15 August Current Affairs
August 15, 2018
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August 17, 2018
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16 August Current Affairs

Kanyashree scheme

In News:

West Bengal government has announced that there would not be any ceiling for a family’s annual earnings to be a beneficiary under the UN award winning Kanyashree scheme. Currently, girls who belong to families with annual family income not more than Rs 1.20 lakh is entitled to get the benefits.


The state government would also be coming up with a “Kanyashree University” for girls soon.

About Kanyashree scheme:

Kanyashree is a conditional cash transfer scheme aiming at improving the status and well being 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.”

UN Public Service Awards:

The UN Public Service Awards are given by the world body to institutions from across the world for their innovation and excellence in providing public services.

It highlights the pivotal role of public services in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Awards aim at discovering innovations in governance; reward excellence in the public sector; motivate public servants to further promote innovation; enhance professionalism in the public service; raise the image of public service; enhance trust in government; and collect and disseminate successful practices for possible replication.

Source: The Hindu

Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana

In News:

Odisha government has launched Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, a health for all scheme, on the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day.

Highlights of the scheme:

  • It will provide Rs. 5 lakh per family per annum for all Secondary and Tertiary Cashless Health Care Assistance. Women beneficiaries can get health cover upto Rs. 7 lakh.
  • This scheme will benefit 3.5 crore people (70 lakh families) at any govt. and private empanelled hospitals.
  • All beneficiaries currently enrolled under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), as well as other low-income families, are covered under the BSKY.

Challenges in implementation:

Trust model: Odisha purposes to form a Trust to implement the scheme, which will reimburse the hospitalisation cost and will not pay premiums to insurance companies. Though the Trust model saves money, the major constraints are weak in-house capacity, poor governance structure and susceptibility to outside interference.

Governance structure: Another uphill task for the Trust is to improve the governance structure. Riddled with weak IT system and poor administration, the uptake of the ongoing health insurance programmes is far from satisfactory.

Procedural challenges: The Odisha State Treatment Fund has several procedural challenges, which, increases the predicament of patients. The same issues will have a major bearing on the BKSY implementation, unless the Trust carefully introduces measures to lessen these problems.

The financial implication of such a humongous scheme needs deliberation. The current resource absorption for RSBY, BKKY and OSTF is not hefty. The claims ratio for RSBY is 65-68 per cent. This is unlikely to rise significantly, unless architectural correction is made.

The most important question is: Can BSKY improve the persistent health financing problem?

Currently, Odisha spends around 4.5% GDP on healthcare, of which only 1.05% is by the government. Out of pocket (OOP) expenditure constitutes 76% of total health expenditure, which is unexpectedly high. On the contrary, the utilisation from the public healthcare facilities is quite high, the proportion being 72.55% for outpatient visits.

Furthermore, a significant proportion of OOP is due to outpatient care, mainly due to drugs and diagnostics services (58% and 12%, respectively). Dubbed as a step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), BSKY may provide breathing space to millions of households burdened by costly health care.

However, a large part of OOP, which occurs due to outpatient visits (71%), will not be alleviated by any insurance mechanism, as it is meant only for hospitalisation.

Way ahead:

For effective implementation of the scheme, the state needs to design the Trust structure by hiring experts to suggest packages, costs and criteria for empanelment of private hospitals.

Source: The Hindu

Postal Highway

In News:

The Indian government has handed over a cheque amounting Rs 33 crore to the Nepal Government for construction of a Postal Highway.


The amount has been released towards 25% of the tendered cost (including 10% mobilization advance) of the two road packages of Birgunj-Thori Road being implemented under Postal Highway Project in Nepal with Government of India’s grant assistance.

With this payment, the Government of India has released a total of Rs 117.63 Crores to the Government of Nepal for implementing 14 packages of the Postal Highway Projects.

About the Postal Highway project:

Postal Highway also called Hulaki Rajmarg runs across the Terai region of Nepal, from Bhadrapur in the east to Dodhara in the west, cutting across the entire width of the country.

It is the Oldest highway in Nepal constructed by Juddha Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana & Padma Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana to aid transportation and facilitate postal services throughout the nation.

Source: The Hindu

Human space flight Programme

In News:

In his address to the nation on India’s 72nd Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India will send an astronaut to space in the year 2022.

Indian Human Space Flight Programme:

India plans to build a crew vehicle that can accommodate 2 or 3 astronauts and human rate its GLSV Mk-III launcher. In 2004, ISRO prepared a document with the road-map for developing technologies relevant to human spaceflight.

Initially, a manned space flight was proposed before 2017, at a budget of Rs 12.4 billion ($242 million), using a fully autonomous orbital vehicle carrying two or three crew members to 400-km (250 miles) low Earth orbit for up to 7 days and back. The planning commission approved the mission and the government sanctioned Rs 95 crore to study all aspects of the manned space mission.

