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November 22, 2019
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November 25, 2019
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23 November Current Affairs

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)

In News:

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has accorded ‘In-principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment in five public sector units (PSUs) as per the details below.

About:

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL): Government will sell its entire 53.29% stake in BPCL. However, BPCL’s 61.65% share in Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) will be retained and will be transferred to a public sector company operating in the oil and gas space.

Shipping Corporation of India Ltd. (SCI): The government will sell its entire 63.75% stake in the SCI and will cede management control.

Container Corporation of India Ltd. (CONCOR): Government will sell its 30.8% stake in the CONCOR and hand over management control.

Tehri Hydro Development Corporation India Limited (THDCIL): The government will sell its entire 74.23% stake in THDCIL to NTPC Ltd. and also cede control.

North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO): The government will sell its entire 100% stake in the NEEPCO to NTPC Ltd. and also cede control.

Pharmaceuticals Purchase Policy (PPP)

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension/renewal of Pharmaceuticals Purchase Policy (PPP) with the same terms and conditions while adding one additional product namely, Alcoholic Hand Disinfectant (AHD) to the existing list of 103 medicines till the final closure/strategic disinvestment of the pharmaceutical PSUs.

About:

Pharmaceuticals Purchase Policy (PPP) was approved by the Cabinet in 2013 for a period of five years in respect of 103 medicines manufactured by pharma CPSUs and their subsidiaries.

The policy is applicable to purchases by Central/ State Government departments and their Public Sector Undertakings etc.

The pricing of the products is done by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

The procuring entity can purchase from Pharma CPSUs and their subsidiaries subject to their meeting Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) norms as per Schedule ‘M’ of the Drugs & Cosmetic Rules.

Kalasa Banduri project

In News:

Union environment Minister was heckled by protesters for giving a go-ahead to Karnataka for the Kalasa Banduri project, which aims to provide drinking water to three north Karnataka districts by diverting water from the Mahadayi.

About:

The Mhadei (or Mahadayi/Mahadeyi) River is described as the lifeline of the Indian state of Goa.

It originates from a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in the Belgaum district of Karnataka. Then it enters Goa and finally drains in Arabian sea.

The Mandovi and the Zuari are the two primary rivers in the state of Goa.

Mandovi joins with the Zuari at a common point at Cabo Aguada, forming the Mormugao harbour.

The two rivers are linked by Cumbarjuem Canal.

Panaji, the state capital and Old Goa, the former capital of Goa, are both situated on the left bank of the Mandovi.

The river Mapusais a tributary of the Mandovi.

Three large freshwater isles — Divar, Chorao and Vashee are present in the Mandovi near the town of Old Goa. The island of Choraois home to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, named after the renowned ornithologist Salim Ali.

Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for adoption of Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) under the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks, India (CGPDTM) with patent offices of various other interest countries or regions.

About:

The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is a set of initiatives for providing accelerated patent prosecution procedures by sharing information between some patent offices.

The said programme will initially commence between Japan Patent Office (JPO) and Indian Patent Office on pilot basis for a period of three years only.

Under this Pilot programme, Indian Patent Office may receive patent applications in certain specified technical fields only, namely, Electrical, Electronics, Computer Science, Textiles, Automobiles and Metallurgy while JPO may receive applications in all fields of technology.

PPH programme would lead to the following benefits for the Indian IP office:

  • Reduction in time to dispose patent applications.
  • Reduction in pendency of patent applications.
  • Improvement in quality of search and examination of patent applications.

The ambit of the programme may be extended in future, as decided by the Commerce & Industry Minister. The patent offices will frame their own guidelines for implementation of the programme.

Himayat Mission

In News:

The Jammu and Kashmir administration is working on effective implementation of Himayat Mission. Under this, 42 projects have been sanctioned for training and placement target of 68,134 youths.

About:

Himayat is a placement linked skill training programme for unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir.

This initiative of Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India is being implemented by the Himayat Mission Management Unit, J&K State Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKSRLM), Govt of J&K within the state.

Himayat is under implementation in the State since 2011. The Programme was recommended by Dr. C. Rangarajan Committee report which was submitted to the Prime Minister in 2011.

Under it, Youth are provided free skill training training for a duration of 3 to 12 months, in a range of skills for which there is good market demand. At the end of the training, the youth are assured of a job and there is one year post-placement tracking to see how they are faring.

