Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (13th to 19th December, 2018)

ISRO successfully puts GSAT-7A into orbit

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (13th to 19th December, 2018)

 

Topic: BHASHA SANGAM Program to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian Languages

Topic in Syllabus: Art and Culture

 

Bhasha Sangam

Why in news?

The Department of School Education & Literacy has initiated Bhasha Sangam a Celebration of Linguistic Diversity which marks the appreciation of the unique symphony of languages of our country, from 20th November to 21st December, 2018.

 

More about on news:

  • In order to celebrate the diversity of Indian culture, the unique features of our country, the Bhasha Sangam initiative under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat ushers schools and educational institutions to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian languages listed under Schedule 8 of the Constitution of India.
  • In order to celebrate the unique characteristic of our country, Bhasha Sangam provides an opportunity to schools and educational institution (BIETS, DIETs, CTEs/IASEs, SCERTs, SIEs, School Boards, Directorates of School Education, etc.) to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian Languages.
  • The objective is to familiarize every child with simple dialogues in all the 22 languages under Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India, taking up one language on each working day, to enhance linguistic tolerance and promote national integration.

 

Bhasha Sangam Programme:

  • The Bhasha Sangam is an initiative under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ which aims to make the students aware about the unique cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity of our country.
  • In order to celebrate the unique characteristic of our country, Bhasha Sangam provides an opportunity to schools and educational institution to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian Languages.
  • The objective is to familiarize every child with simple dialogues in all the 22 languages under Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India.
  • They will be taking up one language on each working day, to enhance linguistic tolerance and promote national integration.
  • The initiative has been widely received and accepted by States and UTs in very positive manner and schools are introducing five simple and commonly used sentences as per the convenience of students.

 

Objectives of Bhasha Sangam

  • To introduce school students to all the 22 Indian Languages of Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India.
  • To enhance linguistic tolerance and respect, and promote national integration.

 

Provisions:

  • Section 29(2)(F) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 states that “medium of instruction shall, as far as practicable, be in child’s mother tongue”.
  • The National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 emphasizes the importance of imparting primary education in the mother tongue of the child. Since education is in the Concurrent List, States have the liberty to decide the medium of instruction in schools.
  • The NCF also states that the ‘Three Language Formula’ is an attempt to address the challenges and opportunities of the linguistic situation in India.
  • As per the ‘Three Language Formula’ the first language to be studied, must be the mother tongue or the regional language.
  • In non-Hindi – speaking States, children learn Hindi. In the case of Hindi speaking States, children learn a language not spoken in their area.
  • Sanskrit may also be studied as a modern Indian language in addition to these languages.

 

Sample Question:

BHASHA SANGAM has been initiated by

a. Ministry of Culture

b. Ministry for Culture and Heritage

c. The Department of School Education & Literacy

d. Ministry of Human Resource Development

Answer: d)

 


 

Topic: Ujjwala Yojana: Govt now extends LPG scheme to all poor households

Topic in Syllabus: Schemes and Programmes

Ujjwala YojanaWhy in news?

The government on recently extended Ujjwala Yojana of providing free cooking gas (LPG) connections to all poor households.

 

More about on news:

  • The scheme, launched in 2016, originally targeted giving LPG connections to mostly rural women members of below the poverty line (BPL) households. The list was later expanded to include all SC/ST households and forest dwellers among others.
  • The scheme is now being extended to all poor households.
  • The Minster said that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved expanding the scope of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to cover poor families not having LPG connections and not covered under the existing beneficiary categories.
  • The step will further increase penetration of LPG to 100 per cent households, he said.
  • Under the scheme, the government provides a subsidy of Rs 1,600 to state-owned fuel retailers for every free LPG gas connection that they give to poor households.
  • This subsidy is intended to cover the security fee for the cylinder and the fitting charges.
  • The beneficiary has to buy her own cooking stove. To reduce the burden, the scheme allows beneficiaries to pay for the stove and the first refill in monthly instalments.
  • However, the cost of all subsequent refills has to be borne by the beneficiary household.

