Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:
Today Current Affairs: 15th September 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
- The inflation data:
- Supplementary Grants:
- Parliament has passed the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2020 and the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2020:
- Other important current affairs:
1.The inflation data:
The inflation data for the month of August 2020 was released. The inflation data includes retail inflation and wholesale inflation data.
- The retail inflation is measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- The wholesale price-based inflation is measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
- The retail inflation growth dipped to 6.69% in the month of August. It was at 6.73% in July 2020.
- However, the retail inflation continued to grow beyond the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) upper margin of 6%.
- The Central government has mandated the RBI to keep inflation within the range of 4±2%.
- This inflation range (4% within a band of +/- 2%) was recommended by the committee headed by Urjit Patel in 2014.
- The growth in retail inflation was primarily due to a rise in meat and fish prices that saw a 16.50% on-year rise in August.
- The Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) or the inflation in the food basket eased to 9.05% in the month of August.
- It was at 9.27% in July 2020.
- The wholesale price-based inflation rose to 0.16% in August as food items and manufactured products turned costlier.
- The WPI inflation was in the negative territory for four straight months — April (-) 1.57%, May (-) 3.37%, June (-) 1.81% and July (-) 0.58%.
- Inflation in food articles during August stood at 3.84%. However, fuel and power inflation fell 9.68% in August.
- The difference between WPI (food) and CPI (food) shows the supply side issues due to several lockdowns at the regional level.
The Centre has sought Parliament approval for a gross additional expenditure of ₹2.35 lakh crore for 2020-21.
- The Minister of Finance presented the first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for this financial year in the Lok Sabha.
- Out of the gross additional expenditure of Rs 2.35 lakh crore, Rs 1.67 lakh crore is the net cash outgo and Rs 68,868 crore is matched by savings of the Ministries/Departments or by enhanced receipts/recoveries.
- Due to the emergency situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s supplementary demand includes additional allocations to pay for:
- Relief measures announced as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana in March, 2020.
- These include insurance schemes, food security, cash transfer, help to small companies for paying employees etc.
- Aatmanirbhar Bharat stimulus package announced in May, 2020.
- The package is expected to focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws.
- Grants-in-aid for the State Disaster Response Funds, in accordance with the interim recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission.
- The government has decided to treat COVID-19 as a “notified disaster” as defined in Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- The Centre had not allocated any funds for bank recapitalisation in Budget 2020-21, but the economic impact of the lockdown led the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to announce in July that infusing money into banks had become necessary.
- The allocation will not involve cash outgo, as the money is being raised through government securities.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme etc which is suffering from a fund crunch.
- Supplementary Grant: It is granted when the amount authorised by the Parliament through the appropriation act for a particular service for the current financial year is found to be insufficient for that year.
- It is specified by Article 115 of the constitution of India, along with Additional and Excess Grants.
- In addition to the budget that contains the ordinary estimates of income and expenditure for one financial year, various other grants are made by the Parliament under extraordinary or special circumstances.
- Apart from Supplementary Grants, these include:
- Additional Grant: It is granted when a need has arisen during the current financial year for additional expenditure upon some new service not contemplated in the budget for that year.
- Excess Grant: It is granted when money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amount granted for that service in the budget for that year. It is voted by the Lok Sabha after the financial year.
- Before the demands for excess grants are submitted to the Lok Sabha for voting, they must be approved by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
- Vote of Credit: It is granted for meeting an unexpected demand upon the resources of India when on account of the magnitude or the indefinite character of the service, the demand cannot be stated with the details ordinarily given in a budget. Hence, it is like a blank cheque given to the Executive by the Lok Sabha.
- Exceptional Grant: It is granted for a special purpose and forms no part of the current service of any financial year.
- Token Grant: It is granted when funds to meet the proposed expenditure on a new service can be made available by reappropriation.
- Demand for the grant of a token sum (of Re 1) is submitted to the vote of the Lok Sabha and if assented, funds are made available.
An announcement by an international team of astronomers about the discovery of phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus triggered global excitement about the possibility of the presence of lifeforms on the neighbouring planet.
- In a paper published in Nature Astronomy, a team of scientists have reported traces of phosphine in a concentration of approximately 20 parts per billion, thousands to millions of times more than what could otherwise be expected.
- Apart from being produced in industrial processes, phosphine, a colourless but smelly gas, is known to be made only by some species of bacteria that survive in the absence of oxygen.
- This is the most credible evidence yet for the possibility of life away from Earth. Scientists say it is more significant, for example, than the discovery of water on the Moon or Mars.
- The finding can further ignite interest in space missions to Venus. In fact, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is also planning a mission to Venus, tentatively called Shukrayaan, in the near future. As of now, the plan is still on the drawing board.
- There are several things that make life unsustainable on that planet.
- The temperature of Venus is too high, and its atmosphere is highly acidic, just two of the things that would make life impossible.
- But Scientists also suggest that this phosphine could be remnants from a time when Venus was a much more hospitable place.
4. Parliament has passed the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2020 and the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2020:
The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2020 seeks to repeal the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 and to set up a National Commission for Homoeopathy.
- The Commission for Homoeopathy will consist of 20 members which will include a Chairperson, the President of the Homoeopathy Education Board, the Director-General of National Institute of Homoeopathy, the President of the Medical Assessment and Rating Board for Homoeopathy in addition to other members.
- The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2020 seeks to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and set up a National Commission for Indian System of Medicine.
