CURRENT AFFAIRS (20-08-2022 TO 26-08-2022)

PAALAN 1000

India has taken rapid strides in reducing child mortality since 2014 from 45 per 1,000 live births to 35 per 1,000 live births in 2019.

Dr Pawar (Union Minister of State for Health) launched ‘Paalan 1000’ National Campaign and Parenting App.

WHAT IS PAALAN 1000?

The ‘Paalan 1000 – Journey of the First 1000 Days’, focuses on the cognitive developments of children in the first few years of its life.

It also includes the parenting app to focus on child health.

The app will provide practical advice to caregivers on what they can do in their everyday routine and will help clear doubts.

The app combines coaching for parents, families and other caregivers with services designed to meet the families’ basic needs.

The programme is aligned with the mission of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), emphasising responsive care and focused interventions during the first 1,000 days.

RASHTRIYA BAL SWASTHYA KARYAKRAM

Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) is a program to improve the overall quality of life of children enabling all children achieve their full potential.

It aims at early identification and early intervention for children from birth to 18 years to cover 4 ‘D’s –

Defects at birth, Deficiencies, Diseases, Development delays (including disability).

  • Children diagnosed with identified selected health conditions are provided early intervention services and follow-up care at the district level.
  • These services are provided free of cost, thus helping their families reduce out of pocket expenditure incurred on the treatment.
  • To facilitate screening of children, there is a strong convergence with:

The Ministry of Women and Child Development for screening children the age group 0 – 6 years enrolled at Anganwadi centres and the Ministry of Education for screening the children enrolled in Government and Government aided schools.

PRAVASI BHARTIYA DIWAS

The 17th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2023 will be held at Indore in January next year.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated every year on 9th January to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community in the development of India.

It also commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India on 9th January 1915.

EXERCISE PITCH BLACK

An Indian Air Force contingent has reached Australia to participate in Exercise Pitch Black 2022.

The exercise is being held in Darwin till the 8th of next month. This is a biennial, multinational exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force.

PARTICIPANTS:

The 2022 exercise is expected to run from 19 August to 6 September with 17 participating countries (9 from Asia, 4 from Europe, 2 from North America and 2 from Oceania) including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

INDIA-SOUTH EAST ASIA

As part of his visit to Thailand for the ninth India-Thailand joint commission meeting, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visited the Devasthan in Bangkok.

THE CULTURAL CONNECT

The Devasthan is the Royal Brahmin Office of the Thai Royal Court and is the official centre of Hinduism in Thailand.

India and the Southeast Asia region share a long history of cultural and commercial relations.

The classical Sanskrit and Pali texts from India carry references of the region using various names such as Kathakosha, Suvarnabhumi (the land of god) or Suvarnadvipa (the golden island), indicating that this was a region that attracted Indian merchants.

In more recent times, European and Indian scholars have referred to Southeast Asia as ‘Farther India’, ‘Greater India’, or ‘Hinduised or Indianised states’.

The Ramayana — known in Thailand as Rama Kriti (the glory of Rama) or Ramakien (the account of Rama) — has provided an outlet of cultural expression in Thailand for both the elite and the common man. Episodes from the epic are painted on the walls of Buddhist temples and enacted in dramas and ballets.

INDIA’s LOOK (NOW ACT) EAST POLICY

THE LOOK EAST POLICY OF INDIA:

In order to recover from the loss of the strategic partner –USSR (end of the Cold war 1991), India sought to build up a relationship with the USA and allies of the USA in Southeast Asia.

In this pursuit, former Prime minister of India P V Narasimha Rao launched Look East policy in 1992, to give a strategic push to India’s engagement with the South-East Asia region, to bolster its standing as a regional power and a counterweight to the strategic influence of the People’s Republic of China.

Look East policy focused on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries + Economic & Cultural Integration.

THE ACT EAST POLICY: Act East Policy focused on ASEAN countries + East Asian countries + Economic Integration + Cultural Integration + Security cooperation.

Prime minister of India highlighted 4C’s of Act East Policy.

  • Culture
  • Commerce
  • Connectivity
  • Capacity building

QUAD

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the entire Indo-Pacific region will benefit from the Quad.

He was speaking on the ‘India’s Vision of the Indo-Pacific’ at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

Indo Pacific is home to more than 64% of the global population and which contributes over 60% of world’s GDP.

