June 28 marks Sant Kabir’s 500th death anniversary and is celebrated as Kabir Jayanti across the country.
Sant Kabir Das was a very renowned saint, poet and social reformer of India who lived during the 15th century. His esteemed works and poems describe the greatness and oneness of the Supreme Being.
He did not believe in any religious discrimination and readily accepted all the religions. Sant Kabir Das propagated that there is the presence of same Supreme Being in all religions.
Sant Kabir Das was a highly acclaimed poet of his time. His writings significantly influenced the Bhakti movement. Some of his famous writings include ‘Sakhi Granth’, ‘Anurag Sagar’, ‘Bijak’ and ‘Kabir Granthawali’.
A religious community known as ‘Kabir Panth’ was founded by him and the members of this forum are referred as ‘Kabir Panthis’, implying the followers of Kabir Das. He was admired by individual of all faiths and his teachings are still alive and passed from generations.
Swami Ramananda influence: Kabir Das’ ideologies were greatly influenced by Vaishnava saint Swami Ramananda who accepted Kabir as his disciple.
The UP Tourism department has initiated to promote Maghar as a tourist destination where Hindus have built a temple in memory of Kabir, while Muslims have constructed a mausoleum in his memory.
Source: The Hindu
Global realty transparency index
Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL) has released the Global Real Estate Transparency Index 2018.
About the index:
The 2018 Global Real Estate Transparency Index covers 100 markets and is based on 186 indicators.
These variables are divided into six areas –performance measurement, market fundamentals, governance of listed vehicles, regulatory & legal frameworks, transaction process and environmental sustainability.
The Index scores markets on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1.00 being the highest possible score). Depending on their overall performance, markets are assigned to one of five transparency tiers.
Performance of various countries:
Way ahead for India:
India is one of the 10 countries that have registered maximum improvement in transparency in real estate over the last two years. Since 2014, India has moved up by five spots from 40th in the global real estate transparency index.
However, India has moved up just one spot despite the implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation And Development) Act or RERA. RERA was implemented in May 2016 to bring accountability and transparency into the sector. However, unlike a few states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka, several states have been slow in its implementation.
India is thus yet to figure among the transparent markets, despite the regulatory changes and the possibility of a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) listing.
Source: The Hindu
Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
In a blow to Pakistan, the Financial Action Task Force has placed it on the ‘grey list’ for failing to curb anti-terror financing. The decision was taken at the global financial watchdog Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) plenary session held recently in Paris.
The placement on the ‘grey list’ could hurt Pakistan’s economy as well as its international standing.
Developments so far:
The process began in February 2018 when FATF approved the nomination of Pakistan for monitoring under its International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) commonly known as ‘grey List’.
Pakistan was asked to prepare a plan to address international body’s concerns and get its approval or it could risk being moved to the black list.
It presented a 26-point plan of action to the FATF planery with the commitment to implement it over a period of 15 months to address the concerns of the global community.
The endorsement of the plan means that FATF formally placed Pakistan on the list. In case it had rejected the plan, Pakistan would have been on FATF’s Public Statement, also called as the black list.
Efforts by Pakistan:
On June 20, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan issued Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations 2018, in compliance with FATF recommendations.
On June 8, the National Security Committee (NSC) reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with the FATF.
By January next year, Pakistan will publish updated lists of persons and entities proscribed under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the UN-designated entities.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7. It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally. In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.
Facts for Prelims:
Pakistan remained on the FATF grey list from 2012 to 2015.
Source: The Hindu
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
A total of 20 countries, including India, announced contributions to the 2018 budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees. India has pledged USD 5 million. The contributions are to help bolster “severe funding crisis” following US’ cut in its annual aid to UNRWA.
UNRWA has been providing health, education, relief and social services, as well as emergency humanitarian assistance, to some 5.3 million Palestinian refugees across its five fields of operation — Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — for 65 years.
However, in January, the agency’s financial situation became catastrophic due to the sudden loss of USD 300 million in voluntary contributions. The Trump administration in January US said it would withhold USD 65 million of USD 125 million it had planned to send to UNRWA.
