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BATCH : 30th August 2018

Current Affairs

RBI hikes repo rates by 25 basis points

The six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to increase the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5% due to inflation concerns.

Repurchase rate or the repo rate is the rate at which the RBI lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Reverse repo — the rate at which the RBI borrows money from commercial banks within the country — is adjusted to 6.25 per cent.

Five members of the MPC voted for the rate hike. While raising the key policy rates, the RBI, however, has maintained the neutral policy stance.

“Uncertainty around domestic inflation needs to be carefully monitored in the coming months,” the central bank said while increasing its inflation projection.

Source: The Hindu

Parliament updates live | In a discussion on commercial courts, members speak about judicial vacancies

Two key bills are set to be introduced on the tenth day of the monsoon session of the parliament. While The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018 will be introduced in the Lok Sabha, The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018, will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

Source: The Hindu

‘Asian Premium’

Why in News?

  • It is observed that Asian countries are more dependent on oil imports from Middle East than that of any other country. Due to this dependence Asians are paying a premium for the Middle East crude oil relative to those in the US and EU.
  • The composition of DPC is such that it will have the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, three service chiefs, Secretaries of the ministries of defence, expenditure and foreign affairs as its members.
  • The member secretary of DPV is the Chief of Integrated Staff in the MoD.
  •  The member secretary of DPV is the Chief of Integrated Staff in the MoD.

Source: The Hindu

‘Asian Premium’

Background:

  • It is observed that Asian countries are more dependent on oil imports from Middle East than that of any other country. Due to this dependence Asians are paying a premium for the Middle East crude oil relative to those in the US and EU.
  • Number of studies have identified that higher price is paid by the Asians and this is known as “Asian Premium”.
  • OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is an intergovernmental organization of 14 nations accounted for an estimate of 44 percent of global oil production and 73 percent of the World’s “proven” oil reserves.

Why in News?

  • Indian has decided that it would coordinate with China and other Asian countries and raise voice against the “Asian Premium” which is being charged by OPEC.
  • With the help of China India plan to draw a strategy that would result in getting a better price from OPEC countries.
  • India is also planning to raise the issue of International Energy Forum.

Source: The Hindu

Ayushman Bharat for Healthier India

What is it?

  • Ayushman Bharat is a National Health Protection Scheme intended to provide upto 5 Lakh rupees per family every year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization, will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families.
  • This scheme will subsume with two ongoing centrally sponsored schemes- Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).

Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS). This scheme intends to constitute the very foundation of New India’s health care system. It aims to remove comprehensive primary health care with Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs).

Problem with old Policies:

  • At present our primary health care facility prioritise on reproduction, maternal health, newborn and child health along with controlling communicable diseases
  • This is just 15% of our needs.
  • There are a huge number of unmet needs for primary health care like care for non-communicable diseases, mental health care of the aged, adolescent health, palliative health care, basic eye care and dental health.
  • If we can address all these issues then we can build a strong primary health care system which will save a lot of lives and lead to a healthier India.
  • This can be a turning point for Indian Health Care System as it would also generate a lot of job opportunities for people, especially for women, and lead to growth and development.

Source: Source: The Hindu

Urgent Reforms for the Rights of Transgender

Why in News?

  • According to the famous NALSA vs. Union of India case the right to gender identity is inherent in one's right to life, autonomy, and dignity.
  • It was also held that irrespective of medical sex reassignment and the right to expression of their chosen gender identity, every transgender person have the right to identify their gender as male, female or transgender.
  • This famous NALSA case gave the Trans rights movement a great amount of excitement and momentum in India.
  • For the first time, public recognition was given to the violence and discrimination that the Trans community faces in India and declared unequivocally their entitlement to Constitutional Fundamental Rights.
  • Since ages we have seen that transgender persons have been criminalised, discriminated against, deprived access to education and employment, have faced sexual and physical violence and have even been killed due to their gender choices.

What have the Apex Court said?

  • The Supreme Court has directed the central and state governments to grant legal recognition of gender identity of male, female or transgender,
  • They should be provided with medical facilities in government hospitals and also separate public toilets and other facilities.
  • They should also be provided with reservations in educational institutes and job sectors.
  • There should be social welfare schemes for their uplift along with public awareness.