 

Beneficiaries so far:

  • The PMUY was launched on May 1, 2016, to provide 5 crores free LPG connections in three years.
  • The target was expanded to 8 crores in five years.
  • So far, 5.86 crore LPG connections have been released, adding that 48 per cent of the beneficiaries are SC/STs.
  • LPG coverage presently extends to close to 90 per cent of the population and the expansion will help take the coverage to all households.
  • While previously the connections were given based on the 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), the list was later expanded to include providing free cooking gas connection to all SC/ST households, forest dwellers, most backward classes, inhabitants of islands, nomadic tribes, tea estates and beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Antyodaya Yojana. Now, it has been extended to all poor.

 

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
  • It was launched in May 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna

 

Aims:

  • To replace unclean cooking fuels used in the most underprivileged households with clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas)
  • Families below the poverty line are to be provided with LPG connections with a support of Rs. 1,600 per connection.
  • Oil Marketing Companies would provide an option for the new consumer to opt for loan to cover the cost of a cooking stove and first refill.
  • The LPG connections will be issued in the name of the women of the households.

 

Target:

  • Initially the target was installation of 5 crore new LPG connections by 2019
  • Target revised to 8 crore- to be achieved by 2019-20.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to Pradhan Mantri UJJWALA Yojana, consider the following statements

  1. Aims to reduce health hazards of indoor pollution by providing free LPG connections to Women from BPL Households
  2. The scheme provides free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs. 1600/- per connection to an adult woman member of BPL family identified through Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.
  3. The scheme is now being extended to all poor households.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 and 3 only

b). 1 only

c). 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: d) all of the above

 


 

Topic: Navy to helm centre on maritime security

Topic in Syllabus: Security Issues

Navy to helm centre on maritime security

 

Why in news?

The Navy will formally inaugurate the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) later this week.

 

More about on news:

  • The virtual launch of the IFC-IOR centre is a beginning of a new era wherein collaborative, inclusive and high tech approach would be adopted to detect and deter maritime security threats of the region.
  • It will enable Indian Navy to interact with various multinational constructs and international and national agencies for information on White Shipping.

 

Information Fusion Centre (IFC)

  • The IFC has been established at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram.
  • Which is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
  • All countries that have already signed white shipping information exchange agreements with us, about 21 of them, are IFC partner
  • With the launch of the IFC, they now have the option of positioning liaison officers at the IFC for which we need to build up requisite infrastructure too. So we now start with their ‘virtual presenc
  • Information exchange at the Centre would be initially undertaken by virtual means, telephone calls, faxes, e-mails and video conferencing.
  • Subsequently, to enable better interconnection, quicker analysis of information and timely inputs, the IFC-IOR would host liaison officers from foreign countries.

 

Significance:

  • Through this Centre, information on “white shipping”, or commercial shipping, will be exchanged with countries in the region to improve maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean.
  • The Centre would undertake conduct of exercises and training capsules in maritime information collection and sharing.
  • Establishment of the IFR-IRO would ensure that the entire region is benefited by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.

 

Maritime network

  • In a related development, India has signed the ascension agreement to the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN) which facilitates information exchange on the movement of commercial traffic on the high seas.
  • The multilateral construct comprises of 30 countries and is steered by Italy.
  • Commodore K.M. Ramakrishnan signed the agreement on behalf of the Indian Navy at the Italian Naval Headquarters in Rome.

 

Automatic Identification System (AIS)

  • The information is available primarily through the Automatic Identification System (AIS) fitted on merchant ships with more than 300 gross registered tonnage as mandated by the International Maritime Organisation.
  • The AIS information comprises name, MMSI number, position, course, speed, last port visited, destination and so on.
  • This information can be picked up through various AIS sensors including coastal AIS chains and satellite based receivers.
  • The Indian Navy is mandated to conclude white shipping information exchange agreements with 36 countries and three multi-national constructs.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings easements are correct with respect to Information Fusion Centre (IFC)

  1. It will enable Indian Navy to interact with various multinational constructs and international and national agencies for information on White Shipping.
  2. it is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline
  3. The Centre would undertake conduct of exercises and training capsules in maritime information collection and sharing.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: d) all of the above

 


 

Topic: Boost for Air Force as ISRO successfully puts GSAT-7A into orbit

Topic in Syllabus: Science and Technology

ISRO successfully puts GSAT-7A into orbit

 

Why in news?

