26 th Sep, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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India International Science Festival (GS3: Science & tech, prelims)
- The fourth edition of India International Science Festival (IISF) is going to be organised in Lucknow.
- It will be organised with its focal theme “Science for Transformation”.
- Ministry of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences in association with Vijnana Bharati is organising this festival since 2015.
- The first and second edition of IISF were held in New Delhi and the third in Chennai.
- World Record Attempts have been a key part of India International Science Festival since 2015.
- This year, a World Record attempt will be made to “isolate DNA” by 500 students from class 8th to 10th standard.
PSSA 2018: A step towards separating banking, payments (GS3: Economy, prelims: PSSA)
Amendments to PSSA
- The inter-ministerial committee set up to finalize the amendments to the Payment and Settlement Systems Act (PSSA), 2007, has submitted its report
- When PSSA was passed by Parliament in December 2007, it initiated the first phase of recognizing payments from banking or classic banking
Difference between classic banking and payments
- Classic banking is “accepting, for the purpose of lending and investment, of deposit of money from individuals or legal entities”
- Bank’s earnings would directly depend on how they are able to reduce cost of deposit through current account savings account and are able to lend at higher rates with a decision on security/risk taken for such lending
- Apart from the interest income, banks would impose different kinds of fees for providing loan products, as an additional revenue stream
- Payments, on the other hand, are the transfer of monetary value from a person/legal entity to another person/legal entity for either consideration towards goods and services rendered or just transfer of money
Recommendation of PSSA 2018 draft amendment
- It is a step towards separating banking and payments
- It recommends setting up a separate seven-member Payments Regulatory Board (PRB)
- It will be chaired by a person appointed by the government in consultation with Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
- There will be one deputy chairman nominated by the central board of RBI, two members appointed by the central board of RBI, one officer nominated by the government and two whole-time members
- The proposed Bill recognizes RBI’s role in the context of monetary policy in making regulations for existing or new payments systems/enhancements/amendments
- It also provides for test systems or regulatory sandbox for a period of six months for a legal entity to apply and launch the test system/innovation
Supreme Court asks Parliament to frame laws to bar those accused of crimes from (GS2: Polity, prelims)
- Political parties have to display the criminal record of candidates who contest on their ticket on their official websites, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court directed on September 25, 2018.
- Parties should also issue a declaration on the criminal antecedents of their candidates in a widely circulated publication, said a Bench.
- To facilitate this transparency by parties, candidates should rst give complete information about theircriminal past or pending cases to the parties on whose ticket they intend to contest elections, stated the judgment.
- This is to ensure that the ordinary voter can have an “informed choice” about who he has to vote for in a country “tired of money and muscle power,” said the court.
- The direction to compel political parties to go public about their “criminal” candidates is a step to “foster andnurture an informed citizenry” and to protect the “culture and purity in politics.”
- The court said criminal politicians are nothing but a liability to this country. Their presence in power strikes at the roots of democracy. Criminalisation of politics and corruption, especially at the entry level of elections, has become a national and economic terror. It is a disease which is self-destructive and becoming immune to antibiotics, opined the court.
- Parties need to come clean about the criminal elements within their apparatus.
- The candidate should fill up in block letters the complete details of their criminal antecedents, if any.
- Instead, it urged Parliament to consider such a disqualication, saying the nation eagerly awaits its decision. It
- noted that the Election Commission of India has its hands tied, watching on as criminalisation of politics at the entry level is on the rise.
India ranks 158th in ‘human capital’ score, behind Sudan (GS2)
- India ranks 158th in the world for its investments in education and health care, according to the first ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of human capital.
- The nation is placed behind Sudan (ranked 157th) and ahead of Namibia (ranked 159th) in the list. The U.S. is ranked 27th, while China is at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.
- The study, says that India is ranked at 158 out of 195 countries in 2016, an improvement from its position of 162 in 1990. It showed that India is falling behind in terms of health and education of its workforce, which could potentially have long-term negative eects on the Indian economy.
- The study is based on analysis of data from sources, including government agencies, schools, and health care systems.
- The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the request of the World Bank, is the first of its kind to measure and compare the strength of countries’ “human capital”. The study underscores that when a country’s human capital score increases, its economy grows.
- The study places Finland at the top. Turkey showed the most dramatic increase in human capital between 1990 and 2016; Asian countries with notable improvement include China, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. Within Latin America, Brazil stands out for improvement. All these countries have had faster economic growth over this period than peer countries with lower levels of human capital improvement.
