15 May Current Affairs
May 15, 2019
17 May Current Affairs
May 17, 2019
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16 May Current Affairs

Economic Census

In News:

The 7th Economic Census -2019 is being conducted by MoSPI to provide disaggregated information on various operational and structural aspects of all establishments in the country.


Implementing agency: MoSPI has partnered with Common Service Centres, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle under the MEITY as the implementing agency.

About Economic Censuses:

Launched in 1976 as a plan scheme.

Coverage: All entrepreneurial units in the country which are involved in any economic activities of either agricultural or non-agricultural sector which are engaged in production and/or distribution of goods and/or services not for the sole purpose of own consumption.

Objective: It provides detailed information on operational and other characteristics such as number of establishments, number of persons employed, source of finance, type of ownership etc.

Significance: This information used for micro level/ decentralized planning and to assess contribution of various sectors of the economy in the gross domestic product (GDP).

Total Six Economic Censuses (EC) have been conducted till date. First one was conducted in 1977 by CSO.

National Testing Agency

About NTA:

In pursuance of the Budget Announcement 2017-18, the Union Cabinet, in November 2017, approved creation of the National Testing Agency (NTA) as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the country.


NTA will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by MHRD.

The CEO will be the Director General to be appointed by the Government.

There will be a Board of Governors comprising members from user institutions.

The Director General will be assisted by 9 verticals headed by academicians/ experts.


NTA will be given a one-time grant of Rs.25 crore from the Government of India to start its operation in the first year. Thereafter, it will be financially self-sustainable.


In News:

Online writing of Annual Performance Appraisal Report (APAR) in SPARROW (Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window) has been launched for over 46,000 Group B & C officers of Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC), working in its various formations all across the country.


Online writing of APARs in SPARROW for IRS (C&CE) Officers has already been implemented w.e.f. 2016-17.

What is it?

This Project leverages modern technology for enhancing the overall efficiency and morale of the huge workforce working in Central GST and Customs formations of CBIC. The Project is an important milestone in the journey towards digitisation and paper less working.

It brings a complete change in APAR management of such large number of Group ‘B’ & ‘C’ Officers/ Staff of CBIC, which would, in turn, lead to better HR Management.

Artemis Mission

In News:

NASA’s next mission to the Moon will be called Artemis.


The mission was named Artemis after the Greek mythological goddess of the Moon and twin sister to Apollo, namesake of the program that sent 12 American astronauts to the Moon between 1969 and 1972.

About Artemis Mission:

ARTEMIS stands for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun.

Objective: It consists of spacecraft to measure what happens when the Sun’s radiation hits our rocky moon, where there is no magnetic field to protect it.

Background: The ARTEMIS mission uses two of the five in-orbit spacecraft from another NASA Heliophysics constellation of satellites (THEMIS) that were launched in 2007 and successfully completed their mission earlier in 2010. The ARTEMIS mission allowed NASA to repurpose two in-orbit spacecraft to extend their useful science mission, saving tens of millions of taxpayer dollars instead of building and launching new spacecraft.

Source: the Hindu

Services Trade Restrictiveness Index

In News:

Union Commerce ministry has found problems with the current method of Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) which ranks countries based on their services trade policies, indicating the outcomes are biased and counter-intuitive.


The 2018 edition covers a total of 45 economies (36 OECD and the rest non-OECD) and 22 sectors.

About STRI:

Launched in 2014 and computed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The database is based on regulations currently in force.

Uses and significance: It helps to identify which policy measures restrict trade. It provides policy makers and negotiators with information and measurement tools to improve domestic policy environment, negotiate international agreements and open up international trade in services. It can also help governments identify best practice and then focus their domestic reform efforts on priority sectors and measures.

Scores: STRI indices take the value from 0 to 1, where 0 is completely open and 1 is completely closed.

Issues and concerns raised by India:

Design issues that render STRI impractical for use. For example, the index seems to show the Indian services sector as one of the most restrictive, particularly in policy areas like foreign entry. This seems surprising as since 1991, the one area that has seen maximum liberalisation in India is FDI.

Theoretical and empirical inconsistencies in the OECD methodology. For example, change in regulatory measures in one policy area can lead to dramatic changes in the STRI in another policy area which is not very useful for policy purposes.

Developed country bias: The data seems to have been generated by rather arbitrary procedures and reflects a developed country bias.

