Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 5 NOVEMBER 2018


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 5 NOVEMBER 2018


::NATIONAL::

Central information commission issues show cause notice to RBI

• The Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued a show-cause notice to RBI Governor Urjit Patel for “dishonouring” a Supreme Court judgment on disclosure of wilful defaulters’ list.

• The CIC has also asked the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to make public the letter of former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan on bad loans.

• Irked over the denial of information on the disclosure of the names of wilful defaulters who have taken bank loans of ₹50 crore and above by the RBI in spite of a Supreme Court order, the CIC has asked Mr. Patel to explain why a maximum penalty be not imposed on him for “dishonouring” the verdict which had upheld a decision taken by then Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, calling for disclosure of names of wilful defaulters.

• Mr. Patel, speaking on September 20 at the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), had said the guidelines on vigilance, issued by the CVC, were aimed at achieving greater transparency, promoting a culture of honesty and probity in public life and improving the overall vigilance administration in the organisations within its purview, the CIC pointed out.

• Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said that it did not serve any purpose in punishing the CPIO for this defiance, because he acted under the instructions of the top authorities.

Water ATM’s may help reduce scarcity to an extent

• With 82 crore people who still do not have access to piped water and 70% of water in the country contaminated by pollutants, the government is increasingly starting to accept small water enterprises such as water ATMs and community purification plants as an alternative solution to the safe drinking water challenge.

• A new report by Safe Water Network (SWN) says the government needs to spend ₹44,000 crore on 2.2 lakh small water enterprises to provide safe drinking water to about 37 crore people, mostly in urban slums where piped water infrastructure is difficult to build, and in rural areas with contaminated water sources.

• A recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) pointed out that only 18% of the rural population has access to potable piped water, failing to meet the 2017 target of 50%.

• India is ranked at 120 out of 122 countries on the Water Quality Index, said Niti Aayog, adding that 70% of the country’s water supply is contaminated.

• Community water purification plants have grown from less than 12,000 in 2014 to almost 50,000 in 2018, according to the SWN, as they have been incorporated into government planning. To reach the government’s Har Ghar Jal target of 100% piped water by 2030, almost ₹5 lakh crore of infrastructure investment will be required, says government data.

• SWN estimates that if the government is willing to spend less than 10% of that amount on small water enterprises, it could provide safe drinking water at a fraction of the cost.

::ECONOMY::

RBI initiates to develop public credit registry

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated steps to set up a wide-based digital Public Credit Registry (PCR) to capture details of all borrowers, including wilful defaulters and also the pending legal suits in order to check financial delinquencies.

• The PCR will also include data from entities like market regulator SEBI, the Corporate Affairs Ministry, Goods and Service Tax Network (GSTN) and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) to enable the banks and financial institutions to get 360 degree profile of existing and prospective borrowers on a real-time basis.

• The RBI has invited expression of interest (EOI) for developing the registry from companies with a turnover of over ₹100 crore in the last three years.

• In June this year, the RBI had announced to set up a PCR for India with a view to address information asymmetry, foster access to credit and strengthen the credit culture in the economy.

• The PCR would be the single point of mandatory reporting for all material events for each loan, notwithstanding any threshold in the loan amount or type of borrower.Currently, there are multiple granular credit information repositories in India, with each having somewhat distinct objectives and coverage.

• As per the EOI, the proposed solution should allow easy integration with ancillary information sources, like the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, SEBI, GSTN, CERSAI, utility billers, Central Fraud Registry and Wilful Defaulter/Caution/Suit Filed Lists.

• Besides, borrowers would also be able to access their own credit information and seek corrections to the credit information reported on them.

Health insurance expert panel gives recommendations to IRDA

• All health conditions arising after the inception of a health insurance policy should be covered and cannot be permanently excluded, a committee has recommended to the insurance regulator.

• This is among the key recommendations of a committee appointed to look into standardisation of exclusions under health insurance policies. The panel has submitted its report to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.

• It has said that all health conditions acquired after policy inception, other than those that are not covered under the policy contract (such as infertility and maternity), should be covered under the policy and cannot be permanently excluded.

• The working group, as part of its methodology, met various stakeholders of the health insurance industry including representatives of health insurers, general insurers, life insurers, insurance brokers, third-party administrators, agents, Ministry officials, NGOs, consumer activists, medical experts and reinsurers, and collected their views.

