This post covers relevant news from national dailies and government releases for aspirants of examinations like UPSC IAS, CDS, SSC CGL, NDA, etc. It is highly useful for both, revision and awareness purposes.
National Important Current Affairs – 13 September 2018
■ The revered festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Ganeshotsav, is being celebrated across the nation today which marks the day lord Ganesh was born. The day is celebrated with much aplomb in various parts of the country, where people come together to partake in the festival. Idols are brought home, arrangements are made for 10 days.
Lord Ganesh is considered as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. The festival, that starts from today – Ganesh Chaturthi (September 13) will end after 10 days on Anant Chaturdashi, also known as Ganesh Visarjan day.
■ The government has announced a new umbrella policy ‘Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan’ (PM-AASHA) in the Cabinet meeting, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM-AASHA is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018.
It is an Rs 15,053-crore procurement policy to implement the PM-AASHA in the next two financial years, of which Rs 6,250 crore will be spent this year.
- Under the PM-AASHA, states would be allowed to choose from three schemes — the existing Price Support Scheme (PSS), newly designed Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS) and Pilot of Private Procurement Stockist Scheme (PPSS)– to undertake procurement when prices of commodities fall below the MSP level.
- The credit line for procurement agencies has been enhanced by providing an additional government guarantee of Rs 16,550 crore, taking the total to Rs 45,550 crore.
- Under the PDPS, the government will pay to growers the difference between the MSP and monthly average price of oilseeds quoted in the wholesale market. This would be implemented for up to 25 per cent of the oilseeds production in a state.
- The price difference will be made to pre-registered farmers selling the produce in the notified market yard through a transparent auction process. This scheme does not involve any physical procurement of crops and the central government will give support for the PDPS as per the norms. The government has also made a mention of taking a cue from the Madhya Pradesh government’s Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY) for oilseed farmers.
Under the new policy, the states will also have an option to choose the existing Price Support Scheme (PSS), under which central agencies procure commodities covered under the MSP policy when prices fall below the MSP.
The emphasis is on enhancing productivity, reducing the cost of cultivation and strengthening post-harvesting management, including market structure. Under the MSP policy, the government fixes the rates for 23 notified crops grown in kharif and rabi seasons.
■ The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has also approved a proposal for electrification of the remaining 13,000 route kilometres of railway tracks at a cost of Rs 12,134.5 crore. The remaining un-electrified broad gauge routes comprises 108 sections, covering 13,675 route kilometers (16,540 track kilometers). The electrification is likely to be completed by 2021-22.
Note that: The major trunk routes on the railway network are electrified and operational.
- This proposed electrification is mainly for missing links and last mile connectivity, will increase the operational efficiency, enhance line capacity and improve the average speed of trains.
- Presently, around 2/3rds of freight and more than half of passenger traffic in Indian Railways move on electric traction.
- After the planned electrification, there will be an estimated reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the consumption of high-speed diesel oil by about 2.83 billion litres per annum.
■ Senior BJP leader L K Advani has been renominated as the Chairman of Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha. He represents Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency from Gujarat.
About Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha: It formulates Code of Conduct for members and suggest amendments to it from time to time. It also oversee moral and ethical conduct of Members. It examines complaints related to any unethical conduct by members of Lower House of Parliament. It can also initiate suo motu investigation into matters related to unethical conduct of a member and make recommendations, as it may deem fit.
■ Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) is gearing up to undertake sea trials of India’s first missile tracking ship in October.
The VC 11184 will be the first of its kind ocean surveillance ship being built as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s strategic weapons programme. Its induction will put India in the elite of club of a few countries that have such a sophisticated ocean surveillance ship.
■ The Ministry of Health has outlawed the manufacture for sale or distribution of 328 fixed-dose combinations (FDC) drugs with immediate effect under Section 26 A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. It has also restricted the manufacture, sale or distribution of six other FDCs subject to certain conditions.
Note that: The FDCs are two or more drugs combined in a fixed ratio into a single dosage form.
- This order was previously contested by the drug companies in the Supreme Court. Complying with the Supreme Court verdict in December 2017, an expert panel was formed by the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB).
- Its report to the Centre, had stated that there is no therapeutic justification for the ingredients contained in 328 FDCs and that these FDCs may involve risk to human beings.
- The Board also recommended that it is necessary to prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of these FDCs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 in the larger public interest.