About half of the global trade happens through the maritime trade routes in this region.

ABOUT QUAD:

The grouping of four democracies –India, Australia, US and Japan– is known as the quadrilateral security dialogue or quad.

AIM OF QUAD:

The aim of this grouping is to ensure a free and open international order based on the rule of law in the Indo- Pacific.

OBJECTIVES:

  • Maritime security,
  • Combating the Covid-19 crisis, especially vis-à-vis vaccine diplomacy,
  • Addressing the risks of climate change,
  • Creating an ecosystem for investment in the region and
  • Boosting technological innovation.

EVOLUTION OF QUAD:

  • Following the Indian Ocean tsunami, India, Japan, Australia, and the US created an informal alliance to collaborate on disaster relief efforts.
  • Quad as a formal group was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007.
  • However, due to Chinese resistance and reluctance shown by India, it could not move ahead.
  • Later, during the 2017 ASEAN Summits, all four former members re-joined negotiations to revive the quadrilateral alliance.
  • The Quad was upgraded to the ministerial level in September 2019.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPEECH

  • Jaishankar said the Quad is the most prominent plurilateral platform that addresses contemporary challenges and opportunities in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The energies of the Quad, are directed at a very broad range of activities. They range from:
    maritime safety and security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, cyber security, critical and emerging technologies and connectivity to education, health and even space cooperation.
  • ON INDIA CHINA RELATIONSHIP:
    He said the India-China relationship is going through an extremely difficult phase.
    Chinese and Indian troops are engaged in a prolonged standoff in Eastern Ladakh.
    However, he emphasised that the Asian Century will happen when China and India come together.

MITHILA MAKHANA

Union government has awarded Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Mithila Makhana.

ABOUT MITHILA MAKHANA AND GI TAG

Mithila Makhana or Makhan (botanical name: Euryale ferox Salisb.) is a special variety of aquatic fox nut cultivated in Mithila region of Bihar and Nepal.

Once a product gets this tag, any person or company cannot sell a similar item under that name. This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.

In Mithila, Makhana is also termed as Makhan. It is also very famous in Kojagara festival of Maithil Brahmins celebrated for newly married couples.

Makhana contains protein and fiber, along with micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.

NATIONAL AUTOMATED FINGERPRINT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM

Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) on August 17, at the two-day National Securities Strategies (NSS) Conference 2022 held in New Delhi.

ABOUT NAFIS

It is conceptualized and managed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) at the Central Fingerprint Bureau (CFPB) in New Delhi.

NAFIS project is a country-wide searchable database of crime- and criminal-related fingerprints.

The web-based application functions as a central information repository by consolidating fingerprint data from all states and Union Territories.

According to a 2020 report by the NCRB, it enables law enforcement agencies to upload, trace, and retrieve data from the database in real time on a 24×7 basis.

In April 2022, Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to identify a deceased person through NAFIS.

WOMEN IN MGNREGA

Recently, a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has submitted its recommendations w.r.t. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme.

In its report, the committee has recommended to emphasise more on women-centric work under the scheme.

ABOUT MGNREGA

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was notified in September, 2005.

In 2009, through an amendment, the name of the Act was changed to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Mandate: To provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme was created as the means to implement the Act so that the guarantee comes into effect.

MGNREGS is a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme

Concerned Ministry: Ministry of Rural Development.

SALIENT FEATURES

Legal Right to Work:

  • The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for wage employment.
  • Every rural household has the right to register under MGNREGA.
  • Also, at least one-third of the beneficiaries of the scheme have to be women.
  • There are legal provisions for allowances and compensation both in cases of failure to provide work on demand and delays in payment of wages for work undertaken.

Demand-Driven:

It is a demand-driven programme where provision of work is triggered by the demand for

work by wage-seekers.

Decentralized mode of implementation:

  • The State governments have powers to make rules and amend the concerned State scheme.
  • Gram Panchayats (GPs) are to implement at least 50 per cent of the works in terms of cost.
  • Plans and decisions regarding the nature and choice of works to be undertaken etc. are all to be made in open assemblies of the Gram Sabha and ratified by the GP.

Annual Report tabled in the Parliament:

  • An Annual Report prepared by the Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC), on the outcomes of MGNREGA is required to be presented annually by the Central Government to Parliament.
  • CEGC is a statutory body set up under Section 10 of the MGNREGA.
  • It is chaired by the Union Minister for Rural Development.