Have these been fulfilled?

  • The Transgender Persons Bill, 2016 is extremely problematic as it even fails to define the term Transgender adequately and have also been rejected by the Trans community.

Way forward:

  • It is time to really work towards to fulfill all these reforms.
  • The government should work towards the realisation of Trans Rights and the Supreme Court should take a strong stand on the matter.

Source: The Hindu

Call for Support for Breastfeeding

Recently the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a 10 step Guidance in Support of Breastfeeding.

Key Pointers:

  • According to the report published by WHO, breastfeeding all babies for the first 2 years would save the lives of more than 8,20,000 children under the age of 5 annually.
  • The guidance provided is for the services and facilities for maternity care and newborns, which would provide immediate health system platform to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour and breastfeed exclusively for six months.
  • The guidelines also mention how hospitals should have written breastfeeding policy in place, and required stuff and antenatal and post-birth care, including breastfeeding support for mothers.
  • It also suggests limited use of breastfeeding substitutes, responsive feeding, educating parents on the use of bottles and pacifiers and also provide support when mothers and babies are discharged from the hospitals.

Source: The Hindu

Digital Transformation

Key Notes:

  • An estimate of around $154 billion is expected to be added to India’s GDP by 2021 though Digital transformation. This would also increase the growth rate by 1% every year.
  • It is expected that within the next four years nearly 60% of India’s GDP will have a strong connection to the digital transformation trends.
  • Around 4% of India’s GDP was derived from digital products and services in 2017.
  • These digital products and services created directly through the use of digital technologies such as mobility, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Note:

IoT is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software and connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data.


Source: The Hindu

Funds for Defence Enterprises

Key Pointers:

  • A dedicated Defence and Aerospace SME fund is being planned to be set up by the Indian Government.
  • This new fund is for small and medium defence enterprises.
  • The funds channelize investments from two defence corridors, in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • This fund will be registered with SEBI.

Note:

IoT is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software and connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data.


Source: The Hindu

Dance Panel found near Tiruchi of Nayak Period

Key Pointers:

  • A rare deance panel belonging to the Nayak period and an inscribed pillar of Chola period have been located on an abandoned brick mound at Pathalapettai near Kiliyur in Tiruchi.
  • It has a Tamil Inscription of Chola palaeography with few Grantha letters. • Silappathikaram (famous literally work from South) mentions such ritualistic performances.
  • According to the inscription that pillar was gifted by certain Rajaladeviyar Sativinjey, queen of Iladevayan.

Source: The Hindu

India-EU Decides to Counter Online Radicalisation

Why in News?

  • In May this year the members of European Union (EU) and Law enforcement agencies of India are scheduled to meet in New Delhi to discuss the ways of countering online radicalization.
  • As both the countries are facing major issues due to online reach of radical organizations so they would meet with the aim to draw a roadmap for neutralizing the impact of extremism.
  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) would be in charge of this meeting.
  • India and EU are also cooperating on ways to combat terrorism by listing area-specific and global terrorist groups and sharing with each other.

Background:

  • The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
  • EU aims to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development.

Source: The Hindu

Dramatic Drop of Complaints in CVC

Key Pointers:

  • As per the report, the Central Vigilance Commission saw a dramatic drop in the total number of cases. Around 23,609 number of cases were received in 2017, which is even less than half of the number received in 2016 i.e. 50,000 and is also lowest in previous five years.
  • There are several reasons for this. According to the officials, the system of weeding out duplication of complaints is improved and with other exercises undertaken in recent years has also helped in decreasing the number of fake reports.
  • Majority of the complaints the allegations’ were found to be vague.
  • According to some experts, an in-depth study is required to see if the public is losing faith in anti-corruption bodies because of perceived inefficiency.
  • The annual report of the CVC itself shows considerable reasons for this lack of faith.
  • According to the procedure, the inquiry/investigation reports are required to be sent to the commission within a period of three months. However, it is seen in most of the cases there is considerable delay in finalising and submission of the report.