- In addition, the greatest increase among sub-Saharan African countries was in Equatorial Guinea.
Indo-Portuguese cultural fete set to begin in Goa (GS1: culture, prelims)
- The Semana da Cultura Indo Portuguesa, an annual event that features cultural exchanges between
- Portugal and Goa, will complete a decade with the 10th edition of the event set to begin in Panaji later this week.
- The event will celebrate and appreciate the rich cultural flavours of the two nations India and Portugal.
- Like previous editions, this year’s edition too will have a film festival, a concert by a Fadista, Fado singing competition, music workshops, a photography exhibition and Indo-Portuguese cuisine workshops.
- A Photography Exhibition will be hosted at the Institute Menezes Braganza.
India only SAARC country to have a quit-line number for tobacco users (Prelims)
- India has become the first and only SAARC country to have a quit-line number on tobacco products.
- The Union Health Ministry has already made 85% pictorial health warning mandatory on both sides of packets containing cigarettes, bidis, and chewing tobacco.
- The quit-line number will be printed on all tobacco products manufactured after September 1, 2018.
- India is the fourth country in Asia after Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to have this government helpline for those looking at quitting tobacco. At least 46 countries have quit-line numbers as part of health warning labels on tobacco product packaging.
- India’s current international ranking for package warnings is number three in the world, as outlined in the October 2016 Canadian Cancer Society’s ‘Cigarette Package Health Warning International Status Report’, that ranked 205countries worldwide.
- The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016-17 by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had put torest all apprehensions about the effectiveness of warnings, since 62% of cigarette smokers and 54% of bidi smokers shared that they thought of quitting because of the 85% pictorial warnings on the packets. And 46% of smokeless tobacco users thought of quitting because of the warnings on smokeless tobacco products.
- The findings revealed a growing demand for cessation centres as 55% of smokers and 50% of smokeless tobacco users were planning or thinking of quitting tobacco use.
Need for an employment policy to solve jobless growth (GS3: Economy)
Job growth not in sync with GDP growth
- A new study released by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment named the ‘State of Working India 2018’ confirms the spectre of jobless growth
- The study contends that the divergence between growth and jobs had increased over time
- In the 1970s and 80s, when GDP growth was around 3-4%, employment growth was about 2%
- Currently, the ratio of GDP growth to employment growth is less than 0.1 i.e. a 10% increase in GDP results in a less than 1% increase in employment
Findings of the study
- The study uses government data to show that total employment actually shrank by seven million between 2013 and 2015
- It cites private data to posit that an absolute decline has continued in the years since
- Unemployment has risen to more than 5% overall
- In geographic terms, north Indian States are the most severely affected, while in demographic terms, young people with higher education levels suffer an unemployment rate as high as 16%
- Rural wage growth collapsed in 2014 and has not risen since
- In the organised manufacturing sector, though the number of jobs has grown, there has also been an increase in the share of contract work, which offers lower wages and less job security
Divergence in productivity and wages
- There is a divergence of productivity and wages in the organised manufacturing sector
- Labour productivity in the sector is six times higher than it was 30 years ago but managerial and supervisory salaries have only tripled in the same period
- The production workers’ wages have grown a measly 1.5 times
Caste gap in jobs
- With regard to earnings, the caste gap is actually larger
- Dalits and Adivasis are over-represented in low-paying occupations and severely under-represented in higher-paying ones
- They earn only 55-56% of upper caste workers’ earnings
Panel approves nutrition norms (GS1: social empowerment, prelims)
- India’s top nutrition panel has recommended that severely malnourished children must be fed freshly cooked food prepared from locally available cereals, pulses and vegetables, and distributed by anganwadi centres, as part of the country’s first-ever guidelines for nutritional management of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
- The guidelines outline the role of anganwadi workers and auxillary nurse midwives (ANMs) in identifying severely wasted children, segregating those with oedema or medical complications and sending them to the nearest health facility or nutrition rehabilitation centres.
- The remaining children are enrolled into “community based management”, which includes provision of nutrition, continuous monitoring of growth, administration of antibiotics and micro-nutrients as well as counselling sessions and imparting of nutrition and health education.
- According to the recommendations, anganwadi workers have to provide modified morning snacks, hot cooked meals and take home ration for SAM children.
- Locally available cereals, pulses, green leafy vegetables and tubers, vitamin C rich fruits, as well as fresh milk and 3-4 eggs every week” have also been prescribed.
- Importantly, the government has also revised the method to be used to measure wasting and advised calculating weight based on the height of children instead of the mid-upper arm circumference.