19 November Current Affairs
November 19, 2019
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November 21, 2019
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20 November Current Affairs

Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh (BPKK)

In News:

The Union Minister of Women and Child Development (WCD), along with Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh (BPKK) in New Delhi.

About:

The BPKK will be a repository of diverse crops across 128 agro-climatic zones in India for better nutritional outcomes.

The Kosh aims at reducing malnutrition through a multi-sectoral results-based framework, including agriculture, among women and children across the country

Ministry of Women and Child Development has collaborated with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for this project. The Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh seeks to promote healthy dietary practices and tackle under-nutrition in a sustainable manner.

Jaccha-Baccha Survey (JABS)

In News:

According to a new survey, called the Jaccha-Baccha Survey (JABS), a high proportion of women do not eat enough during pregnancy.

About:

The Jaccha-Baccha Survey (JABS) was conducted in June in six states (Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh) to map the state of pregnant and nursing women.

The survey was conducted under the guidance of development economists Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera.

Key findings of the survey:

Within the six states, which the survey divided into laggard and leader states, Uttar Pradesh performed the worst, while Himachal Pradesh, on average, performed the best.

UP also threw up the worst numbers on pregnant women not getting adequate rest — either because they had no one to help out at home, or because they had to actually go out and work on the farm in their condition.

The proportion of women who had to borrow or sell assets just to meet child delivery expenses too, was quite high, especially among the laggard states.

On access to basic healthcare facilities, the survey found that 36% women in UP did not get a single check-up at a primary health centre across different schemes.

Less than half of pregnant women in rural India eat nutritious food.

2019 Driving Cities Index

In News:

According to the 2019 Driving Cities Index, Two Indian cities, Mumbai and Kolkata are among the world’s worst cities to drive in.

About:

The 2019 Driving Cities Index was released by European car parts retailer Mister Auto.

The Index looked at 100 cities and measured them on three main categories that impact driving conditions for motorists — Infrastructure, Safety and Costs. These were further broken down into 15 sub-factors.

Key findings:

Calgary in Canada is named the best city for driving around the world, followed by Dubai and another Canadian city — Ottawa. The third and fourth position is held by Bern in Switzerland and El Paso in Texas, USA respectively.

Mumbai is placed last (100th) on the back of higher congestion and poor driving speed, while Kolkata is ranked just two spots higher (98th). The other worst cities for driving include Ulannbaatar, Mongolia (99th), Lagos, Nigeria (97th) and Karachi in Pakistan (96th).

Company Law Committee-2019

In News:

The report of the Company Law Committee-2019 was presented to the Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs by Injeti Srinivas, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, who chaired the Committee.

About:

The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in September, 2019 to further decriminalise the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 based on their gravity and to take other concomitant measures to provide further Ease of Living for corporates in the country.

The Committee has proposed amendments in 46 penal provisions, so as to either remove criminality, or to restrict the punishment to only fine, or to allow rectification of defaults through alternative methods, which would lead to de-clogging of the criminal justice system.

The main recommendations of the Committee are as follows:

Re-categorising 23 offences out of the 66 remaining compoundable offences under the Act, to be dealt with in the in-house adjudication framework wherein these defaults would be subject to a penalty levied by an adjudicating officer.

In addition, the quantum of penalties recommended are lower than the quantum of fines presently provided in the Act.

Retention of status-quo in case of the non-compoundable offences.

Proposing benches of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal;

Extending applicability of Section 446B (lower penalties for small companies and one person companies) to all provisions which attract monetary penalties and extending the benefit to producer companies and start-ups also;

Providing power to enhance the thresholds which trigger applicability of Corporate Social Responsibility provisions;

Providing for appeal against the orders of the Regional Directors before the NCLT after due examination;

Exempting certain private placement requirements for Qualified Institutional Placements (QIPs) after due consultation with SEBI.

SpaceX

In News:

SpaceX, the world’s leading private company in space technology, last week fired a spray of 60 satellites into orbit to eventually evolve into a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites aimed at providing low-cost and reliable space-based Internet services to the world.

Starlink network:

The Starlink network, as the project is called, is one of several ongoing efforts to start beaming data signals from space, and also the most ambitious.

SpaceX announced the satellite Internet constellation in January 2015, and launched two test satellites in February 2018. Following last week’s launch, the company has now deployed 122 satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The LEO extends up to 2,000 km above the Earth’s surface.

Starlink aims to start space-based Internet service in the northern United States and Canada in 2020, and expand to cover the whole world by 2021.

Other initiatives:

Several other private companies too, have plans for space-based Internet services.