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday said its geosynchronous launch vehicle successfully placed the country’s latest advanced satellite into orbit.

 

More about on news:

  • The GSLV-F11, carrying the GSAT-7A, lifted off at 4.10 pm from the second launch pad at Sriharikota, situated about 110 km from Chennai.
  • Weighing 2,250kg, the GSAT-7A satellite is expected to bolster the communication systems of the Indian Air Force.
  • The mission life of the GSAT-7A is eight years.
  • It will provide communication in Ku-band over the Indian region.
  • Nearly 19 minutes after lift-off, the GSLV-F11 injected GSAT-7A into the intended orbit. It will be placed in its final geostationary orbit using the onboard propulsion systems.
  • According to the ISRO, the satellite would take a few days after separation from the launcher to reach its orbital slot.

 

GSAT-7A:

  • GSAT-7A would be placed in the geostationary orbit and this communication satellite is expected to help the IAF to interlink different ground radar stations, airbases and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft.
  • The idea is to improve the IAF’s network-centric warfare capabilities.
  • The total cost of the GSAT-7A is estimated to be in the region of Rs 500 to Rs 800 crore and it is rated for a eight lifetime.
  • The satellite will weigh 2.2 tonnes and will be launched by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk II) rocket.
  • The satellite will be placed in the geostationary orbit and this communication satellite is expected to help the IAF interlink different ground radar stations, airbases and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft.
  • GSAT-7A is the 35th Indian Communication satellite built by Isro.
  • The GSAT-7A spacecraft is configured on Isro’s standard I-2,000 Kg (I-2K) bus.
  • The satellite is built to provide communication capability to the users in Ku-band over the Indian region.
  • Total cost of the GSAT-7A is estimated to be in the region of Rs 6-8 billion and its life is estimated to be around nine years, according to Isro sources.

 

GSLV-F11 successfully launches GSAT-7A into GTO

 

What is the need to launch a dedicated satellite for IAF?

  • All Indian communication satellites offer capacity to the armed forces, GSAT-7A will be the first one built primarily for the IAF.
  • It qualitatively unify its assets and improve combined, common intelligence during operations.
  • About 70% of it would be for the Air Force and the rest for the needs of the Army.
  • The ground force’s Army Aviation Corps operates many helicopters, uses UAVs and will acquire fixed wing aircraft in future — all for surveillance and rescue missions.
  • The satellite using Ku band will enable superior real time aircraft-to-aircraft communication; and between planes that are in flight and their commanders on the ground.
  • It would enhance by many times the coverage now provided by ground communication systems such as radars and stations of the Army.
  • Out-of-sight and remote areas where ground infrastructure and signals are difficult would get into the critical information loop.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to recently launched GSAT-7A

  1. GSAT-7A is the 35th Indian Communication satellite built by Isro.
  2. The mission life of the GSAT-7A is nine years.
  3. The satellite is built to provide communication capability to the users in Ku-band over the Indian region.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 3 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: c) 1 and 3 only

 


 

Topic: Centre drafts child protection policy

Topic in Syllabus: Social Issues

Centre drafts child protection policy

 

Why in news?

The Centre on recently released a draft of a new national child protection policy, which includes a declaration signed by all employees of institutions, agreeing to ensure the safety of children.

 

More about on news:

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has placed the draft policy on its website and invited comments from stakeholders until January 4.
  • This will be the first policy dedicated to the protection of children, an area that until now was only a part of the broader National Child Policy, 2013.
  • A code of conduct for employees of all organisations and a declaration signed by them agreeing to ensure the safety of children are some of the provisions included in the Centre’s draft national child protection policy, prepared on the prodding of the Supreme Court in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter abuse case.