Quid pro quo

In News:

As the proceedings to impeach President Donald Trump unfold in the United States Congress, the expression “quid pro quo” has been heard over and over — something that the President and his supporters have insisted cannot be established in his dealings with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, thus absolving him of blame.

About:

Quid pro quo is a Latin expression which means “something given or received for something else”.

In the 1500s in England, it was often used in the sense of apothecaries substituting one medicine for the other, by accident or design. It has also been part of trade lexicon as a term for the barter system.

In legal terminology, Quid pro quo is now used to imply a mutually beneficial deal between two parties. In political contexts, like the one involving Trump currently, it is often seen as an essential requirement to suggest or establish corruption, wrongdoing, or impropriety.

The expression is frequently used in India as well. Most recently, Rahul Gandhi alleged ahead of the Lok Sabha elections that rules were bent to get the offset contract of the Rafale jet deal for Anil Ambani — the BJP’s defence then was that the government had no say in the choice of offset partner, and no quid pro quo could thus be made out.

Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019

In News:

Lok Sabha passed the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

About:

The Bill seeks to amend the Chit Funds Act, 1982. The 1982 Act regulates chit funds, and prohibits a fund from being created without the prior sanction of the state government.

Names for a chit fund: The Act specifies various names which may be used to refer to a chit fund. These include chit, chit fund, and kuri. The Bill additionally inserts ‘fraternity fund’ and ‘rotating savings and credit institution’ to this list.

Substitution of terms: The amendment bill defines –

  • ‘gross chit amount’ as the sum of subscriptions payable by all the subscribers of a chit;
  • ‘share of discount’ as the share of the subscriber in the amount kept apart for running the chit; and
  • ‘net chit amount’ as the difference between chit amount and the amount kept apart for running the chit.

Presence of subscribers through video-conferencing: The Act specifies that a chit will be drawn in the presence of at least two subscribers. The Bill seeks to allow these subscribers to join via video-conferencing.

Foreman’s commission: Under the Act, the ‘foreman’ is responsible for managing the chit fund.

He is entitled to a maximum commission of 5% of the chit amount. The Bill seeks to increase the commission to 7%.

The Bill allows the foreman a right to lien against the credit balance from subscribers.

Aggregate amount of chits: The Bill increases the maximum amount of chit funds which may be collected to (i) 3 lakh rupees for chits conducted by individuals, and for every individual in a firm with less than four partners, and (ii) 18 lakh rupees for firms with four or more partners.

Application of the Act: Currently, the Act does not apply to any chit where the amount is less than Rs 100. The Bill removes the limit of Rs 100, and allows the state governments to specify the base amount over which the provisions of the Act will apply.

K12 Education Transformation Framework

In News:

Microsoft rolls out its K12 Education Transformation Framework more widely in India.

Key features of the framework:

The Framework provides a holistic framework to facilitate a comprehensive digital transformation of schools.

The framework is a flexible platform based on the latest research and input from hundreds of academics, experts, and policymakers.

It comprises four pillars — leadership and policy, modern teaching and learning, intelligent environments and technology blueprint.

Background:

Education leaders in more than 50 countries have already adopted the Microsoft K-12 Education Transformation Framework to help plan their learning strategies in partnership with Microsoft.

Arundhati Swarna Yojana

In News:

The Assam government has announced the launch of ‘Arundhati Swarna Yojana’.

Key features of the scheme:

Under the scheme, the state government will offer 10 grams of gold as a gift to every adult bride who has completed at least 10th standard and has registered her marriage.

Note: The government will not give the gold directly but Rs. 30,000 to purchase 10 gms of gold.

Eligibility:

The annual income of the bride’s family must be less than five lakh rupees to avail the scheme.

Minimum age should be 18 years and 21 years for the bride and bridegroom respectively.

The family has to register their marriage under the Special Marriage (Assam) Rules, 1954.

Minimum education should be 10th standard. However, minimum educational qualification criteria have been relaxed for the tribes and workers of tea gardens.

The eligible bride and bridegroom must apply for the scheme before the date of their wedding.

Prithvi-II missile

It is a surface-to-surface tactical missile with a strike range of 350 km.

It is India’s first missile indigenously developed by DRDO under prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP).

It is capable of carrying 500 to 1,000 kg of warheads, both conventional as well as nuclear.

The state-of-the-art missile is powered by liquid propulsion twin engines.

It uses an advanced inertial guidance system with maneuvering orbit to hit its target.

It was inducted into armour of the defence forces in 2003.

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