01st Nov, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Ease of doing business’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Repeating last year’s huge success, India, once again, made a huge jump of 23 places on World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business to secure 77th rank
Not only has India made remarkable progress but has also become the highest ranked economy in South Asia, leaving Bhutan behind. India’s huge stride towards becoming a business-friendly nation has come in the last two years, with a total jump of 53 places. New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark secured the first three ranks in the 190-country list, while Afghanistan made a huge progress among South-Asian countries besides India.
About the latest ranking
- By improving on six of the ten parameters, India has also made its place among top ten improvers in the world, for the second consecutive year. Last year, India had jumped 30 ranks to break into top 100 of the elite list for the first time.
- From the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), labour laws reforms to electronic trade documentation, World Bank said, several big and small reforms made India advance to the 77th place in the global ranking.
- The recent corporate tax rate cut for small businesses in the Budget 2018 also got praise from the World Bank.
About Ease of doing business ranking
The World Bank’s Doing Business report assesses 190 economies on ten parameters — starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
‘Astrosat’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Scientists using data from India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite, AstroSat, and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found that a black hole in the binary star system 4U 1630-47 spins close to the maximum possible rate.
What is a Black Hole?
A black hole is a region in space where the pulling force of gravity is so strong that light is not able to escape. The strong gravity occurs because matter has been pressed into a tiny space. This compression can take place at the end of a star’s life. Some black holes are a result of dying stars.
Because no light can escape, black holes are invisible. However, space telescopes with special instruments can help find black holes. They can observe the behavior of material and stars that are very close to black holes.
Black holes can come in a range of sizes, but there are three main types of black holes. The black hole’s mass and size determine what kind it is.
The smallest ones are known as primordial black holes. Scientists believe this type of black hole is as small as a single atom but with the mass of a large mountain.
The most common type of medium-sized black holes is called “stellar.” The mass of a stellar black hole can be up to 20 times greater than the mass of the sun and can fit inside a ball with a diameter of about 10 miles. Dozens of stellar mass black holes may exist within the Milky Way galaxy.
The largest black holes are called “supermassive.” These black holes have masses greater than 1 million suns combined and would fit inside a ball with a diameter about the size of the solar system. Scientific evidence suggests that every large galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its center. The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy is called Sagittarius A. It has a mass equal to about 4 million suns and would fit inside a ball with a diameter about the size of the sun.
Primordial black holes are thought to have formed in the early universe, soon after the big bang.
Stellar black holes form when the center of a very massive star collapses in upon itself. This collapse also causes a supernova, or an exploding star, that blasts part of the star into space.
Scientists think supermassive black holes formed at the same time as the galaxy they are in. The size of the supermassive black hole is related to the size and mass of the galaxy it is in.
Our sun and Black hole
The sun does not have enough mass to collapse into a black hole. In billions of years, when the sun is at the end of its life, it will become a red giant star. Then, when it has used the last of its fuel, it will throw off its outer layers and turn into a glowing ring of gas called a planetary nebula. Finally, all that will be left of the sun is a cooling white dwarf star.
About Astrosat mission
ASTROSAT is India’s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory. This scientific satellite mission endeavours for a more detailed understanding of our universe. One of the unique features of ASTROSAT mission is that enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite.
ASTROSAT observes universe in the optical, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, whereas most other scientific satellites are capable of observing a narrow range of wavelength band. Multi-wavelength observations of ASTROSAT can be further extended with coordinated observations using other spacecraft and ground based observations. All major astronomy Institutions and some Universities in India are participating in these observations.
The scientific objectives of ASTROSAT mission are:
- To understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes
- Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars
- Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy
- Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky
- Perform a limited deep field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region
‘Core sector growth’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Growth of eight infrastructure sectors slowed down to 4.3 percent in September, the lowest in the last four months, as production of crude oil and natural gas declined.
About Core sectors in India
he monthly Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) is a production volume index. The objective of the ICI is to provide an advance indication on production performance of industries of ‘core’ nature before the release of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) by Central Statistics Office. These industries are likely to impact on general economic activities as well as industrial activities.
ICI measures collective and individual performance of production in selected eight core industries viz. Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Petroleum Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement and Electricity. Components covered in these eight industries for the purpose of compilation of index are as follows:
- Coal – Coal Production excluding Coking coal.
- Crude Oil – Total Crude Oil Production.
- Natural Gas – Total Natural Gas Production.
- Refinery Products – Total Refinery Production (in terms of Crude Throughput).
- Fertilizer – Urea, Ammonium Sulphate (A/S), Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN), Ammonium chloride (A/C), Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Complex Grade Fertilizer and Single superphosphate (SSP).
- Steel – Production of Alloy and Non-Alloy Steel only.
- Cement – Production of Large Plants and Mini Plants.
- Electricity – Actual Electricity Generation of Thermal, Nuclear, Hydro, imports from Bhutan.
The Index is compiled and released by Office of the Economic Adviser (OEA), Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
The Eight Core Index broadly has a combined weight of 37.90 % in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and is published about 12 days prior to IIP. The weights of respective industries in IIP are – Coal 4.38 %, Crude Oil production 5.22 %, Natural Gas 1.71 %, Petroleum Refinery 5.94 %, Fertilizers 1.25 %, Steel 6.68 %, Cement production 2.41 % and Electricity generation 10.32 %.
