- Melamine is an organic base chemical most commonly found in the form of white crystals rich in nitrogen.
- Melamine is widely used in plastics, adhesives, countertops, dishware, and whiteboards.
- Companies using the milk for further production (e.g. of powdered infant formula) normally check the protein level through a test measuring nitrogen content.
- The addition of melamine increases the nitrogen content of the milk and therefore its apparent protein content.
- Melamine contamination is found in a number of different brands of powdered infant formula, in one brand of a frozen yoghurt dessert and in one brand of canned coffee drink.
- Addition of melamine into food is not approved by the FAO/WHO, or by any national authorities.
Global Talent Competitiveness Index
- Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI), is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
- It is released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Tata Communications and Adecco Group.
- The report measures levels of Global Talent Competitiveness by looking at 68 variables such as ease of hiring, gender earnings gap, and prevalence of training in firms.
UN Arms Trade Treaty
- United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is aimed at regulating the global arms trade.
- ATT has the ambitious aim of responding to the international concern that the $70 billion a year trade in conventional weapons leaves a trail of atrocities in its wake.
- The treaty calls for the international sale of weapons to be linked to the human rights records of buyers.
- It requires countries to establish regulations for selling conventional weapons.
- Conventional weapons covered by the UN Arms Trade Treaty include tanks and other armoured combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters, naval warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms.
- The treaty does not regulate the domestic sale or use of weapons in any country.
- The treaty also seeks to prevent conventional military weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists or organized criminal groups and to stop deals that would violate UN arms embargos.
- India has not signed the treaty, recently the US has pulled out itself from the treaty.
Mobilise Your City (MYC)
- It was launched at 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) meeting in December, 2015. India and France have signed an implementation agreement on “MOBILISE YOUR CITY” (MYC).
- The MYC aims to reduce the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions related to urban transport by implementing urban mobility plans at local level and to help India at national level to improve their sustainable transport policy.
PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation)
- It is a multi-purpose and multi-modal platform that is aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
- The PRAGATI platform uniquely bundles three latest technologies: Digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology.
- It is a three-tier system (PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries of the States)
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
- The Prime Minister dedicated the 6th International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), South Asia Regional Center (ISARC) to the nation. The Institute is built at the campus of National Seed Research and Training Center (NSRTC) in Varanasi.
- The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is an international agricultural research and training organization known for its work in developing rice varieties that contributed to the Green Revolution in the 1960s.
- Aim: The Institute, established in 1960 aims to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability of rice farming.
- It is also the largest non-profit agricultural research center in Asia.
Geographical Indication (GI) tag
- Kandhamal Haldi a variety of turmeric indigenous to southern Odisha.
- Coorg Arabica coffee: grown specifically in the region of Kodagu district in Karnataka.
- Sirsi Supari of Karnataka– Sirsi Supari is the first product from the Arecanut sector to get a GI tag.
- The Marayur Jaggery largely produced in the regions of Marayur and Kanthallur grama panchayats of Kerala.
- Kadaknath chicken meat from Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh.
- French finance minister Bruno Le Maire announced the introduction of a GAFA tax—named after Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon—on large technology and internet companies in France from 1 January 2019.
- The French proposal is set to target only those profitable companies that have heavy annual global revenue.
- The rationale behind devising a separate framework to tax online service providers is this: existing tax norms that are framed envisaging brick and mortar business models are not suitable to regulate online services. This is because the digital economy is characterized by a unique system of value creation resulting from a combination of factors such as sales functions, algorithms and personal information of users.
- What distinguishes technology companies from traditional businesses is user participation in creating value, which, in turn, translates into revenue.
- Although using consumer data to improve businesses is not exclusive to the digital economy, the unique ability of digital businesses lies in their power to analyse big data collected via constant user interaction and data mining.
The Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN)
- It has been set up vide Resolution No. F-7-2/96-Fin-II dated 13/1/1997 and registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, as a Society.
- The RAN was set up to provide financial assistance to patients, living below poverty line and who are suffering from major life-threatening diseases, to receive medical treatment at any of the super speciality Hospitals/Institutes or other Government hospitals.
- The financial assistance to such patients is released in the form of ‘one-time grant’, which is released to the Medical Superintendent of the Hospital in which the treatment has been/is being received.
Public Credit Registry
- A public credit registry is an information repository that collates all loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers. A credit repository helps banks distinguish between a bad and a good borrower and accordingly offer attractive interest rates to good borrowers and higher interest rates to bad borrowers.
