Polity & Governance
- BBB recommends elevation of 15 executive directors as MD PSU bank
- Tax department launches ‘instant’ PAN card service
- ‘Govt. banks must boost monitoring, training systems’
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Odisha, RIMES sign MoU for effective disaster management
- Mongolia to host 2018 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
Bilateral & International Relations
- 9th meeting of Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Indo-Nepal relations
- Trump announces plans for Pentagon to create ‘Space Force’
Defence & Security Issues
- Agni-V to be part of nuclear arsenal soon
Art & Culture
- India gets its 37th WORLD UNESCO World HERITAGE SITE
- A 216-foot-tall celebration of Ramanuja
- Artist Anjolie Ela Menon conferred the Kalidas Samman
Science & Technology
- NASA’s Hubble spots massive cluster of 10 billion-years-old stars
Key Facts for Prelims
- Golden Globe Race (GGR)
- July 1 to be celebrated as ‘GST Day’
- India, Pakistan exchange list of civilian prisoners
- 1st July: National Doctors’ Day
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Polity & Governance
BBB recommends elevation of 15 executive directors as MD PSU bank
The Banks Board Bureau (BBB) has recommended 15 executive directors to be elevated as managing directors (MD) at various public sector banks (PSBs).
- It was headed by former Department of Personnel and Training Secretary Bhanu Pratap Sharma.
- These recommendations were based on interactions held by BBB and are subject to various clearances.
- The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister will take the final decision in this regard.
About the Banks Board Bureau:
- With a view to improve the Governance of Public Sector Banks (PSBs), the Government had decided to set up an autonomous Banks Board Bureau in August 2015.
- The bureau was announced as part of the seven-point Indradhanush plan to revamp PSBs.
- BBB is an autonomous body.
- The bureau will have three ex-officio members and three expert members, in addition to the Chairman. All the Members and Chairman will be part time.
- The Bureau is mandated to play a critical role in reforming the troubled public sector banks by recommending appointments to leadership positions and boards in those banks and advise them on ways to raise funds and how to go ahead with mergers and acquisitions.
- It will constantly engage with the boards of all 22 public sector banks to formulate appropriate strategies for their growth and development.
- They will also constantly engage with the Board of Directors of all the public sector banks to formulate appropriate strategies for their growth and development.
- The bureau will search and select heads of public sector banks and help them develop differentiated strategies of capital raising plans to innovative financial methods and instruments.
- It would also be responsible for selection of non-executive chairman and non-official directors on the boards.
Tax department launches ‘instant’ PAN card service
The Income Tax Department has launched an ‘instant’ Aadhaar-based PAN allotment service for individuals seeking the unique identity for the first time.
- This facility is free of cost and instant allotment of e-PAN is available for a limited period on a first-come, first-served basis for valid Aadhaar holders.
- A fresh PAN will be allotted on the basis of a one-time password sent on the mobile number linked to the Aadhaar number of a person.
- The new PAN will have the same name, date of birth, gender, mobile number and address as in the Aadhaar.
- Once the PAN is allotted to an applicant through his electronic Aadhaar-based verification system in a few seconds, the applicant will be sent the PAN card by post
- The e-PAN facility is only for resident individuals and not for Hindu Undivided Family, firms, trusts and companies.
Need for such service:
- The facility was introduced because of the increasing number of people applying for the PAN.
‘Govt. banks must boost monitoring, training systems’
Anand Aras, CEO of Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) has recently said that the banks, particularly public sector banks, need to strengthen their monitoring and training systems coupled with an element of accountability.
About Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI):
Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) was set up in February 2006 as a collaborative effort by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and banks to define benchmarks for banking services.
- It is an independent banking industry watchdog that protects consumers of banking services in India.
- The board oversee compliance with the “Code of Bank’s Commitment to Customers”.
- It is an independent and autonomous body, registered as a separate society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 on 18 February 2006.
- The Reserve Bank of India extended financial support to the Board, meeting its expenses for the first five years.
BCSBI has in collaboration with the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), evolved following two codes which set minimum standards of banking practices for member banks to follow when they are dealing with individual customers and micro and small enterprises.
- Code of Bank’s Commitment to Customers and
- Code of Bank’s Commitment to Micro and Small Enterprises
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Odisha, RIMES sign MoU for effective disaster management
The Odisha government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) for effective management of disasters.