After the base revision to 2011, the Eight Core Industries comprise 40.27 per cent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The industry-wise weights indicated in the ICI are individual industry weight derived from IIP and blown up on pro rata basis to a combined weight of ICI equal to 100 – (Coal 10.33 %, Crude Oil production 8.98 %, Natural Gas 6.88%, Petroleum Refinery 28.04 %, Fertilizers 2.63 %, Steel 17.92 %, Cement production 5.37 % and Electricity generation 19.85%.)
The ICI is widely used by policy makers, including, Ministry of Finance, other Ministries and Departments, Banks financing Infrastructure projects, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Railway Board.
‘Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs)’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: October has turned out to be the worst-ever month for Indian equities in terms of outflows from foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) that are often looked upon as the prime drivers of any bull run.
Data shows that FPIs have been net sellers at nearly $4 billion or ₹28,921 crore in October, which is significantly higher than any single month net sales registered in the last 16 years since data is available.
Possible reasons for such a selling spree
While market participants attribute the FPI selling to the overall aversion towards emerging markets coupled with factors such as the record fall in the rupee against the dollar and the surge in global oil prices that adversely impacts India’s current account deficit
What is FPI?
Foreign portfolio investment (FPI) consists of securities and other financial assets passively held by foreign investors. It does not provide the investor with direct ownership of financial assets and is relatively liquid depending on the volatility of the market. Foreign portfolio investment differs from foreign direct investment (FDI), in which a domestic company runs a foreign firm, because although FDI allows a company to maintain better control over the firm held abroad, it may face more difficulty selling the firm at a premium price in the future.
Foreign portfolio investment is part of a country’s capital account and shown on its balance of payments (BOP). The BOP measures the amount of money flowing from one country to other countries over one monetary year. It includes the country’s capital investments, monetary transfers, and the number of exports and imports of goods and services.
‘ZIKA’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: After Jaipur and Ahmedabad, the Union Health Ministry has now sent a team of experts to Madhya Pradesh to confirm and verify reports of Zika virus cases in the state.
In India, the first outbreak of Zika virus was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district in July that year. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.
About ZIKA virus
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. From the 1960s to 1980s, rare sporadic cases of human infections were found across Africa and Asia, typically accompanied by mild illness.
The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3–14 days. The majority of people infected with Zika virus do not develop symptoms. Symptoms are generally mild including fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache, and usually last for 2–7 days.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities in the developing fetus and newborn. Zika infection in pregnancy also results in pregnancy complications such as fetal loss, stillbirth, and preterm birth.
Zika virus infection is also a trigger of Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy and myelitis, particularly in adults and older children.
Zika virus is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti, in tropical and subtropical regions. Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day, peaking during early morning and late afternoon/evening. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Zika virus is also transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, through sexual contact, transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation.
Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) (GS2: Government policies and programmes for development in various sectors)
Issue: In the financial year 2018-19 (up to October 2018), the total sales of Janaushadhi medicines have crossed Rs. 150 crores. This has led to total savings of approximately Rs. 600 crores for common people, as these medicines are cheaper by 50% to 90% as compared to average market price of branded medicines.
BPPI (Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India), under the administrative control of the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals& Fertilizers, Government of India will be the implementation agency for the PMBJP.
BPPI has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Government of India, with the support of all the Pharma CPSUs for coordinating procurement, supply and marketing of generic drugs through the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras.
To bring down the healthcare budget of every citizen of India through providing Quality generic Medicines at Affordable Prices
- 1. Create awareness among public regarding generic medicines.
- 2. Create demand for generic medicines through medical practioners.
- 3. Create awareness through education and awareness program that high price need not be synonymous with high quality.
- 4. Provide all the commonly used generic medicines covering all the therapeutic groups.
- 5. Provide all the related health care products too under the scheme.
Features of the programme
- State Governments or any organization / reputed NGOs / Trusts / Private hospitals / Charitable institutions / Doctors / Unemployed pharmacist/ individual entrepreneurs are eligible to apply for new Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras.
- Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras can be located within Government hospital premises as well as Private hospital premises or anywhere outside.
- In addition to medicines and surgical items supplied by BPPI, Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras will be allowed to sell allied medical products commonly sold in chemist shops so as to improve the viability of running the Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendra.
- BPPI shall plan and undertake suitable media activities so as to spread the message of generic medicines and to achieve the objectives of the PMBJP.
- Financial support to applicants: An amount of Rs.2.5 lakhs shall be extended to NGOs/agencies/individuals establishing Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras in Government hospital premises where space is provided free of cost by Government to operating agency: Rs. 1 lakh reimbursement of furniture and fixtures Rs. 1 lakh by way of free medicines in the beginning Rs. 0.50 lakh as reimbursement for computer and peripherals, internet, etc.
Vehicle Location Tracking (VLT) (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways vide notification dated 25.10.18, has mandated that all new public service vehicles except auto rickshaws and eRickshaws, registered on and after 1st January 2019, will have to be equipped with Vehicle Location Tracking ( VLT )with emergency buttons.
The VLT device manufacturers would assist in providing the back end services for monitoring. This regulation is being brought in to ensure safety of passengers especially women.
‘Rahul Dravid’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Dravid became only the fifth player from India to be named in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
Other Indian cricketers inducted in ICC Hall of fame
Dravid joins an elite list that includes Bishan Singh Bedi, Kapil Dev, Gavaskar and Anil Kumble.