Source: Indian Express

RBI releases ‘Vision 2021’ for e-payment system

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released ‘Payment and Settlement Systems in India: Vision 2019 – 2021’, a vision document for safe, secure, quick and affordable e-payment system.


The core theme of the vision document is ‘Empowering Exceptional (E)payment Experience’, that stresses on empowering every Indian to access a bunch of e-payment options safely and conveniently.

Highlights of Payment Systems Vision 2021:

It has 36 specific action points and 12 specific outcomes.

The main agenda of the vision document is the ‘no-compromise’ approach towards safety and security of payment systems.

It outlined the measures that the central bank will undertake to foster innovation, cybersecurity, financial inclusion, customer protection, and competition.

The vision document aims to achieve “a ‘highly digital’ and ‘cash-lite’ society through Goal Posts (4Cs):

  • Competition
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Convenience
  • Confidence

Key focus areas:

  • Boosting customer experience with robust grievance redressal
  • Empowering e-payment service providers
  • Enabling eco-system and infrastructure for the e-payment system
  • Putting down forward-looking regulations
  • Undertaking Risk-focused Supervision


The RBI has highlighted the need for a self-regulatory organisation for the digital payment space, which can serve as a two-way communication channel between the players and the regulator.

The number of digital transactions is expected to increase more than four times, from 20.69 billion in December 2018 to 87.07 billion in December 2021.

The digital payment transaction turnover vis-à-vis gross domestic product (at current market prices) is expected to further increase to 10.37 per cent in 2019, 12.29 per cent in 2020, and 14.80 per cent in 2021.

Way ahead:

The RBI will implement the approach highlighted in the Vision document during the period 2019 – 2021. RBI’s efforts will focus towards facilitating the operation of efficient and price-attractive payment systems. However, there will be minimal intervention of the RBI in fixing charges for customers to avail of digital payments.

Source: The Hindu

India joins global initiative to combat online extremism

In News:

India has joined a major global initiative ‘Christchurch call to action’ to combat terrorism and extremism online; and make internet a safe and secure place to be.

About Christchurch call to action:

The initiative was launched during the “Online Extremism Summit” in Paris.

It was launched jointly by India, France, New Zealand, Canada and several other countries. A total of 18 countries including the European Union supported the initiative along with social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

Aim to prevent the abuse of the internet.

The initiative outlines collective and voluntary commitments from governments and online service providers to address the issue of terrorist and violent extremist content online.

It calls for a free, open and secure internet to promote connectivity, enhance social inclusiveness and foster economic growth.


The ‘Christchurch call to action’ initiative has been named after the New Zealand city Christchurch, where over 50 people were killed and over 20 got injured in shootings at two mosques.


As internet is not resistant towards the abuse by terrorists and violent extremists, there is an urgent need of collective efforts to secure the internet from such terror groups. Recent Christchurch terror attacks were broadcasted online by terrorists. The broadcasting of such content online has severe impact on victims of such incident, on collective security and on people across the world.

The Christchurch attack stressed on the urgent call of action by the governments, civil society, online service providers, and social media companies to eliminate terrorist and extremist content online.

Source: The Hindu

MoU signed for Plantation of 10,000 Rudraksh Trees in Uttarakhand

To create a greener ecosystem in Ganga Basin National Mission for Clean Ganga has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with HCL Foundation and INTACH. Its objective is to undertaking project of Plantation of Rudraksh Trees in Uttrakhand. It is a CSR initiative under Namani Gange Programme.

It aims at planting 10,000 Rudraksh trees in the Ganga Basin area in Uttarakhand in association with the local community.

Elaeocarpus ganitrus or Rudraksh Tree is a large evergreen tree. It has broad-leaves whose seed is traditionally used for prayer beads in Hinduism and Buddhism. Seeds of this tree are known as Rudraksh.

‘Army scouts masters competition’

India for the first time will host the ‘Army scouts masters competition’. The event is scheduled to be held between end of July to mid-August 2019, in Jaisalmer City, Rajasthan.

India will be a co-host of Army International Scout Masters Competition 2019, which marks first such edition in international competition in which a country is a host as well as a participant.

The Army Scouts Masters Competition is a part of International Army Games steered by Russia.

It is designed to forge strong ties with friendly foreign countries and to promote peaceful co-existence, collaboration, cooperation, team spirit, tranquility and development between contestants and at the same time facilitating sharing of best practices, hardware and technology.