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October 12, 2019
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October 15, 2019
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14 October Current Affairs

Kerala Bank

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given its final nod to the Kerala Government for the formation of the Kerala Bank.

About:

The Kerala Bank would be formed amalgamating the District Co-operative Banks (DCBs) with Kerala State Co-operative Bank. With its formation, the proposed Kerala Bank will be the largest banking network in the state.

The final nod by the RBI was subjected to some conditions. The Kerala government will have to complete the stipulations laid down for the merger and submit a compliance report to the RBI before March 31, 2020.

However, the proposed amalgamation will have to wait for the High Court’s order on cases challenging the amendment to Section 14(A) of the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act (to do with transfer of assets and liabilities).

The government had claimed that the objective of the formation of the Kerala Bank was to strengthen the cooperative sector, while the Opposition had alleged that it would destroy the traditional cooperative sector.

SARAS Aajeevika Mela

In News:

The Ministry of Rural Development is organising SARAS Aajeevika Mela at India Gate Lawns from 10th October to 23rd October, 2019.

About:

SARAS Aajeevika Mela is an initiative by the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD). It is organised by the marketing arm of the Ministry, Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART).

The objective of this Mela is to bring the rural women Self Help Groups (SHGs) formed with support of DAY-NRLM, under one platform to show-case their skills, sell their products and help them build linkages with bulk buyers.

Through participation in SARAS Aajeevika Mela, these rural SHG women get vital national level exposure to understand the demand and taste of urban customers.

Elastocaloric Effect

In News:

Researchers from multiple universities have found that the elastocaloric effect, if harnessed, may be able to do away with the need of fluid refrigerants used in fridges and air-conditioners. The results of the research were published in the journal Science.

About:

When rubbers bands are twisted and untwisted, it produces a cooling effect. This is called the “elastocaloric” effect. When a rubber band is stretched, it absorbs heat from its environment, and when it is released, it gradually cools down.

Researchers have found that the elastocaloric effect, if harnessed, may be able to do away with the need of fluid refrigerants used in fridges and air-conditioners. These fluids are susceptible to leakages, and can contribute to global warming.

In the elastocaloric effect, the transfer of heat works much the same way as when fluid refrigerants are compressed and expanded.

The level of efficiency of the heat exchange in rubber bands “is comparable to that of standard refrigerants and twice as high as stretching the same materials without twisting”. Their findings may lead to the development of greener, higher-efficiency and low-cost cooling technology.

Kamini Roy

In News:

Google Doodle celebrated the 155th birth anniversary of women’s rights activist Kamini Roy.

About:

Kamini Roy (1864 – 1933) was a leading Bengali poet, social worker and feminist in British India.

She was the first woman honours graduate in British India.

She published her first collection of verses Alo Chhaya in 1889, and two more books after that. She was president of the Bengali Literary Conference in 1930.

In 1921, she was one of the leaders of the Bangiya Nari Samaj, an organization formed to fight for woman’s suffrage. The Bengal Legislative Council granted limited suffrage to women in 1925, allowing Bengali women to exercise their right for the first time in the 1926 Indian general election.

She was a member of the Female Labour Investigation Commission (1922–23).

Manifestos

In News:

With Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra scheduled for October 21, the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra and the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee published its Election Manifestos.

About:

A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.

In India, Election manifestos are not legally enforceable documents. There is no provision in law under which political parties could be held liable for not fulfilling promises made in their election manifestos.

Guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India in 2013 on election manifestos in the Model Code of Conduct (MCC):

The election manifesto shall not contain anything repugnant to the ideals enshrined in the Constitution.

Political parties should avoid making promises which are likely to vitiate the purity of the election process or exert undue influence on the voters in exercising their franchise.

It is expected that manifestos also reflect the rationale for the promises and broadly indicate the ways and means to meet the financial requirements for it.

Prohibitory period for the release of manifestos during elections:

In case of single-phase election, manifesto shall not be released during the prohibitory period, as prescribed under Section 126 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

In case of multi-phase elections, manifesto shall not be released during the prohibitory periods of all the phases of those elections.

In Section 126 of the RP Act, the ‘prohibitory period’ signifies the “period of forty-eight hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll”.

Depository Receipts (DRs)

In News:

Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) came out with a detailed framework for issuance of depository receipts (DRs). The new framework would come into force with immediate effect.

Background:

A depository receipt is a foreign currency denominated instrument, listed on an international exchange, issued by a foreign depository to a domestic custodian and includes global depository receipts (GDRs).

The framework comes after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in August said that the markets regulator would soon implement the Depository Receipt Scheme 2014. The liberalised norms for DRs were issued in 2014 but could not be implemented due to concerns raised by Sebi.

This will give Indian companies increased access to foreign funds through American Depository Receipt (ADR)/ Global Depository Receipt (GDR).