• The panel recommended that there should not be any permanent exclusions in the policy wordings for any specific disease condition(s), whether they are degenerative, physiological, or chronic in nature.

• The Working Group recommends that insurers may be allowed to incorporate waiting periods (duration when a claim is not admissible) for any specific disease condition(s) however to a maximum of 4 years. Waiting period for conditions namely, hypertension, diabetes, cardiac conditions may not be allowed for more than 30 days, it added.

• The working group also noted that the changes recommended in this report would have some effect on pricing of the respective products. The policy wordings would also have to be reworded and filed with the regulator.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

U.K to honour Indian soldiers who fought world war

• A sculpture in honour of Indian soldiers who fought during the First World War was unveiled on Sunday in the town of Smethwick in the West Midlands region of England on Sunday.

• Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick had commissioned the Lions of the Great War monument, which depicts a turbaned Sikh soldier, to honour the sacrifices made by millions of South Asian service personnel of all faiths who fought for Britain in the world wars and other conflicts as part of the British Indian Army.

• The 10-foot bronze statue was unveiled in Smethwick High Street to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in November 1918, also referred to as the Great War.

• “We are very proud to be bringing this memorial to honour the sacrifice of brave men who travelled thousands of miles to figh for a country that wasn’t their own,” said Jatinder Singh, president of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick.

• The monument was part of a collaboration between the gurdwara and the local Sandwell Council.

New Caledonia to go for referendum involving independence from French territory

• People in New Caledonia are deciding whether the French territory in the South Pacific should break free from the European country that claimed it in the mid-19th century.

• The polls opened on Sunday morning in a referendum that’s a milestone in the process of the archipelago’s three-decade-long decolonization one that will help define New Caledonia’s future as an independent country or as a continuing part of France.

• New Caledonia, a cluster of islands, is home to about 270,000 people. They include the native Kanaks, who represent about 40 % of the population, people of European descent (about 27 %) and others from Asian countries and Pacific islands.

• It relies on France for defense, law enforcement, foreign affairs, justice and education, yet has a large degree of autonomy. New Caledonia receives about 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in French state subsidies every year, and many fear the economy would suffer if ties are severed.

• The referendum is the result of a process that started 30 years ago to end years of violence between supporters and opponents of separating from France.

• The violence, which overall claimed more than 70 lives, prompted a 1988 deal between rival loyalist and pro-independence factions. Another agreement a decade later included plans for an independence referendum.

• If voters say no to independence Sunday, the 1998 agreement allows two more self-determination referendums to be held by 2022.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

National centre for biological sciences tracks domestication of rice molecule

• The domestication of rice can be tracked to the loss of a small RNA molecule (miR397), according to a study carried out at the National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru. This can be used to improve crops.

• Indica rice, a subspecies of Oryza sativa, was domesticated from two wild species Oryza nivara and Oryza rufipogon. Both the wild species have weak stems and lie prostrate near edges of water bodies. The process of domestication selected useful traits from these: stronger stems, absence of seed shattering, more grains per plant, aroma, colour etc.

• For differences seen to manifest in the organism (phenotype), there should be corresponding changes in the genome. However, extensive studies found that the genomes did not show variation proportional to the changes in the phenotype.

• Researchers failed to identify genes responsible for the changes observed in domesticated Indica rice as compared to its wild relatives. The answer lay in regulatory molecules known as the small RNAs.

• After studying the two wild species, the domesticated high-yielding varieties and several rice lines in between (land races) , they screened 12 and sequenced 7 ,the team identified a small RNA controlling laccases; this is named miR397.While miR397 is expressed in high levels in the wild species, it gradually reduces in intermediate forms.

::SPORTS::

Khachanov beats Djokovic to lift Paris masters title

• Karen Khachanov caused one of the shocks of the tennis year by overpowering Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-4 in the Paris Masters final to end the Serbian's remarkable spell of dominance in the men's game on Sunday.

• The 22-year-old Russian has for some time been seen as one of the rising young talents of the sport but few could have envisaged his demolition of the Serbian superstar, who was on a three-month, 22-match winning streak.

• Djokovic was expected to celebrate his return to world number one on Monday with a record-extending fifth Paris title but he went down in one hour 37 minutes amid a hail of 31 crushing winners from the Muscovite's racket.

• Khachanov, a strapping 6ft 6in huge hitter with surprisingly fleet movement around the court, took advantage of Djokovic appearing to be a little under-the-weather after a week struggling with flu-like symptoms.

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