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18 October Current Affairs

South Asia Economic Focus, Making (De) Centralization Work

In News:

World Bank released its report titled ‘South Asia Economic Focus, Making (De) Centralization Work,’ a twice-a-year regional economic update.


In line with a global downward trend, growth in South Asia is projected to slow to 5.9% in 2019, down 1.1 percentage points from April 2019 estimates.

Bangladesh has become the second-fastest growing economy in South Asia after Bhutan. In Bangladesh, the real GDP growth is estimated at 8.1 per cent in 2019, up from 7.9 per cent in 2018. The country’s growth is projected at 7.2 per cent in 2020 and 7.3 per cent in 2021.

In India, growth is projected to fall to 6.0 this fiscal year. Growth is then expected to gradually recover to 6.9 per cent in fiscal year 2021 and to 7.2 per cent in the following year.

Pakistan’s growth rate is projected to deteriorate further to a mere 2.4 per cent this fiscal year, as monetary policy remains tight, and the planned fiscal consolidation will compress domestic demand, it said.

Decentralisation in South Asia has yet to deliver on its promises and, if not properly managed, can degenerate into fragmentation.

Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs

In News:

Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has launched a programme to strengthen Make in India.


Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has launched a programme to attract investments into India and strengthen Make in India through manufacture and other operations under bond scheme, of Customs Act, 1962. The Section enables conduct of manufacture and other operations in a customs bonded warehouse.

The scheme has been modernized with clear and transparent procedures, simplified compliance requirements ICT-based documentation and account keeping, by issue of Manufacture and Other Operations in Warehouse Regulations 2019.

The main features of the scheme are as below –

A single application cum approval form prescribed for uniformity of practice. The jurisdictional Commissioner of Customs will function as a single point of approval to set up and oversee the operations of such units.

No geographical limitation on where such units can be set up.

The unit can import goods (both inputs and capital goods) under a customs duty deferment program. The duties are fully remitted if the processed goods are exported.

There will be no interest liability and units will benefit through improved liquidity.

GST compliant goods can be procured from the domestic market for use in manufacture and other operations in a section 65 unit.

A single digital account has been prescribed for ease of doing business and easy compliance.

The scheme would also enable efficient capacity utilization, as there is no limit on quantum of clearances that can be exported or cleared to the domestic market.

Guidelines On ‘On Tap’ Authorisation Of Payment

In News:

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued guidelines on ‘on tap’ authorisation of payment systems.

Recent decision:

In order to benefit from diversification of risk as also to encourage innovation and competition, RBI has decided to offer on-tap authorisation for the following payment systems –

Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit (BBPOU).

Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS).

White Label ATMs (WLAs).

Minimum net-worth criteria:

For entities desirous to function, operate, or provide platforms for BBPOU, they should have a 100 crore rupees net worth and should be maintained at all times.

In case of TReDS, the minimum paid up equity capital should be 25 crore rupees.

The minimum net worth for entities desirous of entering the WLA segment should be 100 crore rupees.

The KYC requirements for retail payment systems shall be as per the Master Directions on Know Your Customer (KYC) issued by the Department of Banking Regulation (DBR), RBI.

Food Safety Mitra Scheme, Eat Right Jacket and Eat Right Jhola

In News:

On the occasion of World Food Day, Union Health Minister launched Food Safety Mitra Scheme, Eat Right Jacket and Eat Right Jhola.

Food Safety Mitra Scheme:

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has introduced scheme of Food Safety Mitra (FSM) through which it plans to engage motivated individuals with the food safety ecosystem at ground level.

A FSM is an individual professional certified by FSSAI who assists in compliances related to FSS Act, Rules & Regulations with three avatars- Digital Mitra, Trainer Mitra and Hygiene Mitra depending upon their respective roles and responsibilities.

Eat Right Jhola:

During the event, the Minister also launched Eat Right Jhola which is a reusable, washable and bio-degradable bag.

Eat Right Jacket:

Eat Right Smart Jacket has been introduced to giving an identity to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) staff to ensure transparent inspection.