Source: The Hindu

Supreme Court: Right to convert is a Fundamental Right of Choice

Why in News?

  • With reference to the case of Hadiya a 26 years old Homeopathy student who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, the Supreme Court has held that a person’s right to choose a religion and marry is an intrinsic part of her meaningful existence.
  • As freedom of faith is essential to his/her autonomy, neither the state nor “patriarchal supremacy” can interfere with that decision.
  • The ability of each individual to pursue a way of life or faith is supremely protected by the Constitution.
  • Matters relating to belief and faith, including what to believe are the core part of constitutional liberty.

Source: The Hindu

Election Commission’s Call on Electoral Bonds

The Election Commission is soon to take a fresh view of the electoral bonds after analyzing the terms of the government notification and the outcome of two rounds of their sales.

Why in News?

  • This step is taken because the information regarding the value of bonds in the first round of sales was not reported directly to the Election Commission.
  • This information was disclosed by the government in Lok Sabha in response to the question from an MP.
  • According to the amendment to Section 29C of the Representation of the People Act has made it no longer mandatory for the parties to report the details of the donations received through the bonds.
  • But as per section 29C(1) of The Representation of People Act, 1951, the political party needs to disclose all the donations made by any non-governmental corporations and persons of more than Rs 20,000 to it in the financial year.

Background:

  • Electoral Bond is a financial instrument for making donations to political parties, which are issued by Scheduled Commercial Banks who are authorized by Central Government.
  • It cannot be purchased by paying cash. (only checks and digital payments)
  • They are available for purchase for a period of 10days each in the months of January, April, July, and October, as may be specified by the Central Government.

Source: The Hindu

Imports of Hormone Oxytocin Banned by the Government

Background:

  • Oxytocin is a powerful hormone which acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, and also plays a huge role in all pair bonding.
  • It regulates social interaction and sexual reproduction, playing a role in behaviors from maternal-infant bonding and milk release to empathy, generosity, and orgasm.
  • It is also an antidote to depressive feelings.

Why in News?

  • In order to stop the misuse in the livestock industry, the Union Government has banned the imports of the hormone oxytocin.
  • This step is taken because it causes hormonal imbalances and shortens the lives of milch animals.
  • The drug makes them barren sooner.

Source: The Hindu

RBI Stops Banks from dealing with Virtual Currencies

Key Pointers:

  • All banks have been asked by RBI not to provide services to any entity dealing with dealing virtual currencies with immediate effect.
  • Regulated entities who are already providing such services should exit such relationship within three months.
  • RBI is planning to explore introduce its own digital currency.
  • This report is supposed to be submitted by June end 2018.
  • An interdepartmental group is formed by RBI to study and provide guidance on the desirability and feasibility to introduce a central bank digital currency.

Source: The Hindu

Urgent Reforms for Skill India

Skill India aims to meet employer’s needs of skills and most importantly prepare workers for a decent livelihood.

Key Pointers:

  • The key part of India’s growth story lies in restoring the demographic dividend of India.
  • In order to improve "Skill India" and rationalize the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), the Sharada Prasad Committee was formed by the Government of India in 2016.
  • The committee submitted its report in 2016.
  • The suggestions given by the committee are:
    • The most important part of the report notified that the vocational education/training (VET) is not just for the underprivileged communities. It is just not to fill the gap for those who could not make it through formal education. It should be for all.
    • Few other suggestions are to have a separate stream for vocational education, having Central University to award degrees and diplomas.
  • Few steps have to be taken in order improve VET like the serious engagement of employers.
  • This can be ensured by aligning the courses to international requirements, making life-long learning possible and a basic foundation in the 3Rs.
  • We should have only 450 courses in accordance with the National Classification of Occupation 2015.
  • National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) had recommended rationalization of qualification packs/job roles.

Way Forward:

With all the reforms suggested by the committee, India can surely become the world's skill capital.


