Polity & Governance
- Non Resident Indians (NRIs) can now join and subscribe to NPS online through eNPS
- 1st Meeting of National Committee on Ramayana Circuit & Krishna Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Scheme held
- Yellow Fever Vaccination facility inaugurated at Tuticorin
- Judicial commission on OROP gets 6-month extension
- RBI simplifies registration process for new NBFCs
Environment & Ecology
- Giant African Snails on quiet rampage in Kerala
- India, South Korea launch platform ‘Korea Plus’ to promote investments
- India-Bangladesh waterways transit inaugurated in Dhaka
Defence & Security Issues
- Indigenous HTT-40 trainer aircraft makes inaugural flight
Science & Technology
- Very hot drinks ‘probably’ cause cancer: UN agency
Polity & Governance
Non Resident Indians (NRIs) can now join and subscribe to NPS online through eNPS
The Centre has announced that non-resident Indians (NRIs) can now open National Pension Scheme (NPS) accounts online.
- So far, NRIs could only make paper-based applications to banks. NRIs can now open NPS Accounts online if they have Aadhaar Card or PAN card.
- In addition, NRIs will get to open these NPS accounts on both repatriable and non-repatriable
- Both repatriable and non-repatriable schemes will greatly appeal to NRIs who intend to return to India after their employment abroad, in view of their attractive returns, low cost, flexibility and their being regulated by the PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority).
- India has the second-largest diaspora in the world, with around 29 million people living in over 200 countries and out of these 25% live in the Gulf countries.
About National Pension System:
The National Pension System (NPS) was launched in 2004 with the objective of providing retirement income to all the citizens.
- NPS aims to institute pension reforms and to inculcate the habit of saving for retirement amongst the citizens.
- Initially, NPS was introduced for the new government recruits (except armed forces). With effect from 1stMay, 2009, NPS has been provided for all citizens of the country including the unorganised sector workers on voluntary basis.
- Under the NPS, the individual contributes to his retirement account and also his employer can also co-contribute for the social security/welfare of the individual.
- The subscriber will be allotted a unique Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN). This unique account number will remain the same for the rest of subscriber’s life. This unique PRAN can be used from any location in India.
About Swavalamban Scheme:
- Additionally, to encourage people from the unorganised sector to voluntarily save for their retirement the Central Government launched a co-contributory pension scheme, ‘Swavalamban’ Scheme in the Union Budget of 2010-11.
- Under Swavalamban Scheme, the government will contribute a sum of Rs. 1,000 to each eligible NPS subscriber who contributes a minimum of Rs. 1,000 and maximum Rs. 12,000 per annum.
1st Meeting of National Committee on Ramayana Circuit & Krishna Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Scheme held
The Union Government has approved Ramayana and Krishna Circuits under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Union Ministry of Tourism.
- The decision was taken at the 1stMeeting of National Committee on Ramayan Circuit and National Committee on Krishna Circuit.
- The destinations were approved by the expert committee.
- Further, projects worth more than Three Hundred Crores Rupees were approved in-principle in Uttar Pradesh under both the circuits.
About Ramayana Circuit:
- Under Ramayana Circuit, 11 destinations spread across 6 states have been proposed. The destinations covered are: Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringhverpur & Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh); Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga (Bihar); Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh); Bhadrachalam (Telangana); Hampi (Karnataka); and Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu).
- Expert committee suggested to include Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh), Nashik & Nagpur (Maharashtra) and Mahendragiri (Odisha) in the proposed circuit.
About Krishna circuit:
- Under Krishna circuit, 12 destinations spread across 5 states have been proposed. The destinations covered are: Dwarka (Gujarat); Nathdwara, Jaipur & Sikar (Rajasthan); Kurukshetra (Haryana), Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Barsana, Nandgaon & Govardhan (Uttar Pradesh); Puri (Odisha).
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
The Ministry of Tourism has launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15.
- Aim of the scheme is to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.
- Under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, thirteen thematic circuits have been identified, for development namely:
- North-East India Circuit,
- Buddhist Circuit,
- Himalayan Circuit,
- Coastal Circuit,
- Krishna Circuit,
- Desert Circuit,
- Tribal Circuit,
- Eco Circuit,
- Wildlife Circuit,
- Rural Circuit,
- Spiritual Circuit,
- Ramayana Circuit and
- Heritage Circuit.
Yellow Fever Vaccination facility inaugurated at Tuticorin
A Yellow Fever Vaccination facility was inaugurated by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India at VO Chidambaranar Port, one of the top 12 major ports in the country.
- This is the 35th centre in the country to provide yellow fever vaccination facility.
About yellow fever:
Yellow fever is an acute viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The “yellow” in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.
- Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
- The disease is caused by the yellow fever virus and is spread by the bite of an infected female mosquito.
- It infects only humans, other primates, and several species of mosquitoes.
- The disease may be difficult to tell apart from other illnesses, especially in the early stages. To confirm a suspected case, blood sample testing with polymerase chain reaction is required.
- A safe and effective vaccine against yellow fever exists and some countries require vaccinations for travellers.
- It is common in tropical areas of South America and Africa, but not in Asia.
Judicial commission on OROP gets 6-month extension
With concerns on the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme expressed by ex-servicemen still to be addressed, the government has given an extension to the one-man judicial commission appointed on the issue.
- In December last year, the government had appointed the one-man commission headed by Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, former Chief Justice of Patna High Court with a six-month mandate which ended on June 15.
About One-rank one-pension scheme:
- One Rank-One Pension scheme is a scheme which will ensure that soldiers of the same rank and the same length of service receive the same pension, irrespective of their retirement date.