- RIMES and OSDMA collaboration will contribute to global efforts targeted to substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems as articulated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
Advantages of this collaboration:
- RIMES will provide technical support to OSDMA regarding analysis of data to be generated through automatic weather stations being installed in all the gram panchayats, validation of the forecast, early warning and preparedness for lightening, heat wave, flood, draught and Tsunami.
- It would enhance the warning response capacities of the OSDMA by imparting specialized expert training.
- It will also help to develop a one-stop risk management system for all OSDMA needs- integration of multiple data database/servers.
What is RIMES?
- The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) is an intergovernmental body registered under United Nations.
- It is owned and managed by 48 collaborating countries in Asia Pacific and Africa Region.
- India is chairman of the body.
- It was established in 2009 and was registered with UN in July 2009.
- It operates from its regional early warning centre located at campus of Asian Institute of Technology in Pathumthani, Thailand.
- It has evolved from efforts of countries in Africa and Asia in aftermath of 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
- It seeks to establish regional early warning system within multi-hazard framework for generation and communication of early warning information and capacity building for preparedness and response to trans-boundary hazards.
- It provides information related to Tsunami and extreme weather conditions.
- It also acts as a test bed for emerging technologies and help to enhance performance.
Mongolia to host 2018 Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2018 (AMCDRR 2018) will be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
- It is convened by the UN Office for DRR (UNISDR) and the Government of Mongolia.
- The conference will represent a key milestone for reflection on three years into the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
- Specifically, the conference will enable governments and stakeholders to review progress made against the commitments at the AMCDRR 2016, i.e. the New Delhi Declaration, the Asia Regional Plan, and ten stakeholder voluntary action statements.
- Theme of the AMCDRR 2018: ‘Preventing Disaster Risk: Protecting Sustainable Development’.
- AMCDRR is a biennial conference jointly organized by different Asian countries and the UNISDR.
- It was established in 2005.
- So far, 6 AMCDRR conferences have been organised.
- For the first time India had also hosted the second AMCDRR in 2007 in New Delhi.
About Sendai Framework:
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) is an international Treaty which was adopted during the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) held in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015.
- It is the successor agreement to the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005–2015), which had been the most encompassing international accord to date on disaster risk reduction.
- It is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action.
- The Framework is for 15-year.
- It is a voluntary and non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
- The implementation of the Sendai Framework involves adopting integrated and inclusive institutional measures so as to work towards preventing vulnerability to disaster, increase preparedness for response and recovery and strengthen resilience.
Priorities for action:
The Sendai Framework sets four specific priorities for action:
- Understanding disaster risk;
- Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk;
- Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience;
- Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
The Seven Global Targets:
To support the assessment of global progress in achieving the outcome and goal of the Sendai Framework, seven global targets have been agreed:
- Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
- Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020 -2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
- Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
- Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030.
- Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
- Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030.
- Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.
Bilateral & International Relations
9th meeting of Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Indo-Nepal relations
The ninth and final meeting of Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on India-Nepal relations was recently concluded in Kathmandu.
- The Representatives from Nepal and India deliberated up on various bilateral issues including 1950 Peace and Friendship treaty, trade, transit and border during the two day meeting.
About Eminent Persons Group (EPG):
- The EPG is a joint mechanism consisting experts and intellectuals from India and Nepal.
- There are four members each from Nepalese and Indian sides in the group.
- It was set up in February 2016 to make suggestions for updating all existing bilateral treaties and agreements between both the countries.
- The EPG is completing its two-year tenure next month.
About the 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship:
- The 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship is a bilateral treaty between Nepal and India establishing a close strategic relationship between the two South Asian neighbours.
- The treaty was signed at Kathmandu on 31 July 1950 by the last Rana Prime Minister of Nepal Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana and Indian ambassador to Nepal, Chadreshwar Narayan Singh and came into force the same day. Rana rule in Nepal ended just 3 months after the treaty was signed.
- The treaty allows free movement of people and goods between the two nations and a close relationship and collaboration on matters of defense and foreign policy.
- After an abortive attempt in 1952 of the Communist Party of Nepal to seize power with Chinese backing, India and Nepal stepped up military and intelligence cooperation under treaty provisions, and India sent a military mission to Nepal.
Trump announces plans for Pentagon to create ‘Space Force’
The announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump in June about the creation of a “space force” or a sixth branch of the American armed forces has taken many by surprise within and outside the U.S.
- The main intention behind the creation of a “space force” is to see that the U.S. establishes and maintains dominance in space.
- The purpose is to deny the Russians and the Chinese advantages in space.
How this idea is not feasible?
- The fundamental difficulty of a space corps is that the physical environment of space is not conducive to the conduct of military operations without incurring serious losses in the form of spacecraft and debris.