Source: The Hindu

India in the List of Countries Most Vulnerable to Cyber Threat

Key Pointers:

  • According to the Internet Security Threat Report, published by the security solution provider Symantec the risk of cyber threat has increased.
  • With the number of cybercrime being on the rise, India is one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of risk of Cyber threat.
  • As per the report, India is the third most vulnerable country in matters of the risk of cyber threats, such as malware, spam, and ransomware, in 2017.
  • There are eight metrics based on which the global threat ranking in measured:
    • Malware,
    • Spam,
    • Phishing,
    • Bots,
    • Network attacks,
    • Web attacks,
    • Ransomware and
    • Cryptominers.
  • Compared to previous year India has moved up.
  • According to the report, the US most vulnerable to cyber attack, followed by China. In 2017, 5.09%of global threats were detected in India.

Source: The Hindu

RBI’s Inflation Forecast

Key Pointers:

  • Based on the consumer price index, the RBI expects an inflation of 4.7-5.1%in the first half of fiscal year.
  • It is also expected to come down to 4.4% in the second half- including the effect of house rent allowance for the Central government employees under the Seventh pay commission.
  • Oil prices are expected to remain unstable and elevated.
  • There is no clarity regarding how the higher MSP (Minimum Support Price) and other related policies announced in the budget, will be implemented.
  • However an increase in MSPs is reported and this could push up farm gate prices by about 15%
  • The retail food inflation would be affected significantly due to this.
  • Another factor to be kept in mind is that if the monsoon turns out to be deficient, it will have consequences for both inflation and government expenditure.

Source: The Hindu

Compensatory Afforestation Fund

Why in News?

  • collection of Rs 50,000 crore is reported to have been collected in CAF by the Ministry of State for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.
  • This money will be used to offset forest losses through the CAF Act, 2016.
  • The funds are also to be used to “afforest” alternative land.
  • The CAF act, 2016 is not an effective safeguard.
  • In order to provide forest-dependent communities with a resource via individual or community land titles, the Forest Rights Act was enacted in 2006.
  • The gram sabha was given authority in forest stewardship through this act.
  • Yet after a decade, the FRA remains under- implemented and its aim of devolving power to rural communities delayed the CAF Act, 2016.
  • There are a lot of problems with the act as it gives unchecked powers to the bureaucrats to take-up plantation on private and common property resources. In short, there is no meaningful safeguard against forest bureaucracy.

Source: The Hindu

Editorial

Clearance to the Human Rights Bill 2018

Key Pointers:

  • The long-pending Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2018 was cleared by the Cabinet. Along with adding women members to the panel, it proposed to include the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights too.
  • The bill is yet to be ratified by the Parliament.
  • It is proposed to enlarge the scope of eligibility and selection of the chairperson of NHRC along with the State Human Rights Commission.
  • The bill is aiming to amend the terms of chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC in accordance with the terms of chairperson and members of other commissions.

Background:

  • The President of India is responsible for the appointment of the Chairperson and members of NHRC, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
    • The Prime Minister (Chairperson),
    • The Home Minister,
    • The Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha,
    • The Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha,
    • The Speaker of Lok Sabha,
    • The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  • National Human Rights Commission of India was given a statutory status by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • It is responsible for the protection and promotion of Human Rights defined by the Act as, "rights relating to the life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants".

Source: Indian Express

Weaponisation of Outer Space

Key Pointers:

  • At the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) India has voiced opposition to the “weaponization” of outer space, saying that it should not become an area of conflict.
  • India has called for collective efforts in order to ensure safety and security of the space-based assets.
  • NAM has proposed for the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to commence negotiations on a comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention and this is supported by India.
  • For the first time in the last 18 years, deliberation is about to begin on the new agenda.
  • In August this year, the group of governmental experts on outer space will meet in Geneva.

Background:

  • In 1952, the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) was created by the UN General Assembly under the Security Council.
  • It reports annually to General Assembly.
  • Since 1978, numerous disarmament-related questions, both nuclear and conventional have been dealt by the Disarmament Commission.

Source: Indian Express

No affront to Dalit rights. Says SC: GS-2

The Supreme Court said it's March 20 judgment, banning immediate arrest of a person accused of insulting or injuring a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe member, is meant to protect innocents from arbitrary arrest and not an affront to Dalit rights.