RASHTRIYA PURASKAR PORTAL

The Union Government has launched Rashtriya Puraskar Portal to bring together all the awards of the various Ministries, Departments and agencies of the government under one platform. This has been done to ensure transparency and public partnership.

Home Ministry in a statement said that this common portal facilitates every citizen or organization to nominate individuals or organizations for various awards instituted by the government.

It informed that the nominations or recommendations for the Padma Awards are open till 15th September while nominations or recommendations for Jeevan Raksha Padak will be invited till 30th September.

TOMATO FLU

A new infection dubbed tomato flu, or tomato fever, has been detected in India mostly among children younger than five, according to a report in the Lancet Respiratory Journal. The ‘tomato flu’ is caused by Coxsackievirus A 16. It belongs to Enterovirus family. The “non-life-threatening” virus was first identified in Kollam district of Kerala on May 6.

ABOUT TOMATO FLU

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

The primary symptoms of tomato flu are similar to those of chikungunya, which include high fever, rashes, and intense pain in the joints. As with other viral infections, further symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, swelling of joints, body aches, and common influenza-like symptoms, which are similar to those manifested in dengue.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?

As tomato flu is similar to chikungunya and dengue as well as hand, foot, and mouth disease, the treatment is also similar isolation, rest, plenty of fluids, and hot water sponge for the relief of irritation and rashes.

Supportive therapy of paracetamol for fever and body ache and other symptomatic treatments may be required. Young children are also prone to this infection through the use of nappies, touching unclean surfaces, and putting things directly into the mouth.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE MANAGEMENT ACT (FEMA)

The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), under the Union Finance Ministry, has recently notified updated norms (FEMA RULES 2022) for residents wanting to invest in overseas entities.

Presently, the overseas investment by a person resident in India is governed by the Foreign Exchange Management Regulations 2004 and 2015.

ABOUT FEMA

The Foreign Exchange Management Act (1999) or in short FEMA has been introduced as a replacement for earlier Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA).

Objectives –

  • To consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange,
  • To facilitate external trade and payments and
  • To promote the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.

Under FEMA, every transaction involving a non-resident and resident can be classified either

as a capital account or a current account transaction.

WHAT IS CURRENT & CAPITAL ACCOUNT TRANSACTIONS?

Current Account Transactions:

All transactions undertaken by a resident that do not alter his/her assets or liabilities, including contingent liabilities, outside India are current account transactions.

Capital account transactions:

All those transactions which are undertaken by a resident of India such that his/her assets or liabilities outside India are altered (either increased or decreased).

APPLICABILITY:

FEMA is applicable to the all parts of India. The act is also applicable to all branches, offices and agencies outside India owned or controlled by a person who is resident of India.

Who is a ‘resident’ as per FEMA?

A ‘person resident in India’ is defined in Section 2(v) of FEMA, 1999 as –

  • Barring few exceptions, a person residing in India for more than 182 days during the course of the preceding financial year.
  • Any person or body corporate registered or incorporated in India.
  • An office, branch or agency in India owned or controlled by a person resident outside India.
  • An office, branch or agency outside India owned or controlled by a person resident in India.

THE FEMA RULES, 2022

Ministry of Finance, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has undertook a comprehensive exercise to simplify the FEMA rules. The new rules will be administered by the RBI, and will subsume all existing norms pertaining to overseas investments as well as acquisition and transfer of immovable property outside India.

Restrictions on investments –

No Indian resident shall be allowed to make investments into foreign entities that are engaged in real estate activity, gambling in any form, and dealing with financial products linked to the Indian rupee without the central bank’s specific approval.

No Objection Certificate for certain category of people –

The new rules mandate they secure a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their lender or investigative agencies before making any ‘financial commitment’.

This is to make it difficult for bank defaulters and fraudsters to acquire assets abroad.

CONNECTIVITY THROUGH THE CHABAHAR PORT

The Union government has revved up its interest in using Iran’s Chabahar port to connect to Afghanistan and Central Asia for trade, with the visit of the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal to the port on August 20.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Sonowal reviewed the progress in the work on the terminal and handed over six mobile harbour cranes “to improve efficiency”.