ISRO has initiated pre-project Research and Development activities focusing on critical technologies for Human Space Fight Program.

Technological Challenges:

Three major areas that ISRO needs to master are, environmental control and life support (ECLS) system, crew escape system and flight suite and it’s currently working on them, under pre-project studies for which the Government sanctioned Rs 145 crore.

Recent technological advancements:

  • In what appears to be a preparation for the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO last month conduced its first ‘pad abort’ test that was successful.
  • The ‘pad abort’ test or Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure that helps pull the crew away from the launch vehicle when a mission has to be aborted. The test was conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
  • The Pad Abort Test demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad.

Way ahead:

A manned space mission is very different from all other missions that ISRO has so far completed. In terms of complexity and ambition, even the missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan) and Mars (Mangalyaan) are nowhere in comparison.

For a manned mission, the key distinguishing capabilities that ISRO has had to develop include the ability to bring the spacecraft back to Earth after flight, and to build a spacecraft in which astronauts can live in Earth-like conditions in space.

Key facts for Prelims:

If India does launch the Gaganyaan mission, it will be the the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China.

Source: The Hindu

RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil) initiative

In News:

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil), an initiative that will enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to bio-diesel.


Under this initiative, 64 companies at 101 locations have been identified to enable collection of used cooking oil. For instance: McDonald’s has already started converting used cooking oil to biodiesel from 100 outlets in Mumbai and Pune.

FSSAI wants businesses using more than 100 litres of oil for frying, to maintain a stock register and ensure that UCO is handed over to only registered collecting agencies.

Significance of the initiative:

FSSAI believes India has the potential to recover 220 crore litres of used cooking oil for the production of biodiesel by 2022 through a co-ordinated action. While biodiesel produced from used cooking oil is currently very small, but a robust ecosystem for conversion and collection is rapidly growing in India and will soon reach a sizable scale.


The initiative has been launched nearly a month after the food safety regulator notified standards for used cooking oil. According to FSSAI regulations, the maximum permissible limits for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) have been set at 25%, beyond which the cooking oil is unsafe for consumption.

What is Total Polar Compounds (TPC)?

In many countries, TPC is used to measure the quality of oil. The level of TPC increases every time oil is re-heated. Some of the studies show that TPC accumulation in oil without food is slower than that in oil frying with food.

Higher level of TPC in cooking oil leads to health issues like hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and liver disease. One of the studies also noticed high levels of glucose, creatinine and cholesterol with declined levels of protein and albumin in cooking oil.

Need for regulation:

Currently, used cooking oil is either not discarded or disposed of in such a manner that it chokes drains and sewerage systems. Apart from setting quality standards, the new regulation addresses the way this oil is discarded. As used cooking oil is considered the most reasonable feedstock for biodiesel production, the FSSAI is planning to redirect the used cooking oil from the food business operators. It has already started collecting used oil in small quantities either through a barter arrangement or at cost.

About FSSAI:

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments.

It was created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the Administrative Ministry for the implementation of FSSAI.

Composition: The Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are appointed by Government of India. The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.

Source: The Hindu

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

In News:

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has said the recent incident of cyber attack in Pune-based Cosmos Cooperative Bank, that has caused an over ₹90-crore loss, is due to a malware attack on the bank’s system.


Hackers transferred over ₹90 crore out on August 11 and 13 through the malware attack on the bank’s server by cloning debit cards of the bank’s customers. The transactions were carried through automated teller machines (ATMs) in 28 countries, including Canada, Hong Kong and India. Visa and Rupay debit cards were cloned.

What’s the Difference Between Malware, Trojan, Virus, and Worm?

Malware is defined as a software designed to perform an unwanted illegal act via the computer network. It could be also defined as software with malicious intent. Malware can be classified based on how they get executed, how they spread, and/or what they do. Some of them are discussed below.

  1. a) Virus: A virus is a program that can infect other programs by modifying them to include a possible evolved copy of itself. A virus can spread throughout a computer or network using the authorization of every user using it to infect their program. Every program so infected may also act as a virus and thus the infection grows. Viruses normally affect program files, but in some cases they also affect data files disrupting the use of data and destroying them completely.
  2. b) Worms: Worms are also disseminated through computer networks, unlike viruses, computer worms are malicious programs that copy themselves from system to system, rather than infiltrating legitimate files. For example, a mass mailing e-mail worm is a worm that sends copies of itself via e-mail. A network worm, on the other hand makes copies of itself throughout a network, thus disrupting an entire network.
  3. c) Trojans: Trojan is another form of Malware, trojans do things other than what is expected by the user. Trojan or trojan horse is a program that generally impairs the security of a system. Trojans are used to create back-doors (a program that allows outside access into a secure network) on computers belonging to a secure network so that a hacker can have access to the secure network.