Supreme Court stands by its SC/ST Act judgment

The Supreme Court said the interim relief provided to the victims of atrocities, under the law, must be given immediately without waiting for the filing of a first information report. The law was amended recently to provide monetary and other kinds of relief to SC and ST victims, in accordance with the offence and their status.

The judges said the liberty of innocent people must be protected as much as that of the SCs and STs. During the hearing, the judges observed that those who were agitating against the judgment had "either not read the judgment or have been misled by others".

judges insisted that no innocent person should be jailed before a preliminary inquiry. Unlike in other offences, where there is an inquiry before an arrest, this law provides for no forum to verify the allegations.

Not a single toilet built in Delhi under Swachh Bharat Mission: CAG GS-2

Not a single toilet was constructed in the national capital since the inception of the Swachh Bharat Mission two-and-half years ago, with funds to the tune of Rs 40.31 crore for this purpose lying 'idle', the CAG said.

According to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) tabled in the Delhi Assembly, the AAP-led city government did not allocate the Mission funds to implementing agencies as per their requirements.

It said the implementing agencies, including all three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs) and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), received a total of Rs 40.31 crore under the Mission including Rs 10.08 crore \ as state share, but the entire fund remained unutilised as of March 2017.

The CAG also added that beneficiaries of unauthorised colonies were not considered for construction of household toilets under the Mission, which means "most of the habitats known for lack of toilet facilities were excluded from the Mission at the planning stage itself.”

The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry released the Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) Index.

The Index report was prepared by the Deloitte for the ministry. The study is based on a perception-based survey of 2,885 respondents across the country over a six-week period.

As per the study, Gujarat, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra were in the top five positions respectively in terms of efficiency in the logistics sector.

  • On 10 January 2018, the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its approval for the continuation of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) beyond the 12th plan period i.e. March 2017. As per the approval, the scheme will be operational till the term of the 14th Finance Commission i.e. 31st March 2020.

About LEADS Index

  • It is an indicator to assess international trade logistics across States and Union Territories of India.
  • It is loosely based on the World Bank's biannual Logistics Performance Index (LPI). It should be noted that India was placed at the 35th position among 160 countries surveyed in 2016, up from 54th rank in 2014.
  • It is a composite index and is based on eight parameters. They are infrastructure, track and trace, services, timeliness, competitiveness of pricing, operating environment, the safety of the cargo and regulatoryprocess.
  • It provides useful insights to the policymakers on the deficiencies in the existing infrastructure and the measures to boost efficiency in the logistics sector in order to promote internal and external trade.
  • The CCEA also agreed to continue the scheme as the Central Sector Scheme as earlier.

About MPLADS

  • The Scheme was launched in 1993-94 by the PV Narasimha Rao-led government.
  • The objective of the scheme is to enable MPs to recommend the works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies.
  • Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their constituencies and elected members of RajyaSabha can recommend works within the State of the election. Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
  • Each MP will recommend works up to the annual entitlement during the financial year to the concerned District Authority. The District Authority will get the eligible sanctioned works executed as per the established procedure of the State Government.
  • It should be noted that the District Authority continues to hold to powers to grant administrative sanctionto the works recommended by concerned MPs.

Ministry withdraws fake news order: GS-2

  • 1. After widespread criticism of new rules issued by the government yesterday to check fake news, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) directed the information and broadcasting ministry to withdraw its press statement about the new rules.
  • 2. The ministry duly withdrew them.
  • 3. The PMO further said issues to do with fake news should only be addressed in and bythe Press Council of India (PCI), the regulatory body for print journalism.
  • 4. As per amended guidelines for journalists' accreditation, if the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of the journalist responsible for it would be suspended for six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.
  • 5. Responding to the notification, Press Club of India president said: “The government has no mandate to control the press. The media were also worried about growing incidents of fake news but the Press Council is the right platform to deal with complaints of anyfake news."

Cut in mahua price a blow to Adivasis: GS-3

The aboriginal people of the erstwhile unified Adilabad stand to lose an estimated Rsl crore in supplemental income this summer as the State government has slashed the purchase price of mahua flower, or ippa puvvu, by 50 percent without intimating the Adivasis.