The Chabahar plan had three main objectives — to build India’s first offshore port; to circumvent trade through Pakistan; and to find an alternative land route to Afghanistan.

A fourth strategy has also emerged wherein the government hopes to provide Central Asia with an alternate route to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The development of the Shahid Beheshti terminal in Chabahar has hit geopolitical roadblock after roadblock; the biggest issue being Iran’s relationship with western countries, especially the U.S.

BENAMI TRANSACTIONS ACT

The Supreme Court declared as “unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary” the amendments introduced to the Benami law in 2016, which apply retrospectively and can send a person to prison for three years even as it empowers the Centre to confiscate “any property” subject to a benami transaction.

WHAT ARE BENAMI TRANSACTIONS?

Benami literally means ‘without a name’. Therefore, an asset without a legal owner or a fictitious owner is called benami.

It can be a property of any kind, whether movable or immovable, acquired by way of benami transaction.

THE JUDGEMENT

A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, declared as unconstitutional Sections 3(2) and 5 introduced through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016.

WHAT IS Section 3(2):

Section 3(2) mandates three years of imprisonment for those who had entered into benami transactions between September 5, 1988 and October 25, 2016. That is, a person can be sent behind bars for a benami transaction entered into 28 years before the Section even came into existence.

Justice Ramana, held that the provision violated Article 20(1) of the Constitution. Article 20(1) mandates that no person should be convicted of an offence, which was not in force “at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence”.

Section 5 of the 2016 Amendment Act said that “any property, which is subject matter of benami transaction, shall be liable to be confiscated by the Central Government”. The court held that this provision cannot be applied retrospectively.

MOONLIGHTING

Food delivery startup Swiggy recently announced an “industry-first” policy of allowing its employees to take up gigs or projects outside of their regular employment at the company, during the hours away from work. Swiggy calls these new norms the “moonlighting” policy.

ABOUT MOONLIGHTING

Moonlighting is the act of working at an extra job beyond regular working hours, usually without the knowledge of the employer. Since the side job was mostly at nighttime or on weekends, it was referred to as moonlighting.

The term gained popularity when workers in the US started seeking a second job beyond their regular 9-to-5 work for additional income.

Moonlighting as an issue has been controversial, and seemingly commenting on the new Swiggy policy, Wipro chairman Rishad Premji tweeted on August 22, “There is a lot of chatter about people moonlighting in the tech industry. This is cheating – plain and simple.”

NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT

The coverage under the NFSA is still decided by the population figures of the 2011 census.

The SC ordered the Union government to re-determine the NFSA coverage in the States and Union Territories after considering the population increase between 2011 and 2021 so that benefits were not restricted to beneficiaries identified back in 2011.

“The right to food is a fundamental right available under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the Supreme Court noted.

WHAT IS FOOD SECURITY?

The basic concept of food security globally is to ensure that all people, at all times, should get access to the basic food for their active and healthy life.

The Indian Constitution does not have any explicit provision regarding right to food.

However, the right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.

ABOUT NFSA

The issue of ‘food security’ at the household is continuously being addressed by the Government since long, through the Public Distribution System and the Targeted Public Distribution System.

The Act legally entitles up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System. About two thirds of the population therefore is covered under the Act to receive highly subsidized foodgrains.

As a step towards women empowerment, the eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above is mandated to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards under the Act.

WHAT HAPPENS IN CASE OF NON SUPPLY?

In case of non-supply of the entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals to entitled persons under NFSA, such persons shall be entitled to receive such food security allowance from the concerned State Government to be paid to each person.

Responsibilities under NFSA –

NFSA defines the joint responsibility of the Centre and State/UT Government.

While the Centre is responsible for allocation of required foodgrains to States/UTs, the States/UTs are responsible for effective implementation of the Act.

The work of identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs.

PRICE OF FOODGRAINS AND BENEFICIARIES

The NFSA provides a legal right to persons belonging to “eligible households” to receive foodgrains at subsidised price– rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg and coarse grain at Rs 1/kg — under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

The term “eligible households” comprises two categories — Priority Households, and families covered by the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

Priority households are entitled to receive 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month, whereas AAY households are entitled to 35 kg per month at the same prices.

Under Schedule-I of the Act, these subsidised prices were fixed for “a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act”.

However, the government has yet not revised the subsidised prices.