Unlike viruses, Trojan horses do not replicate themselves but they can be just as destructive. One of the most insidious types of Trojan horse is a program that claims to rid your computer of viruses but instead introduces viruses onto your computer.

  1. d) Hoax: Hoax is an e-mail that warns the user of a certain system that is harming the computer. The message thereafter instructs the user to run a procedure (most often in the form of a download) to correct the harming system. When this program is run, it invades the system and deletes an important file.
  2. e) Spyware: Spyware invades a computer and, as its name implies, monitors a user’s activities without consent. Spywares are usually forwarded through unsuspecting e-mails with bonafide e-mail i.ds. Spyware continues to infect millions of computers globally.


National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India. It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). NPCI has ten promoter banks.

Its recent work of developing Unified Payments Interface aims to move India to a cashless society with only digital transactions.

It has successfully completed the development of a domestic card payment network called RuPay, reducing the dependency on international card schemes.

Source: The Hindu

Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman Award

In News:

The Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman distinction is conferred on persons once a year on the Independence Day in recognition of their substantial contribution in the field of Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Pali, Prakrit, Classical Oriya, Classical Kannada, Classical Telugu and Classical Malayalam.


The award introduced in the year 2002, is given to selected young scholars in the age group of 30 to 45 years. It carries a certificate of honour and a one time cash prize of Rs.1 lakh.

Source: PIB

World Congress of Philosophy

In News:

24th World Congress of Philosophy will be held in Beijing, China.


The World Congress of Philosophy is organized every five years by the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP) in collaboration with one of its member societies. It was first organized in 1900.

Aims of the 2018 Congress include an emphasis on exploring dimensions of the human and inquiring into the challenges facing humanity:

  • To globalize philosophical investigations to encompass the diverse forms of philosophizing by past and present thinkers across cultures, with special attention to critical reflections on philosophy itself and the tasks and functions of philosophy in the contemporary world.
  • To open the philosophical area to enable philosophers to address emerging global issues through fruitful interactions with other disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, with other activities in economic, social, political, and religious spheres, as well as with diverse cultures and traditions.
  • To encourage philosophical reflections to become public discourses on recurrent human concerns, such as ecology, justice, and peace.

Source: PIB

Global Liveability Index

  • The index is released by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), research and analysis wing of “The Economist” group, headquartered in London.
  • It ranks 140 global cities based on their living conditions.
  • It quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in the cities worldwide.
  • The index assigns cities scores on five broad parameters such as stability, healthcare, culture/environment, education, and infrastructure using 30 indicators.
  • In this year’s Global Liveability Index 2018, Vienna displaces Melbourne as the most liveable city in the world.
  • It is the first time that a European city has topped the rankings of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) annual survey
  • The other top 10 cities are Melbourne, Osaka, Calgary, Sydney, Vancouver, Tokyo, Toronto, Copenhagen and Adelaide.
  • Syrian capital of Damascus continues to be ranked at the bottom, Dhaka in Bangladesh is the second worst and Karachi in Pakistan is the fourth worst.
  • Indian cities Delhi and Mumbai ranked at 112 and 117 respectively.
  • This index is in contrast with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ Ease of Living Index for 111 Indian cities wherein Mumbai ranked at number 3, far ahead of New Delhi at a low 65th rank.

Hague Adoption Convention

  • The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption was adopted in the year of 1993.
  • It protects children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad.
  • It seeks to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children.
  • It reinforces Article 21 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • The convention operates through a system of national Central Authorities.
  • In India, Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is the nodal agency designated to deal with the provisions of this convention.
  • Recently, the government of Australia has decided to recommence the adoption programme with India as per this convention.
  • The Australian government had earlier put the adoptions from India on hold citing the charges of trafficking of childs by the Indian agencies for inter-country adoption.


  • Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog (SUBSEA) research program was proposed by NASA in the year 2017.
  • It brings together the space and ocean exploration by simulating a Space mission at sea.
  • The design of SUBSEA is similar to joint human-robotic space missions in which astronauts give directions to robots in surface based on the commands from Earth based science team.
  • Under this programme, under water remotely based vehicles or robots are operated by ship-based human operators, who inturn receive guidance from remote science team.
  • The target of SUBSEA 2018 is Loihi seamount, an underwater volcano off Hawaii Island.
  • The submarine will analyse the warm springs emanating from Loihi.
  • The purpose behind this is to predict conditions in other ocean worlds such as moons of Saturn (Enceladus) and Jupiter (Europa).
  • It will also help mission design teams to develop methods for doing operations in deep space environments such as Mars.


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