09th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha’ (GS2: Union Legislature)
Issue: NDA’s candidate, Harivansh Narayan Singh of the JD (U), was elected Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman on Wednesday after winning 125 votes in the House.
The position of Deputy Chairman is significant as s/he assumes charge in the absence of the Chairperson/Vice-President. It is also critical to ensure smooth running of the Rajya Sabha.
About the post of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
Rajya Sabha elects a Deputy Chairman to perform the functions of the Chairman in case of a vacancy in the office of the Chairman or when the Vice-President is acting as or discharging the functions of the President. He may be removed from office by a resolution of Rajya Sabha moved after fourteen days notice of the intention to move the resolution and passed by a majority of all the then members of the House.
As a Deputy Chairman, he is not a subordinate to Chairman but directly responsible to Rajya Sabha.
‘Ikea’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Ikea of Sweden opens its first Indian store in Hyderabad on Thursday; a ₹1,000-crore bet that affordable furniture and assisted assembly will draw buyers in the world’s fastest-growing economy
Ikea has also acquired land in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Gurugram and plans to open shop in Surat, Chennai and Ahmedabad.
According to Global Data, a data and insights solution provider, rising disposable incomes and improving living conditions of urbanites present vast opportunities in India. Against the backdrop, the company forecasts the Indian home sector to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9% during 2016-2021 and reach ₹4.979 trillion by 2021.
‘Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India’ (GS2: Regulatory Agency)
Issue: The life insurance industry collectively has ₹15,166.47 crore of unclaimed money that belongs to policyholders
New regulation by IRDAI
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) asked insurance companies to make provisions to reach out to the policyholders and pay them their dues, now the regulator itself is taking steps to make it easier for policyholders to claim their money.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is an autonomous, statutory body tasked with regulating and promoting the insurance and re-insurance industries in India. It was constituted by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999, an Act of Parliament passed by the Government of India. The agency’s headquarters are in Hyderabad, Telangana, where it moved from Delhi in 2001.
IRDAI is a 10-member body including the chairman, five full-time and four part-time members appointed by the government of India.
The functions of the IRDAI are defined in Section 14 of the IRDAI Act, 1991 and include:
- Issuing, renewing, modifying, withdrawing, suspending or cancelling registrations
- Protecting policyholder interests
- Specifying qualifications, the code of conduct and training for intermediaries and agents
- Specifying the code of conduct for surveyors and loss assessors
- Promoting efficiency
- Promoting and regulating professional organisations connected with the insurance and re-insurance industry
- Levying fees and other charges
- Inspecting and investigating insurers, intermediaries and other relevant organisations
- Regulating rates, advantages, terms and conditions which may be offered by insurers not covered by the Tariff Advisory Committee under section 64U of the Insurance Act, 1938 (4 of 1938)
- Specifying how books should be kept
- Regulating company investment of funds
- Regulating a margin of solvency
- Adjudicating disputes between insurers and intermediaries or insurance intermediaries
- Supervising the Tariff Advisory Committee
- Specifying the percentage of premium income to finance schemes for promoting and regulating professional organisations
- Specifying the percentage of life- and general-insurance business undertaken in the rural or social sector
- Specifying the form and the manner in which books of accounts shall be maintained, and statement of accounts shall be rendered by insurers and other insurer intermediaries.
Subhash Chandra Khuntia is the Chairman of IRDAI now
‘Rupee-Bond Prices’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Indian rupee and bond prices on Thursday gained after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced payment of Rs 50,000 crore dividend to government, helping the centre to stick its fiscal road map.
RBI on Wednesday approved in its board meeting that it will pay Rs 50000 crore dividend for July-June 2018 year, 63% higher than previous year to government. The surplus transfer has come at a time when the government showing an improvement in the June quarter with fiscal deficit working out 69% of the budgeted estimates from 80.8% in April June quarter of the preceding fiscal.
‘Niryat Mitra’ (GS2: E-Governance)
Issue: Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Aviation Suresh Prabhu launched Niryat Mitra – mobile App in New Delhi
About the app
The app developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is available both on Android and on IOS platforms. It provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from the policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures. The most interesting part is that all the information is available at tariff line.
‘Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve has become the 11th Biosphere Reserve from India that has been included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
The decision to include Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in WNBR was taken at the 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held at Palembang, Indonesia
About the biosphere reserve
Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Sikkim is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level. It includes a range of ecolines , varying from sub-tropic to Arctic, as well as natural forests in different biomes, that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.