- The move is based on the recommendations of a committee, headed by Y.M. Deosthalee. PCR will address issues such as information asymmetry, improve access to credit and strengthen the credit culture among consumers. It can also address the bad loan problem staring at banks, as corporate debtors will not be able to borrow across banks without disclosing existing debt. A PCR may also help raise India’s rank in the global ease of doing business index.
- The committee suggested the registry should capture all loan information and borrowers be able to access their own history. Data is to be made available to stakeholders such as banks, on a need-to-know basis.
- PCR in other countries now include other transactional data such as payments to utilities like power and telecom for retail consumers and trade credit data for businesses. Regularity in making payments to utilities and trade creditors provides an indication of the credit quality of such customers.
Blue Flag certification
- The tag given to environment-friendly and clean beaches, equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
- The Chandrabhaga beach on the Konark coast of Odisha is the first in Asia to get the Blue Flag certification.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched the country’s first electronic surveillance satellite, EMISAT.
- It was launched on-board PSLV-C45.
- EMISAT is an advanced electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite jointly developed by ISRO-DRDO. It is meant for electromagnetic spectrum measurements.
- It is modelled after a famous Israeli spy satellite called SARAL (Satellite with ARgos and ALtika).
- The main capability of EMISAT is in signal intelligence — intercepting signals broadcasted by communication systems, radars, and other electronic systems.
- The Virtual ID is a random 16-digit number.
- The ID can be generated as many times as possible.
- The older ID gets automatically cancelled once a fresh one is generated.
- Users can go to the UIDAI website to generate their virtual ID which will be valid for a defined period of time, or till the user decides to change it.
- The ID, along with the biometrics of the user, would give any authorised agency, like a mobile company, limited details like name, address and photograph, which are enough for any verification.
- Agencies that undertake authentication would not be allowed to generate the Virtual ID on behalf of the user.
- UIDAI also introduced the concept of ‘limited KYC’, which will provide need-based or limited details of a user to an authorised agency providing a particular service.
- One’s Aadhaar number cannot be derived from the Virtual ID that is generated.
Prompt Corrective Action (PCA)
- RBI’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) Framework is a set of guidelines for banks that are weak in terms of identified indicators including – poor asset quality, insufficient capital and insufficient profit or losses.
- The PCA is an early intervention package or resolution guideline by the RBI when a bank turns weak in terms of the identified indicators.
- The Reserve Bank has specified certain regulatory trigger points, as a part of prompt corrective action (PCA) Framework, in terms of three parameters, i.e. capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR), net non-performing assets (NPA) and Return on Assets (RoA), for initiation of certain structured and discretionary actions in respect of banks hitting such trigger points.
- The PCA framework is applicable only to commercial banks and not extended to co-operative banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and FMIs.
National Security Advisory Board (NSAB)
- The National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) consists of a group of eminent national security experts outside of the government.
- Members are usually senior retired officials, civilian as well as military, academics and distinguished members of civil society drawn from and having expertise in Internal and External Security, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Science & Technology and Economic Affairs.
- The National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) has been reconstituted with P S Raghavan, former Ambassador to Russia, as its head.
Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
- UHC means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. It includes the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
- Achieving UHC is one of the targets the nations of the world set when adopting the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.
There are many things that are not included in the scope of UHC:
- UHC does not mean free coverage for all possible health interventions, regardless of the cost, as no country can provide all services free of charge on a sustainable basis.
- UHC is not just about health financing. It encompasses all components of the health system: health service delivery systems, the health workforce, health facilities and communications networks, health technologies, information systems, quality assurance mechanisms, and governance and legislation.
- UHC is not only about ensuring a minimum package of health services, but also about ensuring a progressive expansion of coverage of health services and financial protection as more resources become available.
- UHC is not only about individual treatment services, but also includes population-based services such as public health campaigns, adding fluoride to water, controlling mosquito breeding grounds, and so on.
- Bharatmala Project is the second largest highways construction project in the country since NHDP, under which almost 50,000 km or highway roads were targeted across the country.
- It includes development of Economic Corridors, Inter Corridors and Feeder Routes, National Corridor Efficiency Improvement, Border and International connectivity roads, Coastal and Port connectivity roads and Green-field expressways.
- Improvement in efficiency of existing corridors through development of Multimodal Logistics Parks and elimination of choke point
- Enhance focus on improving connectivity in North East and leveraging synergies with Inland Waterways
- Emphasis on use of technology & scientific planning for Project Preparation and Asset Monitoring
- Delegation of powers to expedite project delivery – Phase I to complete by 2022
- Improving connectivity in the North East
Brow antlered deer
- Sangai, Brow antlered deer, Dancing Deer:
- Status: State animal of Manipur, Schedule-1 of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Endangered on IUCN Red List.