- The Commission will consist of 29 members including a Chairperson, the President of the Board of Ayurveda, President of the Board of Unani, Siddha, and Sowa-Rigpa, in addition to other members.
- The two bills also propose a constitution of Advisory Councils for Homoeopathy as well as for Indian System of Medicine.
- These Councils will be the primary platform through which the states and union territories will put forth their views and concerns before the two Commissions.
- The Advisory Councils will also suggest measures to the Commission to determine and maintain standards of medical education in the country.
- The bills also envisage a National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to both undergraduate and Post-Graduate courses of Homoeopathy and for various disciplines of Indian System of Medicine.
Other important current affairs:
1. Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports informed Rajya Sabha about steps taken for promotion of the sports of Kabaddi and Kho Kho.
- Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India and Kho Kho Federation of India have been given government recognition to promote the sports of Kabaddi and Kho Kho in the country.
- They have been provided with the admissible financial assistance and other support under the various Schemes of the Ministry and the Sports Authority of India.
- Further, both Kabaddi and Kho Kho are part of the Khelo India Youth Games.
- Kabaddi and Kho Kho are also included in the list of games/sports which qualify the meritorious sportspersons for recruitment to Group ‘C’ posts in Central Government offices.
2. The USA announced sanctions, including asset freezes and visa bans, against two officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their investigation into alleged war crimes by the USA forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Afghanistan since 2003.
- The USA’s Stand: Not only sanctions against officials, earlier the USA criticized the ICC.
- The USA has considered the ICC a threat to USA sovereignty and announced the strict punitive measures that are generally reserved for use against terror groups and those accused of abusing human rights.
- USA had never ratified the “Rome Statute”, which created the ICC in 1998, and thus is not subject to its rulings.
- The USA administration also called ICC a thoroughly broken and corrupted institution.
- ICC’s Stand on USA Sanctions: An unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings.
- It stands firmly by its staff and officials and remains unwavering in its commitment to discharging, independently and impartially, the mandate laid down in its founding treaty, the Rome Statute.
3. According to recent information shared by the Union Minister for Steel in Lok Sabha, Indian steel companies including the public sector steel companies have consistently enhanced their capacities, production and sales including exports over the years.
- India was a net exporter of steel in 2019-20 and during the period of April-August, 2020, steel exports from India have increased by more than 153% in comparison to the same period in 2019-20.
- Capacity for domestic crude steel production has been expanded from 109.85 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) in 2014-15 to 142.29 MTPA in 2019-20.
- Crude steel production has gone up from 88.98 MTPA in 2014-15 to 109.14 MTPA in 2019-20.
- These improvements can be attributed to the continuous efforts of skill training and government initiatives in the country.
4. The Ministry of Tourism has undertaken the development of tourism-related infrastructure and facilities at various Buddhist sites in the country under its flagship schemes of Swadesh Darshan & PRASHAD.
- Swadesh Darshan Scheme: It has included Buddhist circuit and Spiritual circuit along its 13 thematic circuits under which Buddhist sites are being promoted.
- PRASHAD Scheme: 30 projects for development of infrastructure have also been undertaken under the PRASHAD Scheme.
- Iconic Tourist Sites: Buddhist Sites at Bodhgaya, Ajanta & Ellora have been identified to be developed as Iconic Tourist Sites (aimed at enhancing India’s soft power).
- Buddhist Conclave: Buddhist Conclave is organised every alternate year with the objective of promoting India as a Buddhist Destination and major markets around the globe.
- Diversity of Languages: Signages have been installed in the Chinese language at Buddhist monuments in Uttar Pradesh and in Sinhala language (the official language of Sri Lanka) at Sanchi monuments in Madhya Pradesh.
5.The researchers from the City University of Hong Kong have produced a laser-induced form of graphene masks that inactivate the coronavirus species.
- Graphene Mask and Coronaviruses:
- Initial tests deactivated two coronavirus species.
- The researchers are also planning to test this mask on the Covid-19 (SARS-Cov-2) virus.
- Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
- The researchers also tested it on E Coli (bacteria), which showed an antibacterial efficiency of around 80%. The efficiency can be raised to almost 100% with exposure to sunlight for 10 minutes.
- Graphene is known for antibacterial properties.
- All carbon-containing materials, such as cellulose or paper, can be converted into graphene. The researchers described the production of laser-induced graphene as a “green technique.”
- It is reusable. Can also be produced at low cost. It also resolves the problems of sourcing raw materials and disposing of non-biodegradable masks.
6. In Japan, Yoshihide Suga was elected as the new head of Japan’s ruling, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Suga received 377 votes in the Party election to pick a successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced last month that he would resign due to health problems.
- Once he formally takes over, Suga will serve out Abe’s remaining term as party chief until September 2021.
- Suga is currently the chief Cabinet secretary of Abe’s government and he will then be confirmed as Prime Minister by a special session of the country’s parliament on Wednesday.
7. International Day of Democracy is being observed on 15 September.
- In 2007 the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe 15 September as the International Day of Democracy with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights enshrines a host of political rights and civil liberties underpinning meaningful democracies.
- The link between democracy and human rights is captured in article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
8. India has been elected as the member of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW), a body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
- India will be a member of the prestigious body for four years from 2021 to 2025.
- The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
- A functional commission of the ECOSOC, it was established by ECOSOC resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946.
- It promotes women’s rights, highlights the reality of women’s lives throughout the world and helps in shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.45 member states of the United Nations serve as members of the Commission at any one time.