The core area of the Biosphere Reserve is a major transboundary Wildlife Protected Area. The southern and central landscape, which makes up 86% of the core area, is situated in the Greater Himalayas. The northern part of the area accounts for 14% is characterized by trans-Himalayan features. Buffer zones are being developed to promote eco-tourism activities. Plantation and soil conservation work is also being carried out.
The core zone – Khangchendzonga National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 2016 under the ‘mixed’ category. Many of the mountains, peaks, lakes, caves, rocks, Stupas (shrines) and hot springs function as pilgrimage sites. Over 118 species of the large number of medicinal plants found in Dzongu Valley in north Sikkim are of ethno-medical utility. The transition zone is targeted for eco-development activities, afforestation, plantation of medicinal herbs and soil conservation measures.
What is MAB programme?
The MAB Programme develops the basis within the natural and social sciences for the rational and sustainable use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of the overall relationship between people and their environment. It predicts the consequences of today’s actions on tomorrow’s world and thereby increases people’s ability to efficiently manage natural resources for the well-being of both human populations and the environment.
By focusing on sites internationally recognized within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the MAB Programme strives to:
- identify and assess the changes in the biosphere resulting from human and natural activities and the effects of these changes on humans and the environment, in particular in the context of climate change;
- study and compare the dynamic interrelationships between natural/near-natural ecosystems and socio-economic processes, in particular in the context of accelerated loss of biological and cultural diversity with unexpected consequences that impact the ability of ecosystems to continue to provide services critical for human well-being;
- ensure basic human welfare and a liveable environment in the context of rapid urbanization and energy consumption as drivers of environmental change;
- Promote the exchange and transfer of knowledge on environmental problems and solutions, and to foster environmental education for sustainable development.
The main MAB governing body, the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, usually referred to as the MAB Council or ICC, consists of 34 Member States elected by UNESCO’s biennial General Conference.
The role of the MAB ICC is:
- to guide and supervise the MAB Programme;
- to review the progress made in the implementation of the Programme (cf. Secretariat report and reports of MAB National Committees);
- to recommend research projects to countries and to make proposals on the organization of regional or international cooperation;
- to assess priorities among projects and MAB activities in general;
- to co-ordinate the international cooperation of Member States participating in the MAB Programme;
- to co-ordinate activities with other international scientific programmes;
- to consult with international non-governmental organizations on scientific or technical questions
The MAB ICC also decides upon new biosphere reserves and takes note of recommendations on periodic review reports of biosphere reserves.
‘Fall Armyworm’ (GS3: Indian Agriculture)
Issue: The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) has sounded the alarm after the invasive agricultural pest Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) was discovered in Karnataka this July.
About the pest
A major maize pest in North America, the Fall Armyworm arrived in Africa in 2016. Since then, it has threatened the continent’s maize crop, a staple which feeds 300 million people.
Its discovery in Karnataka means its spread to the rest of the country, as well as neighboring countries, could be just a matter of time.
The first line of defence against the Fall Armyworm will be insecticides like lambda-cyhalothrin. Its efficacy is currently being studied in field trials. Also, the researchers have found some natural predators such as coccinellid beetles, that can aid biological control.
‘Oscars’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The Academy which runs the Oscars ceremony has added a new category to honor popular films and has promised a brisk three-hour ceremony and a much earlier air date in 2020.
The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are a set of 24 awards for artistic and technical merit in the American film industry, given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the “Academy Award of Merit”, which has become commonly known by its nickname “Oscar”. The sculpture was created by George Stanley. The awards, first presented in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, are overseen by AMPAS
‘Discovery of distant galaxy’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Radio galaxy has been named TGSS J1530+1049, and it was initially discovered using the Giant Meter-wave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India
By measuring the red-shift of its light, the researchers determined that the object is about 12 billion light-years away, which dates it back to when the universe itself was just a kid.
Logic used in the discovery
Light from an object that’s moving away from us will appear more red than it actually is, thanks to the Doppler effect. That’s because those light waves are stretched out as the universe expands, shifting the wavelengths towards the red end of the spectrum. Using that red-shift, scientists can calculate how far away, and therefore how old, that object is.
TGSS J1530+1049 has managed to topple an almost 20-year record holder – the previous most distant radio galaxy was TN J0924-2201. Discovered in 1999, at a red-shift of z = 5.19, it lies nearly 11 billion light-years away.