 

Background:

  • The Supreme Court had earlier directed the CBI to investigate allegations involving 17 shelter homes for children, destitute women, beggars and senior citizens in Bihar following the case of sexual abuse of more than 30 girls in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur in the State.
  • The apex court had also asked the Centre to consider framing a national policy on protection of children.

 

Draft child protection policy

  • As per the draft, the policy will apply to all institutions, and organizations (including corporate and media houses), government or private sector.
  • The draft policy recommends that all organizations must have a code of conduct based on “zero tolerance of child abuse and exploitation”.
  • It requires organizations to lay down that employees don’t use language or behaviour that is “inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate”.
  • Institutions should also designate a staff member to ensure that procedures are in place to ensure the protection of children as well as to report any abuse.
  • Any individual who suspects physical, sexual or emotional abuse must report it to the helpline number 1098, police or a child welfare committee.

 

Criticism about draft policy:

  • Unlike the National Child Policy, 2013, the latest document doesn’t talk about children who may need additional special protection measures:
  • It doesn’t including those affected by migration, communal or sectarian violence, children forced into begging or in conflict with the law, and those infected with HIV/AIDS.
  • It also doesn’t talk about the role of the state for ensuring the protection of child rights or addressing local grievances.
  • It doesn’t explain what is acceptable behaviour such as conduct of teachers in schools.

 

What needs to be done?

  • The document needs to define what child protection is as well as what it means by institutions or organisations
  • The norms should be designed in such a way that organisations can customise their policies according to the nature of their work, thereby, giving them a sense of ownership on safeguarding children’s rights.
  • document needs to go into all these aspects, especially a reporting structure involving various nodal bodies and a monitoring mechanism for implementation of the guidelines
  • That the government could use the opportunity to go beyond the role of institutions and look at the role of individuals.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to drafts child protection policy

  1. The policy will apply to only government institutions, and organizations.
  2. The draft policy recommends that all organizations must have a code of conduct based on “zero tolerance of child abuse and exploitation.
  3. It also talk about the role of the state for ensuring the protection of child rights or addressing local grievances.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below 

a). 1 and 3 only

b). 2 only

c). 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: b) 2 only

 


 

Topic: CAG Rajiv Mehrishi appointed as Vice-Chair of UN Panel of Auditors

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Polity

CAG Rajiv Mehrishi appointed as Vice-Chair of UN Panel of Auditors

 

Why in news?

Comptroller and Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi has become the Vice-Chair of the UN Panel of Auditors, CAG said.

 

More about on news:

  • The United Nations Panel of Auditors consists of External Auditors of the United Nations and its agencies.
  • Presently, the panel consists of 11 countries — India, Germany, Chile, Canada, France, Italy, Philippines, Ghana, Indonesia, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Currently, the panel is chaired by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the UK.
  • The panel held its annual meeting in New York from 3 to 4 December 2018 and discussed various issues concerning audit of United Nations and the agencies under the United Nations System.
  • The panel also elected the Comptroller and Auditor General of the UK as Chair of the Panel for another term (2019).
  • The panel also unanimously elected the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as the Vice Chair of the panel for the year 2019.

 

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by the Constitution of India under article 148.
  • CAG audits all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the state governments, including those of bodies and authorities substantially financed by the government.
  • The CAG is also the external auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies, i.e., any non-banking/ non-insurance company in which the state and Union governments have an equity share of at least 51% or subsidiary companies of existing government companies.
  • The reports of the CAG are taken into consideration by the Public Accounts Committees (PACs) and Committees on Public Undertakings (COPUs), which are special committees in the Parliament of India and the state legislatures.
  • The CAG enjoys the same status as a judge of Supreme Court of India in Indian order of precedence.
  • CAG is appointed by the President of India following a recommendation by the Prime Minister. On appointment, he/she has to make an oath or affirmation before the President of India.
  • The CAG can be removed only on an address from both house of parliament on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.The CAG vacates the office on attaining the age of 65 years age even without completing the 6 years term.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)

  1. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is an authority, established by the Constitution of India under article 148
  2. The CAG can be removed only on an address from both house of parliament on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity
  3. The CAG vacates the office on attaining the age of 60 years age even without completing the 5 years term.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 2 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: b) 1 and 2 only

 


 

Topic: NPS withdrawal made tax-free like PPF, EPF

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy

NPS withdrawal made tax-free

 

Why in news?