Ippa puvvu collection it is a centuries-old traditional work for the Adivasis. The expected yield of ippa puvvu, especially in Adilabad and Kumram Bheem Asifabaddistrict this season, is about 10,000 quintals.

After the price cut, the collectors will only get only Rs 1 crore at Rs 1,000 a quintal.

Mahua flower, a prime minor forest produce in the agency areas, is an important source of supplemental income for the Adivasis during summer when there is no agricultural activity. The tribal people sell most of their collection to the TSGCC, originally the APGCC.

The corporation was formed in 1956 with the sole aim of protecting the Adivasis from exploitation by private traders.

Private traders from Yavatmal and Gondia in Maharashtra used to purchase the flowersat abysmally low prices.

'Over 9,000 km of NH laid": GS-3

Over 9,829 km of National Highways was constructed during the financial year 2017- 18, recording a growth of 20% over the previous year.

The Minister also announced that the government would adopt international norms for calculating highways construction from this fiscal, which would include measuring lane kilometres instead of linear distance.

Until now, whether govt, constructed (1 kilometre of) six lanes or 14 lanes, it wasconsidered as 1 kilometre, but the world standard is different.

This method did not truly reflect the amount of work completed, and that globally thelength of each lane was calculated separately.

The new method for calculating road construction would be used from the currentfiscal.

The Minister said the target of constructing 40 km a day would be achieved by the endof this fiscal.

'Minors can't opt out of Aadhaar once they are 18': GS-2

Minors, whose Aadhaar card has already been generated, cannot opt out of the Aadhaar scheme after attaining majority, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UI DAI) told the Supreme Court. School authorities can act as introducers to get children, between the age group of 5to 15 years, enrolled for Aadhaar with the parental consent.

Residents have the option of permanently locking their biometrics and only temporarily unlocking it when needed for biometric authentication as per Regulation 11 of the Aadhaar (Authentication) Regulations, 2016,"

"It must be stated that authentication failures do not mean exclusion or denial from subsidies, benefits or services since the requesting entities are obliged under the law to provide for exception handling mechanisms".

Those whose enrolments have been rejected for any reason and who do not have Aadhaar can re-enroll and obtain it, he said, adding that rejection of enrolments did not mean that a person will never be able to get it.

Biometric failure is not related to age, says UIDAI

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) claimed there is no "conclusive evidence" to say that biometric authentication success is dependent upon age.

"Slightly higher authentication failure rates have been observed only for fingerprintsfor senior citizens above the age of 70," UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said.

The petitioners have argued that Aadhaar is prone to biometric authentication failure and results in the financial exclusion of senior citizens and those employed in manual labour.

Authentication failures do not mean exclusion or denial of subsidies, benefits orservices since the requesting entities are obliged under the law to provide for exception-handling mechanisms," the UIDAI response said.


RBI didn't audit PNB properly: CVC GS-3

  • The Mankidia tribe was in the news as the group was denied habitat rights in the core area of Simlipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha.
  • The decision was taken by the Odisha forest department officials under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
  • The habitat rights were denied on the groundsthat the tribal could be attacked by wildanimals, especially tigers.
  • It is one of the thirteen Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) residing in Odisha. The members of tribe critically depend onmaking rope with siali fibre that's richly available in Similipal.Other PVTGs residing in Odisha are Birhor,Bondo, Didayi, Dongria-Khond, Juangs, Kharias, Kutia Kondh, Lanjia Sauras, Lodhas, Paudi Bhuyans, Soura and Chuktia Bhunjia.

About Mankidias tribe

  • The Mankidia tribe was in the news as the group was denied habitat rights in the core area of Simlipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha.
  • The decision was taken by the Odisha forest department officials under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
  • The habitat rights were denied on the groundsthat the tribal could be attacked by wildanimals, especially tigers.
  • It is one of the thirteen Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) residing in Odisha. The members of tribe critically depend onmaking rope with siali fibre that's richly available in Similipal.Other PVTGs residing in Odisha are Birhor,Bondo, Didayi, Dongria-Khond, Juangs, Kharias, Kutia Kondh, Lanjia Sauras, Lodhas, Paudi Bhuyans, Soura and Chuktia Bhunjia.

