Polity & Governance
- President appoints 7 new governors
Issues related to Health & Education
- UGC directs all varsities & higher education institutions to ban sale of junk food on their campuses
- FSSAI notifies standards for honey & its products to curb adulteration
- HAL is the first public sector enterprise to transact on TReDS
Bilateral & International Relations
- ICOMOS launches initiative to save cultural heritage damaged in flood-hit Kerala
- Quad countries discuss ocean security
Defence & Security Issues
- 35% of cyber attacks on Indian sites from China: official report
Art & Culture
- International Buddhist Conclave 2018
Key Facts for Prelims
- 23 August: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
- Brand ambassador of SGNP
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Polity & Governance
President appoints 7 new governors
By exercising his authority under Article 156 of the constitution, President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Governors of seven states including Bihar, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Tripura.
About the Governors of States in India:
- Governor is the head of the Executive power of any state in India, just like the President who is the head of the executive power in the Union.
- But, Governor is the nominal head of a state, unlike the Chief Minister who is the real head of a state in India.
- According to an amendment in the Constitution of India, brought about in 1956, the same person can be the Governor of two or more states.
About the appointment of Governors in India:
- Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor.
- The governors and lieutenant-governors are appointed by the president for a term of 5 years.
- The term of governor’s office is normally 5 years but it can be terminated earlier by: Dismissal by the president on the advice of the prime minister of the country, at whose pleasure the governor holds office or Resignation by the governor.
- There is no provision of impeachment, as it happens for the president.
Issues related to Health & Education
UGC directs all varsities & higher education institutions to ban sale of junk food on their campuses
University Grants Commission (UGC) issued circular directing all varsities and higher education institutions to ban sale of junk food on their campuses.
Significance of the move:
- This ban will help will set new standards for healthy food, making students live better, learn better and reduce obesity levels.
- It will also help to prevent lifestyle diseases which have direct link with excessive weight.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) of India is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- It is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.
- It provides recognition to universities in India, and disburses funds to such recognised universities and colleges.
- The UGC’s mandate also includes overseeing disbursal of fellowships to students.
- Its headquarters is in New Delhi, and six regional centres in Pune, Bhopal, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Bangalore.
Short history of UGC:
- The UGC was first formed in 1945 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and Delhi. Its responsibility was extended in 1947 to cover all Indian universities.
- In 1949, a recommendation was made to reconstitute the UGC along similar lines to the University Grants Committee of the United Kingdom. This recommendation was made by the University Education Commission of 1948-1949 which was set up under the chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan.
- In 1956, the UGC became a statutory body upon the passing of the “University Grants Commission Act, 1956” by the Indian Parliament.
Functions of UGC:
The three primary functions of UGC include
- Overseeing distribution of grants to universities and colleges in India,
- Providing scholarships and fellowships to beneficiaries and
- Monitoring conformity to its regulations by universities and colleges.
FSSAI notifies standards for honey & its products to curb adulteration
Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) has notified food safety standards for honey and its products in bid to curb adulteration.
Need for these standards:
- At present, there are no separate quality standards for honey and its products. The move comes in the wake of government promoting farmers to venture into the beekeeping business to increase their income.
- The standards will help fetch farmers better prices for their products.
Highlights of the new standards:
- The new standards define honey as natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from nectar of blossoms or from secretions of plants, which honey bees collect, transform and store in honeycombs for ripening.
- Honey products should comply with 18 parameters like that of sucrose content, glucose ratio, pollen count, foreign oligosaccharides etc,
- These products should contain fixed maximum 5% limit for sucrose, 10% for carviacallosa and honeydew honey. The moisture percentage should be maximum 20% and pollen count should be 25,000 per gram. If product is sold as honey then food ingredient, including food additives should not be added to it.
- Honey should not be heated or processed to such extent that its essential composition is changed and its quality is impaired. Honey can be labelled according to floral or plant source, if it comes from any particular source and has organoleptic, physicochemical and microscopic properties corresponding with torigin.
- In case of ‘Monofloral Honey’, minimum pollen content of plant species concerned should not be less than 45% of total pollen content. In case of ‘Multi Floral Honey’, pollen content of any of plant species should not exceed 45% of total pollen content.
Significance of the sector:
- About 90,000 tonnes of honey of all varieties is produced annually in the country. There are about 30 lakh honey bee colonies and five lakh people are engaged in the business.
- Government considers promoting farmers to venture into beekeeping business as key component to increase their income.
- Union Government is promoting honey production through mission for integrated development of horticulture (MIDH). It has established National Bee Board for implementing various activities for development of scientific beekeeping under MIDH.
How beeswax is obtained?
Beeswax is obtained from the honeycombs of bees (family Apidae e.g. Apis mellifera L) after the honey has been removed by draining or centrifuging.
- Beeswax consists of a mixture of esters of fatty acids and fatty alcohols, hydrocarbons and free fatty acids. Minor amounts of free fatty alcohols are also present.
- The combs are melted with hot water, steam or solar heat and the melted product is filtered and cast into cakes of yellow beeswax.
- White bees wax is obtained by bleaching the yellow bees wax with oxidising agents.
About royal jelly:
- Royal jelly is the mixture of secretions from hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of worker bees, free from any additive.
- It is the food of larval and adult queens.
- It is a raw and natural food, unprocessed except for filtration which does not undergo addition of substances.
- The colour, taste and the chemical composition of royal jelly are determined by absorption and transformation by the bees fed with the following two types of foods during the royal jelly production time.