The Cabinet has approved changes to National Pension Scheme or NPS which will make the pension plan at par with other schemes like PPF and EPF.

 

More about on news:

  • The government granted NPS exempt, exempt and exempt or EEE status, which means that like PPF (public provident fund) or EPF (employee provident fund) investment at the investment stage, accumulation and withdrawal stage will be tax free.
  • NPS only enjoyed exempt, exempt and taxable or EET status, meaning that on withdrawal NPS was partially taxable.
  • These changes were approved by the Cabinet in its December 6 meeting but their announcement was delayed due to state elections.

 

About New NPS rules:

  • NPS on withdrawal will be totally tax exempt. Currently, 40% of the total accumulated corpus utilized for purchase of annuity at retirement or reaching the age of 60 is already tax exempted.
  • Out of 60% of the accumulated corpus withdrawn by the NPS subscriber at the time of retirement, 40% is tax exempt and balance 20% is taxable. Now, the whole 60% of the accumulated corpus will be tax free, bringing it on a par with other investment schemes like PPF and EPF.
  • This changes in tax rules on NPS withdrawal will apply to all subscribers, including government employees.
  • In another tax benefit for NPS subscribers, contribution under Tier-II of NPS will now be covered under Section 80C for deduction up to Rs. 1.50 lakh for the purpose of income tax benefits, provided there is a lock-in period of three years.
  • In another rule change, the government has decided to increase its contribution to the NPS for central government employees to 14% of their basic pay as compared to 10% earlier.
  • The government will bear an additional annual recurring expenditure of Rs 2,840 crore due to its higher contribution. The central government employee’s contribution will remain changed at 10% of the basic pay
  • Currently, new entrants to central government service on or after 1 January 2004 are covered by NPS.
  • The government also said that the central government will get more investment options (both debt and equity) and choice of pension fund managers.

 

National Pension System (NPS):

  • The NPS is the umbrella old age social security mechanism for providing pension to the citizens.
  • It was launched on 1st January, 2004 with the objective of providing retirement income to all the citizens.
  • A remarkable feature of the NPS is that it provides pension to the employees of the formal sector (central and state government and other organized sector employees) and also to unorganised sector workforce.
  • For the organized sector, NPS scheme is designed with tax concessions to encourage participation.
  • Central Government Employees, State Government Employees, as well as all citizens between the ages of 18 to 60 can join the NPS.
  • PFRDA is the autonomous body set up by the Government of India to develop and regulate the pension market in India including the administration of the NPS.

NPS in Short

 

Benefits of NPS:

Some of the benefits of the National Pension System (NPS) are:

  • It is transparent – NPS is transparent and cost effective system wherein the pension contributions are invested in the pension fund schemes and the employee will be able to know the value of the investment on day to day basis.
  • It is simple – All the subscriber has to do, is to open an account with his/her nodal office and get a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN).
  • It is portable – Each employee is identified by a unique number and has a separate PRAN which is portable i.e., will remain same even if an employee gets transferred to any other office.
  • It is regulated – NPS is regulated by PFRDA, with transparent investment norms & regular monitoring and performance review of fund managers by NPS Trust.

 

Sample Question:

Consider the followings with respect to National Pension System (NPS)

  1. The scheme allows subscribers to contribute regularly in a pension account during their working life
  2. Any Indian citizen between 20 – 60 years can join NPS.
  3. The only condition is that the person must comply with know your customer (KYC) norms.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: c) 1 and 3 only