■ The Tamil Nadu State Government has issued an order banning manufacture, sale and possession of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or e-Cigarettes with immediate effect in the state. The ban covers distribution, trade, display, marketing, advertisement, use, import and possession of e-cigarettes as well. The Tamil Nadu government has already banned chewable tobacco products.
Note that: States of Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have already prohibited the manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDS or e-cigarettes.
About ENDS or e-cigarette: Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) are devices that heat the solution to create an aerosol, which also frequently contains flavours, usually dissolved into propylene glycol and glycerin. These devices do not burn or use toacco leaves but instead vaporise solution, which user then inhales (This process is called as vaping). The main constituents of vaporise solution are nicotine, propylene glycol (with or without glycerol and flavouring agents). Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are the most common prototype of ENDS.
Those maximum at risk from e-cigarattes are children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age. ENDS solutions and emissions contain harmful chemicals and toxicants such as nicotine, addictive component of tobacco products. They also contain harmful metals, including lead, chromium and nickel and chemicals like formaldehyde with concentrations equal to or greater than traditional cigarettes. The Use of ENDS may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 13 September 2018
■ Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has cautioned that the next crisis in India’s banking sector could arise from the loans given to the unorganised micro and small businesses, under MUDRA loans, and the credit extended through the Kisan credit card.
In a note on NPAs, Rajan has also cautioned the government to refrain from setting ambitious credit targets or waiving loans. He also flagged the Credit Guarantee Scheme for MSMEs, run by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), calling it “a growing contingent liability” that needs to be examined with urgency.
- Note that: A large number of bad loans originated in the period 2006-2008 when economic growth was strong the banks are more prone to make mistakes.
- About the extent of bad loans: The NPAs of the 38 listed banks collectively crossed Rs 10.17 lakh crore in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal, with the 21 public sector banks (PSBs) accounting for the bulk of it. Besides, PSBs have collectively written-off over Rs 1,154 crore in NPAs in the last fiscal till December 31, which was a 103% jump from the amount written off in 2016-17.
About MUDRA Loans: The MUDRA loans are offered under the Prime Minister Mudra Yojana launched in 2015 by the NDA government. A total of Rs. 6.37 lakh crore has been disbursed under the scheme by public and private sector banks, regional rural banks and micro-finance institutions to date, as per data from the MUDRA website. A total of Rs 6.37 lakh crore has been disbursed under the MUDRA scheme by public and private sector banks, regional rural banks and micro-finance institutions till date, as per data from the Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) website.
About the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) scheme: The PMMY Scheme was launched in April 2015, to refinance collateral-free loans given by the lenders to small borrowers. PMMY is a flagship scheme of Government of India to enable a small enterprise to come into the formal financial system and get affordable credit to run his/ her business. Any Indian Citizen who has a business plan for a non-farm sector income generating activity will be facilitated by the MUDRA Bank (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Bank) for credit needs of upto Rs 10 Lakh. The MUDRA bank would be responsible for regulating and refinancing all MFIs which are in the business of lending to MSME.
Under the aegis of PMMY, MUDRA has created the following categories:
- Shishu: covering loans upto 50,000/-
- Kishore: covering loans above 50,000/- and upto 5 lakh
- Tarun: covering loans above 5 lakh and upto 10 lakh
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 13 September 2018 “
Q1.Which state government has recently signed a pact with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for ethanol plant?
- A) Haryana
- B) Himachal Pradesh
- C) Punjab
- D) Uttar Pradesh
Q2.Which city is host to the first-ever BIMSTEC military exercise “MILEX-18”?
- A) Hyderabad
- B) Pune
- C) Chennai
- D) Bhubaneswar
Q3.Which Indian software company has inked deal with Australian Open as official digital innovation partner?
- A) TCS
- B) Infosys
- C) Wipro
- D) HCL
Q4.India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge “Bogibeel” will come up over which river?
- A) Ganga
- B) Yamuna
- C) Brahmaputra
- D) Godavari
Q5.Which country is host to the 2018 Global Summit on Climate Action?
- A) United States
- B) Brazil
- C) United Kingdom
- D) France
Answer these questions in the comments below. We encourage you to discuss your thoughts on the news and issues mentioned in today’s current affairs post. The idea is to promote healthy discussions on interesting issues to make preparation fun. Have a good day!