Current affair of 1st August, 2019

1. One nation one ration card scheme implemented in four States

In order to boost the National Food Security, pilot basis of One Nation One Ration Card scheme was launched by the government in four states namely Telangana , Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Families holding this card can buy subsidized rice and wheat from any ration shop in these four states.

Key highlights:
  1. It is expected to be implemented by August next year.
  2. A trial run of the project was conducted by the Telangana Civil Supplies Corporation last week where consumers from Andhra Pradesh bought their commodities from the fair price shop in Hyderabad.
  3. White ration card holders in Telangana can buy the subsidized rice and wheat from any fair price shops in the state and this same facility is available in Andhra Pradesh also through POS (Point Of Sale) machines.
  4. 28 Crore customers have been benefited with this ration portability introduced in Telangana last year.
  5. 56 lakh beneficiaries are covered under the National Food Security Act.
To Avail the scheme:

The family’s ration card should be linked with their Aadhaar Number.

2. Parliament passed the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019

It has unanimously passed the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019, which seeks to put in place a mechanism by which poor depositors will get back their hard-earned money. The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019 replaced the Ordinance on the same.

Aim: The main aim of the bill seeks to help tackle the menace of illicit deposit taking activities in the country, which at present are exploiting regulatory gaps and lack of strict administrative measures to dupe poor and gullible people of their hard earned money, according to the government................Read more

3. Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 passed by Rajya Sabha

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has been passed by the Rajya Sabha.

Key highlights: 

Compensation for road accident victims: The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour. The central government may also make a scheme for providing interim relief to claimants seeking compensation under third party insurance............................Read more

4. Parliament passed Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Parliament passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) (Amendment) Bill, 2019. It provides a 330-day timeline for insolvency resolution process and specifies minimum payouts to operational creditors in any resolution plan. The amendments will bring greater clarity to mergers, demergers, and amalgamations as part of the resolution process.

Key highlights:
  1. Earlier, the timeline was 270 days. It provides greater clarity on permissibility of corporate restructuring schemes, clarity on the rights and duties of authorized representatives of voters. 
  2. It gives committee of creditors of a loan defaulting company an explicit authority over the distribution of proceeds in the resolution process.
  3. It will be binding on the Centre, State and local authorities.
  4. IBC 2016 says that National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) must determine the existence of default within 14 days of receiving a resolution application and may accept or reject it and the new Bill states that the NCLT must record its reasons in writing if it has not passed an order within 14 days.
  5. It will be binding on the Centre, State and local authorities.
  6. The number of members of NCLT was increased and the strength at present is 52.
  7. The Bill specifies the manner in which the representative of a group of financial creditors should vote.
5. Air Force specification-cum-publicity Pavilion inaugurated by Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank”

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development (MHRD) Mr Ramesh pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, inaugurated the Indian Airforce Facilitation-cum-Publicity Pavilion in National Bal Bhawan, New Delhi.  The setup comprises of a flying simulator, a self-interactive career information kiosk( a counter, newsstand etc), a selfie point in G suite( cloud computing, collaboration and productivity tool) and  mannequins. The pavilion has running videos related to IAF exercise/ operations, aircraft models of Indian Air Force, digital flexes etc.

“Indian Air Force: Cut Above” official Mobile gaming application was launched by Air Chief Marshal Shri B.S. Dhanoa. The app features facilities like experiencing first hand roles of IAF air warrior and also to apply and appear for recruitment from mobile phone itself.

6. Clean air initiative launched by India,UK in Bengaluru

A two year UK-India joint initiative , the “Innovation  for Clean Air” (IfCA) was launched by the British Deputy High Commissioner DominicMcAllister in Bengaluru to test interventions related to equality and supportIndia’s transition to EV (electric vehicles) integration.

Key highlights:
  1. The air quality is measured by integrating satellite and sensor data. 
  2. The program is led by Innovate UK, which is a part of UK research and innovation (UKRI). The UKRI is funded by Newton Fund and by various other partners.
Partners of the program:

Main partners: Indian Institute of Science(IISc),
Enzen, project lithium, C40 (Bengaluru and London are founding partners of C40)cities and Clean Air platform.
Other partners:  Indian Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT-B), shakthi foundation, India smart grid forum.

7. India is the 46th highest risk country in the world: Water Stress Index

According to the Water Stress Index, formulated by London-based risk analytics firm Verisk Maplecroft, India is the 46th highest risk country in the world. It measured the water consumption rates of households, industries and farm sectors and the available resources in rivers, lakes and streams and plotted the index with projected population growth trends to rank the cities facing the biggest threat to their water resources. Chennai is the “tip of the iceberg” for India’s water stressed cities.