It’s embedded with an RFID tag and QR code. It is linked to software to capture entry of inspection staff into premise for monitoring.

20th Livestock Census report

In News:

Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has released the 20th Livestock Census report.


The Livestock Census has been conducted in the country periodically since 1919-20. The Livestock Census covers all domesticated animals and its headcounts.

The 20th Livestock Census was conducted in participation with all States and Union Territories. The enumeration was done both in rural and urban areas.

Various species of animals (Cattle, Buffalo, Mithun, Yak, Sheep, Goat, Pig, Horse, Pony, Mule, Donkey Camel, Dog, Rabbit and Elephant)/poultry birds (Fowl, Duck, Emu, Turkeys, Quail and other poultry birds) possessed by the households, household enterprises/non-household enterprises and institutions have been counted at their site.

The following are the key results of the 20th Livestock Census:

The total Livestock population is 535.78 million in the country showing an increase of 4.6% over Livestock Census-2012.

Total Bovine population (Cattle, Buffalo, Mithun and Yak) is 302.79 Million in 2019 which shows an increase of about 1% over the previous census.

The total number of cattle in the country in 2019 is 192.49 million showing an increase of 0.8 % over previous Census.

The Female Cattle (Cows population) is 145.12 million, increased by 18.0% over the previous census (2012).

The total buffaloes in the country is 109.85 million showing an increase of about 1.0% over previous Census.

The Indigenous/Non-descript female cattle population has increased by 10% in 2019 as compared to previous census. The population of the total Exotic/Crossbred Cattle has increased by 26.9 % in 2019 as compared to previous census.

The total milch animals (in-milk and dry) in cows and buffaloes is 125.34 million, an increase of 6.0 % over the previous census.

The total sheep in the country is 74.26 million in 2019, increased by 14.1% over previous Census.

The Goat population in the country in 2019 is 148.88 million showing an increase of 10.1% over the previous census.

The total Pigs in the country is 9.06 Million in the current Census, declined by 12.03% over the previous Census.

The other livestock including mithun, yak, horses, ponies, mule, donkeys, camel together contribute around 0.23% of the total livestock and their total count is 1.24 million.

The total poultry in the country is 851.81 million in 2019, registered an increase of 16.8% in the total poultry.

The backyard poultry has increased by around 46% as compared to previous Census. The total birds in the backyard poultry in the country is 317.07 million.

The total Commercial Poultry in the country is 534.74 million in 2019, increased by 4.5% over previous Census.

World’s Children report 2019

In News:

UNICEF released its State of the World’s Children report for 2019.

Key findings of the report:

One in three children under the age of five years — around 200 million children worldwide — are either undernourished or overweight.

Half of India’s children suffer from some form of malnutrition. 35% of Indian children suffer from stunting due to lack of nutrition, 17% suffer from wasting, 33% are underweight and 2% are overweight.

Among countries in South Asia, India fares the worst (54%) on prevalence of children under five who are either stunted, wasted or overweight. Afghanistan and Bangladesh follow at 49% and 46%, respectively. Sri Lanka and the Maldives are the better performing countries in the region.

India also has the highest burden of deaths among children under five per year, with over 8 lakh deaths in 2018. It is followed by Nigeria, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, at 8.6 lakh, 4.09 lakh and 2.96 lakh deaths per year.

Only 61% Indian children, adoloscents and mothers consume dairy products at least once a week, and only 40% of them consume fruit once a week. One in five children under age 5 has vitamin A deficiency, which is a severe health problem in 20 states.

Global Hunger Index (GHI)

In News:

The latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) has ranked India a lowly 102 among the 117 countries it has mapped.


Background: The GHI has been brought out almost every year by Welthungerhilfe (lately in partnerships with Concern Worldwide) since 2000; this year’s report is the 14th one.

Indicators: For each country in the list, the GHI looks at four indicators –

Undernourishment (which reflects inadequate food availability);

Child Wasting (which reflects acute undernutrition);

Child Stunting (which reflects chronic undernutrition);

Child Mortality (which reflects both inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environment).