About PVTGs

  • 1. Particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) is a classification created by the Union Government to improve the conditions of the most vulnerable population among tribal.
  • 2. Previously, these groups were known asPrimitive Tribal Groups.
  • 3. In 2006, they were renamed as ParticularlyVulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • 4. The features of PVTGs are a practice of hunting and gathering, zero or negative population growth, extremely low level of literacy in comparison with other tribal groups.
  • 5. At present, there are 75 PVTGs in 20 States andUnion Territories.
  • 6. With 13 PVTGs, Odisha is home to the most number of Particularly vulnerable tribal groups in the country. Great Andamanese, Jarawas, Onges, Sentinelese and Shorn Pens are the PVTGs in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Court questions Centre's flip flops GS-2

The Supreme Court questioned the government for shifting its stand in the court by first agreeing there is an abuse of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and now filing a review petition against the March 20 judgment.

Amicus curiae in the case said the March20 judgment was based on thegovernment's views about abuse of the 1989 law. It was the government which gave the data, made the submissions and now they are challenging the judgment.

The judgment led to massive protests even as the Centre rushed to the Supreme Court for itsreview. The judgment bans immediate arrest of those charged under provisions of the 1989 Act. A preliminary inquiry should be conducted first into the veracity of a complaint filed by a Dalit under the Act before registration of a first information report.

Justice Goel pointed out that it was the government which brought on record the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment (2014-15) on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014.

The report had rejected the stand of the Ministry that there was no need to act against false ormala fide implications under the Atrocities Act.

It was this report which became a deciding factor for the court to lay down the guidelines againstarbitrary arrests or false implications under the Act.

In the review petition, on the other hand, the Centre supported the ban on anticipatory bail andsaid it was not in violation of the fundamental right to personal liberty.

RBI didn't audit PNB properly: CVC GS-3

Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K V Chowdary said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) did not audit the Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch that sanctioned the loan defaulted by jeweller Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choksi.

RBI did not conduct the audit at PNB since it had switched over from a periodic audit to a "risk-based" audit which is conducted when there is a financial risk involved.

The anti-corruption watchdog also stressed on the need to put a more robust auditing system toprevent such large-scale frauds at the banks. The bank fraud perpetrated at the Mumbai branch of PNB remain undetected despite Modi availingdifferent credit facilities between 2013 and 2017.

Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K V Chowdary pointed out that the RBI issues generalguidelines as a regulator and also when foreign exchange is involved.

It was primarily the responsibility of the banks to ensure that their business was conducted in aproper and ethical way, He said when something goes wrong, "one cannot blame everybody". "There is a systemic issue (here). They (RBI) have decided instead of every year or every once in two, three or four years,they will do it (risk-based auditing).

'Manufacturing PMI at 5 month low': GS-3

Manufacturing sector activity slipped to a five-month low in March ' as order flow lost momentum, and businesses showed little appetite for recruitment, a private survey showed.

The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by IHS Markit, declined to 51 in March from 52.1 in February.

Since a reading above 50 indicates growth and one below itdenotes contraction, March's figure means manufacturing activity remained in expansion mode. The data comes ahead of the monetary policy review this week, where the Reserve Bank of India is expected to hold rates.

"PMI employment data gave warning signs in the labour market as jobs growth was not sustained in March," adding that "manufacturers operating in consumption and intermediate market groups signalled no appetite for recruitment".

The overseas demand for Indian goods also slipped to a four-month low amid growing fears of a trade war between the US and China which could have a domino effect across the globe.

Advances in trade disputes could potentially weigh on sales to international clients, the survey said.

India Ranks 37th In Global Start-up Ecosystem: Start-upblink Report

According to report released by global start-up ecosystem map Start-up link, India was ranked 37th out of 125 countries in global start-up ecosystem in 2017. Start-up link is a global start-up ecosystem map with tens of thousands of registered start-ups, cowering spaces, and accelerators. The list, measuring start-up ecosystem strength and activity, was topped by the United States followed by the United Kingdom.