Key highlights of the framework:

SEBI has not allowed unlisted companies to issue DRs. However, companies can do a simultaneous issuance, provided the allotment and listing in the domestic market takes places first.

DR issuances can take place only on the recognised global exchanges. The move is aimed at excluding smaller platforms, which in the past have been prone to manipulation.

It has also barred domestic residents as, well as, non-resident Indian (NRIs) from investing in the DRs issued by an Indian company.

Also, the equity issued under the DR programme will not be considered as public shareholding for the purpose of computing the 25 per cent minimum public float mandatory for listed companies.

The pricing of the DR issued in the overseas markets cannot be less than the price in the domestic markets.

DRs will be included for calculating the foreign shareholding in the company and will have to adhere to the caps imposed.

RTI Act marks its 14th Anniversary

In News:

As the RTI Act marks its 14th anniversary, a report card analysing its performance showed that government officials face hardly any punishment for violating the law by denying applicants the legitimate information sought by them.

About:

The ‘Report Card on the Performance of Information Commissions in India’ was prepared by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies.

It analysed information from 22 commissions, which disposed of almost 1.17 lakh cases between January 2018 and March 2019.

Key findings of the study:

The State and Central Information Commissions, which are the courts of appeal under the Act, failed to impose penalties in about 97% of the cases where violations took place in 2018-19.

The State Commissions of Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura did not impose penalties in any cases at all.

The commissions also have the power to recommend disciplinary action against officials for persistent violations. Only 10 states invoked these powers.

There were 2.18 lakh cases pending with the commissions in March 2019. As of October 11, 2019, the Central Information Commission alone had over 33,000 pending cases. Any new appeal would have to wait more than one-and-a-half years for resolution. The backlog is exacerbated by the fact that four out of 11 CIC posts are yet to be filled.

Kanyashree scheme

In News:

The state government of West Bengal is setting up Kanyashree University in Nadia district and Kanyashree colleges across the state so as to empower girls.

About Kanyashree scheme:

What is it? Kanyashree is a conditional cash transfer scheme aiming at improving the status and wellbeing of the girl child by incentivising schooling of teenage girls and delaying their marriages until the age of 18. It received the United Nations Public Service Award last year.

Performance of the scheme: Through the initiative, cash was deposited into the bank account of girls for every year they remained in school and were unmarried. This initiative led to a “drastic reduction in child marriage, increase in female education and female empowerment.”

Facts:

The United Nations, in 2017, awarded the West Bengal government the first place for Public Service for its “Kanyashree” scheme.

NASA ICON Mission

In News:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched a satellite ICON to detect dynamic zones of Earth’s Ionosphere. The satellite Ionosphere Connection Explorer (ICON) was launched from an aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean near the Florida coast.

About ICON Mission:

The ICON satellite will study the Earth’s Ionosphere. It includes various layers of the uppermost atmosphere where free electrons flow freely.

The ICON mission is the 39th successful launch and satellite deployment by Pegasus rocket.

This mission is operated by the University of California.

It was originally planned to launch in late 2017 but delayed due to the problems with the Pegasus XL rocket.

It is equipped with 780-watt solar arrays to power the instruments.

Earth’s Atmospheric Layers:

Troposphere: It starts at the Earth’s surface and extends 8 to 14.5 kilometers high (5 to 9 miles). This part of the atmosphere is the most dense. Almost all weather is in this region.

Stratosphere: It starts just above the troposphere and extends to 50 kilometers (31 miles) high. The ozone layer, which absorbs and scatters the solar ultraviolet radiation, is in this layer.

Mesosphere: The mesosphere starts just above the stratosphere and extends to 85 kilometers (53 miles) high. Meteors burn up in this layer.

Thermosphere: It starts just above the mesosphere and extends to 600 kilometers (372 miles) high. Aurora and satellites occur in this layer.

Ionosphere: It is an abundant layer of electrons and ionized atoms and molecules that stretches from about 48 kilometers (30 miles) above the surface to the edge of space at about 965 km (600 mi), overlapping into the mesosphere and thermosphere. This dynamic region grows and shrinks based on solar conditions and divides further into the sub-regions: D, E and F; based on what wavelength of solar radiation is absorbed. The ionosphere is a critical link in the chain of Sun-Earth interactions. This region is what makes radio communications possible.

Exosphere: This is the upper limit of our atmosphere. It extends from the top of the thermosphere up to 10,000 km (6,200 mi).

Emperor penguins

It is one of Antarctica’s most iconic species.

It is listed as ‘near threatened’ in the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Experts have demanded that the IUCN status of species should be changed to ‘vulnerable’ from ‘near threatened’.

The experts also advocated that the emperor penguin should be listed by the Antarctic Treaty as a Specially Protected Species.

The 1959 treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent.