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September 16, 2019
18 September Current Affairs
September 18, 2019
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17 September Current Affairs

Hindi Divas

In News:

Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s assertion on the occasion of Hindi Divas Samaroh 2019 that Hindi, as the most spoken language, could unite the country continued to draw sharp reaction from the Opposition parties. He also awarded Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar and Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar on the occasion.

About:

Hindi Divas is an annual day celebrated on 14 September because Hindi language was first adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India as the official language of India on September 14, 1949.

It is mostly a government sponsored event in Central government of India offices, firms, schools and other institutions which aims to promote Hindi language. It is celebrated by organizing feasts, events & competitions.

Rajbhasha Awards, introduced in 2015 are also conferred upon on this day by Union Home Ministry.

Rajbhasa Kirti Puraskar:

It is given for outstanding work in promoting the progressive use of official language to Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Undertakings, banks and in-house Hindi magazines.

Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar:

It comprises following three awards:

  • Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar to Citizens of India for writing original book in Hindi on knowledge and science-based subjects.
  • Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar to Central Government Employees (including retired one) for writing original book in Hindi.
  • Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar to Central Government Employees (including retired one) for writing excellent article in Hindi.

No Compulsory License

In News:

As part of its effort to remove the license raj and ensure ease of doing business, Government has relaxed licensing rules for manufacturers.

About:

The commerce Ministry said that no compulsory license would be required for manufacturers of goods, barring four segments namely:

  1. Cigars and Cigarettes of tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes
  2. Electronic aerospace and defense equipment
  3. Industrial Explosives
  4. Hazardous chemicals

Also, no industrial/arms license is required for the manufacturer of any parts or accessories in the defense sector, unless specifically listed for procuring licenses.

Houthi rebels

In News:

Houthi rebels from Yemen carried out drone attacks on two major Saudi Aramco oil facilities, in Abqaiq and Hijrat Khurais in Saudi Arabia.

About:

Abqaiq oil processing facility, operated by Saudi Aramco in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil processing facility.

The attacks have impacted Saudi Arabia’s oil production and exports, and in turn the global oil market. The attack has cut output by 5.7 million barrels per day. That is close to half of the kingdom’s output, and 5% of global oil supply.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, ships more than 7 million barrels of oil to global destinations every day. The output cut is expected to send oil prices up $3-$5 per barrel.

GST Network (GSTN)

In News:

The GST Network (GSTN) has decided to make Aadhaar authentication mandatory for new dealers from January 2020 to check malpractices in GST. Aadhaar authentication was earlier optional.

About:

Under the new rule, those who do not prefer Aadhaar authentication can go for physical verification, which will be carried out in three days.

Currently, Aadhaar authentication is optional and no physical verification is required.

The decision was taken after noticing in the last two years that there is a good number of fly-by- night operators or ghost traders, who make fake invoices.

Measures to Boost Export and Housing Sectors

In News:

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a fresh set of measures worth around 70,000 crore rupees to boost exports and housing sector.

Measures to boost exports:

The government will provide a 10,000 crore rupees special window with an aim to help complete ongoing affordable and middle-income housing projects.

The housing projects considered for the special window have been limited to non-NPA (Non-Performing Assets) and non-NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) projects.

Measures to boost housing sector:

The other key incentives include extending the scheme of reimbursement of taxes and duties for export promotion, fully automated electronic refund for Input Tax Credits (ITC) in GST.

An inter-ministerial group will be set up under the department of commerce to monitor export finance credit on a weekly basis.

The scheme for Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) will replace Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for textiles. Textile and all other sectors which currently enjoy incentives up to 2 % over MEIS will transit into RoDTEP from January 1, 2020.

The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) will expand the scope of export credit insurance service (ECIS) and will offer higher insurance cover to banks lending working capital for exports.

India will now have its own version of an annual shopping festival on the lines of the one hosted by Dubai. This annual shopping festival, likely to begin from March 2020, will be held in four Indian cities and the focus areas would include gems and jewellery, textiles and leather.

A provision for higher insurance cover on exports by MSMEs was also announced.

The government will also set up an FTA Utilization Mission headed by a senior officer in the Department of Commerce to maximize benefits available under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

Priority sector tag for export credit was also announced.

Survey of India (SoI)

In News:

The Survey of India (SoI) will for the first time rely on drones to map the country.

About:

Survey of India will deploy 300 drones for mapping country.

Currently the best SoI maps have a resolution of 1:250000, meaning a 1 cm on the map represent 2500 cm on the ground. The new maps being prepared will be of 1:500 resolution, meaning 1 cm will represent 500 cm.

The aim is to map 75% of India’s geography— about 2.4 million sq km of the 3.2 million sq km — within the next two years. Other than unprecedented detail, High-resolution maps will facilitate digitization of land titles in villages.

Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centers (VCBCs)

In News:

Starting with just a few vultures, the total number of vultures in the Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centres (VCBCs) have increased to more than 700.

Background:

The population of the vultures in the country declined sharply from 40 million in the 80s to a few thousand by 2009.

The major reason behind the vulture population getting nearly wiped out was the drug Diclofenac, found in the carcass of cattle the vultures fed on. The drug, whose veterinary use was banned in 2008, was commonly administered to cattle to treat inflammation.

Vulture Conservation And Breeding Centres (VCBC):

To study the cause of deaths of vultures, a Vulture Care Centre (VCC) was set up at Pinjore, Haryana in 2004. At present there are nine Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centres (VCBC) in India, of which three are directly administered by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

The objective of the VCBCs is not only to look after the vultures and breed them in captivity, but also to release them into the wild.

The total number of vultures in these VCBCs is now more than 700. The three endangered species of vultures bred in the VCBC are the White-backed, Long-billed and the Slender-billed vulture.

Housing Finance Securitisation Market

In News:

The Committee on the Development of Housing Finance Securitisation Market has submitted its report to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor.

About:

The Committee was chaired by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Senior Advisor, Bain & Co.

The Terms of Reference of the Committee were to review the existing state of mortgage securitisation market in India and make recommendations to address various issues relating to originators/investors as well as market microstructure.

The key recommendations of the Committee are as follows:

  • setting up of a government sponsored intermediary, through the National Housing Bank, to enable market making and standard setting;
  • developing standards for loan origination, loan servicing, loan documentation, and loans to be eligible for securitisation, including standardised formats for data collection and aggregation;
  • separation of regulatory guidelines for direct assignment transactions and transactions involving pass through certificates as well as for mortgage backed securities (MBS) and asset backed securities (ABS);
  • relaxation of regulatory norms for minimum holding period (MHP) and minimum retention requirement (MRR) for mortgage backed securities (MBS);
  • amendments for registration and stamp duty requirements and tax guidelines to reduce the transaction costs for securitisation;
  • treating the assets underlying a securitisation transaction as bankruptcy remote under the insolvency laws for financial firms;

Internal Working Group (IWG)

In News:

The Internal Working Group (IWG) constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to Review Agricultural Credit submitted its report to the RBI Governor.

Key recommendations:

The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) should introduce a web portal on the lines of PSB Loans in 59 Minutes to allow quicker credit access for the agriculture sector. The Centre launched the portal in November 2018 to provide loans of up to ₹1 crore to MSMEs in less than an hour.

State governments having a highly restrictive legal framework should be encouraged to reform it on basis of Model Land Leasing Act proposed by NITI Aayog or the Land Licensed Cultivators’ Act, 2011 of Andhra Pradesh to improve formal lending to tenant farmers.

The government should set up a federal institution, on the lines of goods and services tax (GST) Council to suggest and implement reforms in the field of agriculture.

Banks should be allowed to give consumption loans to farmers upto a sanctioned limit of ₹0.1 million under Priority Sector Lending (PSL) on certain conditions. However, such loans will not classify for PSL-Agri.

GoI and state governments should evaluate the effectiveness of current subsidy policies with regard to agri inputs and credit so as to improve viability of agriculture in a sustainable manner. In view of the above stated, loan waivers should be avoided.

At present there is no database of the Indian agriculture sector. Thus, GoI with the help of state governments should develop a centralised database for agriculture capturing details related to crops cultivated, cropping pattern, output, sown/irrigated area, health of soil, natural calamity.

GoI in partnership with state governments should set up a credit guarantee fund for the agriculture sector on the lines of credit guarantee schemes implemented in the MSME sector to cover the default risk of the borrowers.

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