Weightage: Each country’s data are standardised on a 100-point scale and a final score is calculated after giving 33.33% weight each to components 1 and 4, and giving 16.66% weight each to components 2 and 3.

Categories: Countries scoring less than or equal to 9.9 are slotted in the “low” category of hunger, while those scoring between 20 and 34.9 are in the “serious” category and those scoring above 50 are in the “extremely alarming” category.

Findings for 2019:

On the whole, the number of hungry people has risen from 785 million in 2015 to 822 million. Multiple countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010.

In 2019, India is ranked 102 among the 117 countries it has mapped. In 2018, India was pegged at 103 but last year 119 countries were mapped.

With an overall score of 30.3, India falls in the “serious” category.

India has the highest percentage of children who suffer from acute undernutrition. On other parameters, where India has improved, the pace has been relatively slow.

Among the BRICS grouping, India is ranked the worst, with China at 25 and a score of just 6.5.

Within South Asia, too, India is behind every other country. Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan (in that order) are all ahead of India.

Van Dhan Internship Programme

In News:

Van Dhan Internship Programme of TRIFED launched.

Key features of the programme:

Organised by TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

18 interns (to be called Minister’s interns) from some of the reputed Institutes of Rural Management/ Management Institutions/ Institutes of Social Work/ Social Services of the country are participating.

These Interns will help the tribal population in becoming self reliant and entrepreneurs.

They will support the TRIFED activities on livelihood promotion, value addition of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFTs), marketing and credit linkages.

They will develop tools and techniques on institutional development including mechanism for determination of a just price or producer price of Minor Forest Products.

About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative:

The initiative aims to promote MFPs-centric livelihood development of tribal gatherers and artisans.

It mainstreams the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level.

Significance: Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from the present 20% to around 60%.


Implemented through Ministry of Tribal Affairs as Nodal Department at the Central Level and TRIFED as Nodal Agency at the National Level.

At State level, the State Nodal Agency for MFPs and the District collectors are envisaged to implement at grassroot level.

Locally the Kendras are proposed to be managed by a Managing Committee (an SHG) consisting of representatives of Van Dhan SHGs in the cluster.

Composition: As per the plan, TRIFED will facilitate establishment of MFP-led multi-purpose Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, a cluster of 10 SHGs comprising of 30 tribal MFP gatherers each, in the tribal areas.

Significance of MFP:

Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas. The importance of MFPs for this section of the society can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and cash income.

It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter gatherers, and the landless. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend major portion of their time.

This activity has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used/sold by women. MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.

Project Soli

In News:

Recently launched Google Pixel 4 uses a radar-based Soli chip to introduce Motion Sense, a feature that provides similar touchless gesture-based controls.

What is Project Soli?

Google announced Project Soli in 2015. Since then, Google’s ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) division has been developing the technology, which can be used in wearables, phones, computers, cars and IoT devices.

What is Google’s Soli chip?

Google’s Soli is a purpose-built chip to track your motion on a microscopic scale.

It uses miniature radar for real-time motion tracking of the human hand; it’s able to track sub-millimetre motion at high speeds with great accuracy.


The Soli chip measures just 8mm x 10mm and it incorporates the sensor and antenna array into a single device, meaning it can be used in even the smallest wearables.

It has no moving parts, consumes very little energy, isn’t affected by light conditions and works through most materials making it a pretty exciting bit of technology.

How does Google’s Soli chip work?

The Google Soli chip uses radar, so it works by emitting electromagnetic waves with objects within the beam reflecting information back to the antenna.

Information gathered from the reflected signal – things like time delay or frequency changes – give the device information about the interaction.

Why does India not allow the Soli chip?

The Soli radar chip works on the 60 GHz spectrum frequency as it has the least interference for the kind of minute movements Google wants to track. However, the 60 GHz spectrum is not commercially usable in India.

The 60 GHz band is also known as V-band or WiGig band (Wi-Fi at 60 GHz) using IEEE 802.11ad protocol.