- In simple words, it demands equal pensions for those who have retired in one particular year, as those who retire in another year at the same position, and for the same duration of services rendered.
- The difference in the pension of present and past pensioners in the same rank occurs on account of the number of increments earned by the defence personnel in that rank.
RBI simplifies registration process for new NBFCs
In order to make the registration process of new non-banking finance companies smoother and hassle-free, the Reserve Bank of India has revised the application form for registration of these companies and the checklist of documents to be submitted.
- The number of documents to be submitted by NBFC applicants has been reduced from the existing set of 45 documents to seven to eight in the revised process.
- The RBI said henceforth there would be two different types of applications for non-deposit taking NBFCs (NBFC-ND) based on sources of funds and customer interface.
- The first type (Type-I) will be a NBFC-ND not accepting public funds/ not intending to accept public funds in the future and not having customer interface/ not intending to have customer interface in the future.
- The second type (Type-II) will be NBFC-ND accepting public funds/ intending to accept public funds in the future and/or having customer interface/intending to have customer interface in the future.
- The RBI said processing of cases for Type-I of NBFC-ND applicants would be on fast track mode. As these companies will not have access to public funds and will not have customer interface, they will be subjected to less intensive scrutiny/ due diligence.
What do “Public funds” include?
- “Public funds” include funds raised either directly or indirectly through public deposits, commercial paper, debentures, inter-corporate deposits and bank finance but excludes funds raised through issue of instruments compulsorily convertible into equity shares within a period not exceeding 10 years from the date of issue.
Meaning of “Customer interface”:
- “Customer interface” means interaction between the NBFC and its customers while carrying on its business.
What is a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC)?
Non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that provide banking services without meeting the legal definition of a bank, i.e. one that does not hold a banking license.
- A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956.
- These institutions typically are restricted from taking deposits from the public depending on the jurisdiction.
- Nonetheless, operations of these institutions are often still covered under a country’s banking regulations.
[Ref: Hindu, RBI]
Environment & Ecology
Giant African Snails on quiet rampage in Kerala
The Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) has warned that the highly invasive and rapidly proliferating Giant African Snails can not only decimate huge swathes of standing crops, but also pose a serious health threat to young children and eat through buildings as well.
- Owing to the health hazards caused by the snails and its impact on agriculture, the KFRI has initiated an eradication drive against the pest.
About Giant African Snails:
Considered one among the 100 worst invasive species in the world, Giant African Snails (Achatina fulica) feed on a large number of plants.
- The snail destroys almost all crops and can live in aestivation for 2-3 years.
- The snail acts as an intermediate host of the rat lung worm Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which causes Eosinophilic meningitis in children below 5 years of age.
- It lives in close proximity to human habitats.
- The snail requires large amount of calcium for maintaining its huge shell. As the soil in Kerala is very poor in calcium content, the snails utilise the calcium content in the compound walls and buildings, thus damaging them.
India, South Korea launch platform ‘Korea Plus’ to promote investments
India and South Korea have launched a platform ‘Korea Plus’ to promote and facilitate investments from the East Asian country.
- Moreover, India and South Korea will jointly review their Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to boost trade and investment ties.
About ‘Korea Plus’:
Korea Plus is a special initiative to promote and facilitate Korean Investments in India.
- Korea Plus comprises a representative each from the South Korean Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy and Korea Trade Investment and Promotion Agency (KOTRA). Besides, it includes three officials from Invest India.
- The mandate of Korea Plus covers the entire investment spectrum including supporting Korean enterprises entering the Indian market for the first time, looking into issues faced by Korean companies doing business in India and policy advocacy to the Indian government on their behalf.
- An MoU for establishing Korea Plus was signed between the two sides in January.
- The Free Trade Agreement (FTA), officially called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), had come into effect in 2010.
- The FTA review will involve, among other things, fresh negotiations on elimination/reduction of duties on various products.
- Indian steel makers want steel products to be excluded from the scope of FTA as a surge in cheaper steel imports was hurting them.
India-Bangladesh waterways transit inaugurated in Dhaka
The India-Bangladesh waterways transit, carrying goods from Kolkata, was inaugurated in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- The event marked the first official transit to India’s north-east via the inland waterways of Bangladesh.
- The opening is part of the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade signed by the Prime Ministers of the two nations last year.
- The transit would reduce the transportation cost substantially to carry goods from rest of India to country’s north-east as the distance reduces from about 1,700 km via Siliguri in north Bengal to about 500 km via Bangladesh.
- The projects would also create jobs for the local people of Bangladesh.
Defence & Security Issues
Indigenous HTT-40 trainer aircraft makes inaugural flight
India’s indigenous basic trainer aircraft, Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40), made its inaugural flight.
- The two-seater aircraft is designed and developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
- HTT-40 will be used for the first-stage training for all flying cadets of the three services.
Science & Technology
Very hot drinks ‘probably’ cause cancer: UN agency
According to International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), drinking very hot coffee and other drinks “probably” causes cancer of the oesophagus.
- However, for some types of cancer, there were hints that coffee may even be beneficial, but not if consumed hotter than 65 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Studies in places such as China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and South America, where tea or mate is traditionally drunk very hot (at about 70 C) found that the risk of oesophageal cancer increased with the temperature at which the beverage was drunk.
- Studies have also found that coffee had strong antioxidant effects and other possible health benefits.
- According to the WHO, cancer of the food pipe accounts for about 400,000 deaths out of eight million total cancer deaths every year.