- Another military arm would only compound the organisational challenges facing the U.S. armed services.
- It could undercut ongoing missions.
- It could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.
- A space corps could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.
- And despite efforts to make spacecraft more fuel efficient, the energy requirements are enormous.
- The technical demands of defending assets in space make the possibility of dominance and space as a domain for war-fighting a sort of chimera.
- The imperative by America to build space weapons, which is nothing new, goes back to the Cold War, an example being the Strategic Defense Initiative of the Reagan Administration.
- The creation of the new force represents an important shift at least at an institutional level. What advantages it will bring to American war-fighting capabilities are still unclear.
Defence & Security Issues
Agni-V to be part of nuclear arsenal soon
India’s longest-range ballistic missile, Agni-V, will be inducted into the nuclear arsenal very soon.
- It is a strategic asset which will act as a deterrent.
- The Agni-5 is three-stage solid propellant nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
- It has a range of over 5,000 km covering almost all of Asia including Pakistan and China and Europe.
- It is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.
- It is three-stage solid propellant ICBM indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- India describes the Agni – 5 missile system as a ‘weapon of peace’.
- Unlike other missiles of Agni series, Agni-5 is the most advanced having new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.
- It carries Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV) payloads. A single MIRV equipped missile that can deliver multiple warheads at different targets.
- It also incorporates advanced technologies involving ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer for navigation and guidance.
- The missile will enhance India’s strategic and deterrence capabilities.
- Once this missile is inducted in Services, India will join the super exclusive club of countries having ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.
- The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and tested in 1989.
- At present India in its armoury of Agni missile series, possesses Agni-I (700 km range), Agni-II (2000 km range), Agni-3 (2,500 km range) and Agni-4 (more than 3,500 range).
Art & Culture
India gets its 37th WORLD UNESCO World HERITAGE SITE
At the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO at Manama in Bahrain, India gets its 37th UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Two building clusters of Victorian Gothic and Art Deco architectural styles in Mumbai, Maharashtra were jointly inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List.
Sites inscribed at the 42nd session of World Heritage Committee:
The 42nd session of World Heritage Committee (WHC) has inscribed four cultural sites on the World Heritage List.
- Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai (India),
- Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (Iran),
- Hidden Christian Sites in Nagasaki Region (Japan) and
- Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (South Korea).
- This is first world heritage site that flaunts combination of 19th Century Victorian Gothic structures and 20th Century Art Deco buildings.
- This makes Mumbai city the second city in India after Ahmedabad to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.
- With five sites, Maharashtra has maximum number of world heritage sites in India, including Ajanta and Ellora caves in Aurangabad and Mumbai has three.
- This is third such honour for Mumbai after Elephanta Caves and majestic Victoria Terminus (rechristened Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station) which had earned coveted tag in 1987 and 2004 respectively.
- With this, Mumbai has equal number of World Heritage sites as Delhi, which has three — Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb.
- In the past 5 years alone, India has managed to get inscribed seven of its properties/sites on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
- India now has overall 37 World Heritage Inscriptions with 29 Cultural, 7 Natural and 1 Mixed sites.
- While India stands second largest in number after China in terms of number of World Heritage properties in ASPAC (Asia and Pacific) region, it is overall sixth in the world.
About the UNESCO World Heritage Site:
- A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.
- The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
- Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
- UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site provides prima facie evidence that such culturally sensitive sites are legally protected pursuant to the Law of War, under the Geneva Convention, its articles, protocols and customs, together with other treaties including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law.
- As of July 2017, 1,073 sites are listed: 832 cultural, 206 natural, and 35 mixed properties, in 167 states. Italy is the home for the largest number of sites with 53.
- To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area).
- It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.
World Heritage Day:
- World Heritage Day is celebrated on 18th of April every year. It’s been chosen to tie in with the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
- ICOMOS (International Council for Monuments and Sites) organised a symposium in Tunisia on 18 April 1982 and it was suggested that a special day is to be celebrated all through the world in the name of “International Day for Monuments and Sites” on the same day every year. The idea was also approved in UNESCO’s General Conference in November 1983.
- “International Monuments and Sites Day” has been traditionally called the World Heritage Day.
A 216-foot-tall celebration of Ramanuja
In a rare tribute to spiritualism and egalitarian social philosophy of Tamil Bhakti, a 216-foot-tall statue of Ramanuja in a seated posture will be built at Hyderabad.
- When unveiled, it is set to become the world’s second tallest statue of a seated figure.