Key highlights:
  1. 11 out of India’s 20 largest cities face an ‘extreme risk’ of water stress and 7 are in the ‘high risk’ category. Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nashik, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Indore are among the cities facing ‘extreme risk’. Bengaluru and Surat are experiencing the greatest surge in demand for water and are most at risk of facing scarcity. Chennai and Delhi are also extremely vulnerable.
  2. India is rated ‘high risk’ in the Climate Change Vulnerability Index. The effects of climate change like an ‘extended dry season’ would deteriorate water stress situation in Indian cities and many Indian cities are projected to experience a higher number of consecutive drought days when precipitation is less than 1 mm.
  3. Bengaluru may experience 5% hike in consecutive drought by 2060, relative to the period from 1981-2005.
8. Maharashtra Govt launches Automated Multi-modal Biometric Identification System (AMBIS) for crime detection

Maharashtra Chief Minister(CM) Devendra Fadnavis has launched a special digitized policing system called “Automated Multi-modal Biometric Identification System (AMBIS)” to aid police investigations & it will soon be expanded across the country.

Key Highlights:

Detection:  AMBIS adopted by the Maharashtra Police, is an advanced crime detection database, detects crime based on the available fingerprint, palmprint and iris scan data of criminals on record as well as accidental finger/ palm-prints collected from crime scenes.

AMBIS: It is an updated version of Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which has limited utility, providing only one-to-one fingerprint matches has been used by Indian law enforcement agencies to explore finger and palm prints.

Service:  The system is said to be first-of-its-kind in the country and the state has helped to crack 85 open cases of theft and break-ins and make 120 arrests during its one year testing period.

Features: 
  1. It can be useful in identifying bodies, especially in cases where the body is mutilated.
  2. Facial recognition of suspects in cases of mob violence and mob lynching with the help of photographs and CCTV footage.
  3. It has a backup facility option, so there will be no data loss by using this system.
  4. Data can be accessed anywhere, anytime as it can be interfaced with any other operating system(OS).
9. Sri Lankan government exempted visa fees for Indian tourists

The tourism minister of Sri Lanka, John Amaratunga announced that Indian tourists are exempted from visa fees which range from $20 to $40 with effect from August 1, 2019. It will not be charged for grant of one month visa for tourism.

Key highlights:
  1. Initially, it will be implemented for 6 months. Decision for extension will be taken depending upon its impact on revenue.
  2. In 2018, Tourism accounted for almost 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Sri Lanka. It is the country’s third largest and fastest growing source of foreign currency.
  3. With this, India became one among the 48 countries to be exempted from visa fees for tourism by Sri Lankan government.
10. RBI permits domestic banks to directly sell their NPAs overseas as part of  one-time settlement

India’s central banking institution, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opened a new route to allow domestic banks directly sell their non-performing assets (NPA) in manufacturing and infrastructure sectors to investors abroad as part of the one-time settlement (OTS) on behalf of the borrowing company. It will allow overseas investors to take direct loan exposure to Indian corporates.

Key highlights:

ECB For defaulters:  The loan defaulters are allowed to sell their assets in compliance with the OTS exercise, in order to raise external commercial borrowing (ECB) from overseas to repay domestic loans in the country.

ECB For corporates:  RBI also opened this route to Indian corporate as they can also raise long-term loans for working capital, general corporate purposes and repaying domestic rupee loans. They can avail of ECB facility for repayment of loans availed for capital expenditure in manufacturing and infrastructure sector and it is classified as SMA-2 (Special Mention Accounts with outstanding not serviced for 60 to 90 days).

ECB for Banks:  Lending banks too can sell off the loan assets through the assignment and recover their dues.

Benefits:  It will also reduce the pressure on the NCLT(National Company Law Tribunal) under IBC (Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code), as banks and the companies will now easily get into an OTS between themselves, funds for which have to be raised overseas by the defaulter/banks.

11. India Post Payments Bank will be converted into SFB: postal Department

The postal department has decided to convert the India Post Payments Bank(IPPB) into a small finance bank(SFB) with the aim to provide micro-credit at the doorsteps to individuals and SME’s(Small and medium-sized enterprises). The postal department also sets a target to open one crore accounts for IPPB in 100 days.

Key highlights:
  1. The decision was taken during the annual Heads of Circles Conference held at Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir(J&K) to adopt a 100-day action plan and a five-year vision to align the Department of Posts with the Prime Minister’s New India initiative.
  2. In Partnership with Common Service Centre(CSC), India post will provide a suite of citizen-centric services such as banking, remittance, insurance, DBT, bill and tax payments, etc at post offices.
  3. By investing in 190 parcel hubs, 80 Nodal Delivery Centers and a Pan India Road Transport Network, the postal department has also decided to enhance the infrastructure to extend the reach of the e-commerce industry to tier II(Population between 50,000 to 99,999) and tier III town(20,000 to 49,999) as well as to rural areas.

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