- The brow-antlered deer is found in Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur. It is largely seen over the floating biomass, locally called “phumdi” in the South Eastern part of Loktak Lake inside the park. Phumdi is the most important and unique part of Sangai’s habitat.
- Sangai faces threat from steadily degenerating habitat of phumdi as a result of continuous inundation and flooding caused due to artificial reservoir. Water quality of the reservoir is degrading due to pollution and stoppage of nutrient supply. There is also invasion of non-native plants like Paragrass.
- Sangai also faces threats of diseases from the livestock, inbreeding depression and poaching
Biodiversity Heritage Sites
- (BHS) are well defined areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems – terrestrial, coastal and inland waters and, marine having rich biodiversity comprising of any one or more of the following components: richness of wild as well as domesticated species or intra-specific categories, high endemism, presence of rare and threatened species, keystone species, species of evolutionary significance, wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or their varieties, past pre-eminence of biological components represented by fossil beds and having significant cultural, ethical or aesthetic values and are important for the maintenance of cultural diversity, with or without a long history of human association with them.
- Under Section 37 of Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BDA) the State Government in consultation with local bodies may notify in the official gazette, areas of biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS).
- It is a programme initiated by Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality. The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged.
- All the courses are interactive, prepared by the best teachers in the country and are available, free of cost to the residents in India.
- SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.
- In order to ensure best quality content are produced and delivered, nine National Coordinators have been appointed. In that IGNOU is for out of the school students.
Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM)
- Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) was rolled out by the Ministry of Labour and Employment
- The unorganised workers mostly engaged as home based workers, street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washer men, rickshaw pullers, landless labourers, own account workers, agricultural workers, construction workers, beedi workers, handloom workers, leather workers, audio- visual workers and similar other occupations whose monthly income is Rs 15,000/ per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the scheme. They should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Further, he/she should not be an income tax payer.
Following are the salient Features of PM-SYM:
- Minimum Assured Pension:Each subscriber under the PM-SYM, shall receive minimum assured pension of Rs 3000/- per month after attaining the age of 60 years.
- Family Pension:During the receipt of pension, if the subscriber dies, the spouse of the beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension received by the beneficiary as family pension. Family pension is applicable only to spouse.
- If a beneficiary has given regular contribution and died due to any cause (before age of 60 years), his/her spouse will be entitled to join and continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or exit the scheme as per provisions of exit and withdrawal.
Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC)
- SFAC is an exclusive Society focused on increasing incomes of small and marginal farmers through aggregation and development of agribusiness.
- SFAC has pioneered the formation and growth of Farmer Producer Organizations/Farmer Producer Companies.
- SFAC offers Schemes like Equity Grant and Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme to FPCs to improve availability of working capital and development of business activities.
- SFAC is also implementing the National Agriculture Market Electronic Trading (e-Nam) platform.
Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary
- It is a protected area located in the state of Assam.
- Indian Rhino Vision 2020 aims at increasing the number and range of rhinos in Assam through wild-to-wild translocations from Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to potential Protected Areas including Manas National Park, Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary, Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
- The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international organization which conducts agricultural research for rural development, headquartered in Patancheru (Hyderabad) with several regional centers (Bamako (Mali), Nairobi (Kenya)) and research stations (Niamey (Niger), Kano (Nigeria), Lilongwe (Malawi), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)).
- Since its inception, host country India has granted a special status to ICRISAT as a UN Organization operating in the Indian Territory making it eligible for special immunities and tax privileges.
Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
- It is a payment system launched by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It facilitates the fund transfer between two bank accounts through a smartphone. It converts multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
- The unique feature of UPI is that it immediate money transfer through mobile devices round the clock 24*7 and 365 days. Also, a single mobile application may be used for accessing different bank accounts. It may also be used for Utility Bill Payments, Over the Counter Payments and Barcode (Scan and Pay) based payments.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICO)
- ICOs are a type of crowdfunding or crowd investing tool conducted entirely on the blockchain. Unlike an IPO, which is governed by SEBI regulations, there is no regulator for this kind of crowd sourcing in India.
- In an ICO, a quantity of cryptocurrency is sold in the form of “tokens” (“coins”) to speculators or investors, in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP)
- It is a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of a country’s financial sector. FSAP assessments are the joint responsibility of the IMF and World Bank in developing economies and emerging markets and of the IMF alone in advanced economies.
- The FSAP includes two major components: a financial stability assessment, which is the responsibility of the IMF, and a financial development assessment, the responsibility of the World Bank.
- To date, more than three-quarters of the institutions’ member countries have undergone assessments.