These include Amazon, OneWeb and O3B (apparently named for the ‘Other Three Billion’), each involving large constellations of satellites in lower and middle Earth orbits.

But these projects are very small compared to Starlink.

Equal representation to all States in Rajya Sabha sought

In News:

On the occasion of its 250th session, Rajya Sabha MPs have made the following suggestions:

Details:

Giving all States, irrespective of their population and size, an equal number of seats in the Rajya Sabha.

All members, irrespective of their parties’ strength in the House, the same amount of time to speak in debates.

Need for Rajya Sabha:

The Upper House of the Indian Parliament traces its direct history to the first bicameral legislature introduced in British India in 1919 as a consequence of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms.

Unlike the US Senate which ensures equal representation for all federal units (each state having two representatives), India’s Rajya Sabha does have more members from populous states.

Even though Indian states are ‘mere administrative units’ which don’t enjoy a constitutionally-assured permanence, their continued existence over all these years and the constitutional separation of power has given them the nature of autonomous units in their own spheres. Therefore, the ‘state-wise’ identity cannot be ruled out completely.

India’s Rajya Sabha has equal powers to the Lok Sabha except for money bills, where it has no jurisdiction.

Is the Rajya Sabha essential?

The contemporary argument against it comes from two primary angles:

The first one suggests that a Lok Sabha that has representation from several regional parties more than adequately represents a federal country.

The second argument charges that the Rajya Sabha has become a haven for losers in elections, crony capitalists, compromised journalists and party fundraisers.

What can be done?

It is virtually impossible to abolish the Rajya Sabha without adopting a new Indian Constitution. The bicameral nature of the Indian Parliament is likely to be interpreted as a “basic structure” of the Indian Constitution, rendering it incapable of being amended. Even if this were to be tested, it would be ensnared in a judicial process for a very long time. It is much more practical to try and reform the Rajya Sabha than seeking to abolish it.

Gram Sabha

In News:

The Haryana Cabinet has taken an in-principle decision to bring an amendment in Section 31 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, allowing devolution of powers to the Gram Sabha to ban liquor within the local area of a Gram Panchayat.

Details:

The quorum of the Gram Sabha meeting for passing such a resolution shall be one-tenth of its members.

About Gram Sabha:

The term Gram Sabha is defined in the Constitution of India under Article 243(b).

Gram Sabha is the primary body of the Panchayati Raj system and by far the largest.

It is a permanent body.

The power to annul a decision of the Gram Sabha rests with the Gram Sabha only.

Composition:

Persons, those who are above 18 years of age.

Living in the village.

Whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level.

Powers and functions:

Constitution mentions that Gram Sabha exercises such powers and performs such functions at the village level as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide.

Functions of Gram Sabha:

To help implementation of the development programmes and schemes of the Panchayat.

To identify beneficiaries for different programmes and schemes. However, if the Gram Sabha fails to identify such beneficiaries within a reasonable time, the Gram Panchayat shall identify the beneficiaries.

To solicit support — in cash or kind or both and voluntary labour — from the public for community welfare programmes.

To support the programmes of mass education and family welfare.

To promote unity and harmony among all sections of the society in the village.

To seek clarification from the Mukhiya, Up-Mukhiya and other members of the Gram Panchayat about any particular activity, scheme, income and expenditure.

To discuss and recommend appropriate action with regard to reports of the Vigilance Committee.

Other related matters brought to the notice of the Gram Sabha.

To consider levy of taxes, rates, rents & fees & enhancement of rates thereof.

To consider all such matters as may be referred by the Gram Panchayat for its decision.

IMD World Talent Ranking- 2019

In News:

The 2019 World Talent Ranking has been released.

Details:

It is released by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD). IMD is a business education school based in Switzerland.

The ranking is based on the performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal and readiness.

Performance of countries:

The top of the table is still led by European small and mid-size economies. These countries all share high levels of investments in education and a superior quality of life.

Switzerland in the first and Denmark in the second position firmly lead the ranking for the seventh year in a row, followed by Sweden, Austria and Luxembourg.

Performance of India:

India has slipped 6 places to 59 rank.

This is due to low quality of life and expenditure on education.

India is also lagging behind fellow BRICs countries – China ranked 42nd on the list, Russia (47th) and South Africa (50th).

India also witnessed one of the sharpest declines among Asian economies owing to low quality of life, negative impact of brain drain, and the low priority of its economy on attracting and retaining talents.

The drop is a combination of several factors including expenditure on education (per student) and the quality of education which may be linked to the GDP growth.

There are other issues such as the effectiveness of the health system and women’s participation in the labour force.

 

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