities incorporated or established in India.
A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
Only the registered Political Parties which have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha elections or the State Legislative Assembly are eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.
The electoral bonds are aimed at rooting out the current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to the generation of black money in the economy.
How will the Bonds help?
Encourage political donations of clean money from individuals, companies, HUF, religious groups, charities, etc.
After purchasing the bonds, these entities can hand them to political parties of their choice, which must redeem them within the prescribed time.
Why there is a controversy?
The introduction of the electoral bond scheme is part of what appears to be a growing trend away from transparency and accountability, two values which were already sparse in relation to Indian political parties.
Opponents to the scheme allege that since the identity of the donor of electoral bonds has been kept anonymous, it could lead to an influx of black money.
Others allege that the scheme was designed to help big corporate houses donate money without their identity being revealed.
Penicillin to fight rheumatic fever
The government is planning on the revival of Penicillin in a bid to fight against drug resistance and to tackle rheumatic heart disease.
Penicillin is one of the oldest antibiotics known to man and is still effective in many cases as not many organisms have developed resistance to it yet.
Discovered in 1928.
Penicillin went out of production in India as a result of unrealistic price control.
What is Rheumatic fever?
It is endemic in India.
It remains to be one of the major causes of the cardiovascular disease which accounts for nearly 25 to 45 per cent of acquired heart disease.
Though, not all sore throats become rheumatic fever with severe joint pain or end up in rheumatic heart disease.
Rheumatic heart disease is a condition in which the heart is affected by a disease that eventually leaves no option but to replace the heart valves.
The government is planning to procure Penicillin centrally for a minimum of 3 years and give it to all children aged between 5 years to 15 years suffering from a sore throat, at least once.
Sovereign Gold Bond scheme
Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds.
The Bonds will be sold through Scheduled Commercial banks (except Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks), Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices, and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange Limited.
About the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme:
The sovereign gold bond was introduced by the Government in 2015.
Government introduced these bonds to help reduce India’s over dependence on gold imports.
The move was also aimed at changing the habits of Indians from saving in physical form of gold to a paper form with Sovereign backing.
Eligibility: The bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities, including individuals, HUFs, trusts, universities and charitable institutions.
Denomination and tenor: The bonds will be denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram. The tenor will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from the 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
Minimum and Maximum limit: The minimum permissible investment limit will be 1 gram of gold, while the maximum limit will be 4 kg for individual, 4 kg for HUF and 20 kg for trusts and similar entities per fiscal (April-March) notified by the government from time to time.
Joint Holder: In case of joint holding, the investment limit of 4 kg will be applied to the first applicant only.
Collateral: Bonds can be used as collateral for loans. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set equal to ordinary gold loan mandated by the Reserve Bank from time to time.
Tenor: The tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option after 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
Interest rate: The investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.50 percent per annum payable semi-annually on the nominal value.
It flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8 and has a range of 290 km.
The missile has been jointly developed with Russia and is named after the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva in Russia.
It is extremely difficult to be intercepted by surface to air missiles deployed on leading warships around the world.
The range of the BrahMos missile can be extended up to 400 km as certain technical restrictions were lifted after India became a full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime or MTCR in 2016.
It is a multiplatform e it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missilewith pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.