- Currently, the Great Buddha of Thailand is the tallest statue, at 302-feet.
- Once the Ramanujacharya statue is unveiled, it will become the second tallest, a distinction now held by the Guanyin figure on Mount Xiqiao in China’s Guangdong region, at 203 feet.
- Ramanuja was a Hindu theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism.
- His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.
- He is famous as the chief proponent of Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedānta.
- He wrote influential texts, such as bhāsya on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, all in Sanskrit.
Last year, the Sahasrabdi anniversary (1017-2017) or 1000 th anniversary of saint Ramanujacharya was celebrated.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Artist Anjolie Ela Menon conferred the Kalidas Samman
Madhya Pradesh Government has conferred prestigious National Kalidas Samman on noted artist Anjolie Ela Menon for her contribution to visual arts.
- The award was conferred in recognition of her insightful and sensitive portrayal of the identity and spirit of women through her meaningful paintings in a variety of media.
About Kalidas Samman:
- Kalidas Samman is a prestigious arts award presented annually by the government of Madhya Pradesh in India.
- The award is named after Kālidāsa, a renowned Classical Sanskrit writer of ancient India. The Kalidas Samman was first awarded in 1980.
- It was initially conferred in alternate years in the fields of Classical Music, Classical Dance, Theatre and Plastic Arts. From 1986-87 onwards, the awards were presented in all four fields every year.
Science & Technology
NASA’s Hubble spots massive cluster of 10 billion-years-old stars
US Space Agency NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected a stunning image of a huge collection of aging stars, believed to be 10 billion-years-old.
- This rich and dense smattering of stars is a massive globular cluster, a gravitationally bound collection of stars that orbits the Milky Way.
About Globular clusters:
- Globular clusters are denser and more spherical than open star clusters like the famous Pleiades.
- They typically contain hundreds of thousands of stars that are thought to have formed at roughly the same time.
About the Hubble Space Telescope:
- The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.
- It was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency.
- Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts.
- It is one of the largest and most versatile space telescopes, and is well known as both a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy.
- Expanding the frontiers of the visible Universe, the Hubble Space Telescope looks deep into space with cameras that can see across the entire optical spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet.
Key Facts for Prelims
Golden Globe Race (GGR)
- The Golden Globe Race (GGR) is being conducted by UK based sailing pioneer Sir Robin Knox Johnston to commemorate 50 years since the world’s first solo non-stop circumnavigation by him on-board Indian-built boat Suhaili, in 1968.
- Indian Navy’s well-known sailor Commander Abhilash Tomy has participated in the GCR. He is the only invitee from Asia.
Uniqueness of this race:
- In this race, participants are required to sail around the world, single-handed and non-stop.
- The race does not allow boat designs and technology newer than 1968. It is mandatory for participants to rely traditional means of navigation such as physical maps and observing stars.
- They are not allowed to use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), satellite communication or modern navigational aids. They are provided with satellite phone for medical emergencies.
July 1 to be celebrated as ‘GST Day’
- The government will celebrate July 1, 2018, as ‘GST Day’ to mark the first anniversary of the new indirect tax regime.
- Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out in the intervening night of June 30 and July 1, last year, in a ceremony held in the Central Hall of Parliament.
India, Pakistan exchange list of civilian prisoners
- India and Pakistan have exchanged lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen lodged in each other’s jails.
- The list was shared as per the provision of bilateral agreement on consular access signed between both countries in May 2008.
- Under the agreement, lists of prisoners have to be exchanged twice every year – on January 1 and July 1.
1st July: National Doctors’ Day
- The first day of the month of July is observed as the Doctor’s Day in India.
- The day is observed to express gratitude and acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the doctors’ towards our society.
Why is it celebrated on July 1 in India?
- Doctor’s Day in India was established by the Government of India in 1991.
- It is celebrated on 1st of July on the birth and death anniversary of the most famous physician of India Bidhan Chandra Roy (Dr. B C Roy).
- Dr Roy was born on July 1, 1882, and also died on the same date 80 years later. He was honoured with the Bharat Ratna Award in 1961.
- Dr Roy was a most famous physician and renowned educationist as well as a freedom fighter as he joined the Mahatma Gandhi during Civil Disobedience Movement. Later he became Indian National Congress leader and then Chief Minister of the West Bengal.
Interesting facts about doctors’ day:
- Doctors’ day is celebrated on different dates in different countries. In the US is celebrated on March 30 while in Iran it is celebrated on August 23.