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950.
In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA’s mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2020.
UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR.
Funding: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States. UNRWA also receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used mostly for international staffing costs.
The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.
Source: The Hindu
Ban on Oxytocin
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has restricted the manufacture of Oxytocin formulations for domestic use to public sector only. Coupled with this, it has also banned the import of Oxytocin and its formulations. The order comes into effect from July 1.
Only Karnataka Antibiotics & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (KAPL), a public sector company, will manufacture this drug for domestic use. It will supply the drug to registered hospitals and clinics in public and private sector directly.
Why a ban on oxytocin?
The drug is misused in the dairy industry where livestock is injected with Oxytocin to make them release milk at a time convenient to farmers.
Oxytocin is also used to increase the size of vegetables such as pumpkins, watermelons, eggplants, gourds, and cucumbers.
Oxytocin has also been dubbed the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behaviour, including its role in love and in female reproductive biological functions in reproduction.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain, in the hypothalamus. It is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.
It acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter.
The release of oxytocin by the pituitary gland acts to regulate two female reproductive functions: Childbirth and Breast-feeding.
Facts for Prelims:
Carbetocin: The World Health Organization (WHO) has come up with a safe and effective alternative to the controversial drug oxytocin.
While Oxytocin, must be stored and transported at 2–8 degrees Celsius, and becomes less effective when exposed to heat, Carbetocin does not require refrigeration and retains its efficacy for at least three years even if it is stored at 30 degrees Celsius, and in 75% relative humidity.
Source: The Hindu
ISRO is planning to mine Moon
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s second moon mission — the Rs 800 crore ‘Chandrayaan-2’ —will hunt for deposits of Helium-3 — a waste-free nuclear energy that could answer many of Earth’s energy problems.
Why Helium- 3?
The isotope of Helium, which is abundant on the moon, could theoretically meet global energy demands for three to five centuries.
This kind of energy is also expected to be worth trillions of dollars (one expert estimated Helium-3’s value at about five billion US dollars a ton).
There are approximately 1 million metric tons of Helium-3 embedded in the moon, although only about a quarter of that can realistically could brought to Earth.
Since the isotope is not radioactive, it could be used in fusion reactors for nuclear energy without dangerous nuclear by-products.
Concerns and challenges:
Even if ISRO finds helium-3 on the moon, there are obstacles that need to be addressed before it can be utilised. The space agency will have to figure out how it will mine and bring back the isotope to Earth. Building fusion power plants to convert this resource into energy is another issue that has to be looked at. Additionally, there is no international treaty on commercial entities allowed to keep what they have mined from space, said the report. Only the US and Luxembourg have passed legislations to this effect.
He-3 fusion is untested technology. Considering prevailing commitments like the Paris Agreement, it would simply be foolish for India to attempt stewarding a nuclear fusion programme involving heavier isotopes when a prototype hydrogen fusion experiment (ITER) itself has sucked in over Rs 96,550 crore (about 9% of which India contributes) while another billion-dollar facility in the US has been struggling to kickstart fusion chain reactions for over four years now.
Chandrayaan-2 includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface. It is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover configuration.
The Orbiter spacecraft when launched from Sriharikota will travel to the Moon and release the Lander, which will in turn deploy a tiny Rover to roam the lunar surface — all three sending data and pictures to Earth.
It is planned to be launched as a composite stack into the earth parking orbit (EPO) of 170 X 18,500 km by GSLV-Mk II.
Source: The Hindu
Police medals for special operations
Union Home Ministry has instituted ‘Home Minister’s Special Operation Medals’ to honour officers of state police, central paramilitary forces and other security organisations engaged in special operations.
The three medals are — Antarik Suraksha Medal, Asadharan Aashuchan Padak and Utkrisht & Ati-Utkrisht Seva Medal.
While the Home Minister’s Special Operation Medal and Asadharan Aashuchan Padak will be awarded on August 15, Antarik Suraksha Medal and Utkrisht & Ati-Utkrisht Seva Medal will be announced on Republic Day.
Convention on Biodiversity