Significance of honey and honey bees:
- Honey is an important Minor Forest Produce. About 90% of the Scheduled Tribes of the country live in and around forest areas and the forests provide 60% of the food & medicinal needs of tribals and 40% of their income from Minor Forest Produce (MFP) mostly of which come from Honey.
Benefits of beekeeping:
- Beekeeping has been useful in pollination of crops, thereby, increasing income of the farmers/beekeepers by way of increasing crop yield and providing honey and other beehive products, viz. royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis, bees wax, etc. that serves a source of livelihood for rural poor.
- Therefore, honeybees/ beekeeping has been recognised as one of the important inputs for sustainable development of agriculture/ horticulture.
HAL is the first public sector enterprise to transact on TReDS
State-owned aerospace and defence manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) became the first public sector enterprise (PSU) to make transaction on RXIL TReDS platform.
- It executed its first digitised invoice discounting transaction on RXIL TReDS platform by accepting digital invoice uploaded by Nasik-based MSME (micro category) vendor Narendra Udyog.
- This transaction was financed by Bank of Baroda.
- This makes HAL the first PSU (public sector unit) to transact on TReDS across platforms.
- RXIL, India’s first TReDS platform, enables MSMEs to gain control of their receivables with enhanced visibility and timeliness.
What is TReDS?
TReDS is an online electronic institutional mechanism for facilitating the financing of trade receivables of MSMEs through multiple financiers.
- The TReDS Platform will enable discounting of invoices/bills of exchange of MSME Sellers against large Corporates including Govt. Departments and PSUs, through an auction mechanism, to ensure prompt realization of trade receivables at competitive market rates.
How does the TReDS system work?
A seller has to upload the invoice on the platform. It then goes to the buyer for acceptance. Once the buyer accepts, the invoice becomes a factoring unit. The factoring unit then goes to auction. The financiers then enter their discounting (finance) rate. The seller or buyer, whoever is bearing the interest (financing) cost, gets to accept the final bid. TReDs then settle the trade by debiting the financier and paying the seller.
The amount gets credited the next working day into the seller’s designated bank account through an electronic payment mode. The second leg of the settlement is when the financier makes the repayment and the amount is repaid to the financier.
Salient Features of TReDS:
- Unified platform for Sellers, Buyers and Financiers
- Eliminates Paper
- Easy Access to Funds
- Transact Online
- Competitive Discount Rates
- Seamless Data Flow
- Standardised Practices
[Ref: The Hindu]
Bilateral & International Relations
ICOMOS launches initiative to save cultural heritage damaged in flood-hit Kerala
International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) launched Kerala Heritage Rescue Initiative to assess damage to rich cultural and built heritage sites in flood-devastated Kerala.
- The initiative also aims at setting up a platform for emergency response to the cultural heritage damaged by the floods in Kerala.
- ICOMOS has also approached the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) to partner in the post-disaster work.
- Kerala is endowed with natural beauty, and is home to a number of iconic forts, palaces and other heritage buildings, which attract a huge number of tourists every year. The state is facing its worst floods in nearly a century.
About International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS):
- ICOMOS is global monument conservation body and a non-government organisation.
- It is dedicated to promoting the application of theory, methodology and scientific techniques for conservation of architectural and archaeological heritage across the world.
- It is also advisory body to UNESCO for cultural heritage, in particular for implementation of World Heritage Convention.
- It was founded in 1965 in Warsaw (Poland) as a result of the Venice Charter of 1964. It is headquartered in Paris, France.
- Rome-based International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) is an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide through training, information, research, cooperation and advocacy programmes.
Quad countries discuss ocean security
A report on the policy recommendations on Indian Ocean security by four think tanks from the Quad countries has been launched.
Suggestions made in the report:
- Maintain the momentum of high-level consultations among the Quad countries with the aim of “free and open Info-Pacific region” and progressively move it to a political level.
- Australia, Japan, India and the US should work with countries in the IOR to help maintain independent security and economic policies by supporting high-quality alternatives to unilateral Chinese investments and political alignment with Chinese regional objectives.
- The four countries should work to oppose the establishment of permanent Chinese military bases in the IOR. This should include demonstrating to China that its security needs can be met through cooperation and consultation with other nations and without the recourse to a “disruptive unilateral military presence.”
- Naval fleets should evolve increasingly long range operations. This may require consideration in Japan of new options such as nuclear propulsion for its submarines.
What is “Quad” or “Quadrilateral” grouping?
- Japan has proposed a “Quadrilateral” grouping consisting of India, Australia, USA and Japan. The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007.
- The grouping aims to be a grouping of countries all looking to balance China, using an international rules-based order to counter China’s aggressive power play.
- The purpose is to provide alternative debt financing for countries in the Indo-Pacific.
- India has accepted an invitation to join the grouping. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it.
Defence & Security Issues
35% of cyber attacks on Indian sites from China: official report
According to recent report by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), maximum number of cyber-attacks on official Indian websites are from China, US and Russia.
- The report was forwarded to National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and other security agencies.
- It had analysed cyber-attacks from April-June 2018.
Highlights of the report:
- The cyber attacks from China made up 35% of the total number of cyber attacks on official Indian websites, followed by US (17%), Russia (15%), Pakistan (9%), Canada (7%) and Germany (5%).
- There is also the possibility of “malicious actors from Pakistan using German and Canadian cyberspace for intruding into Indian cyberspace and carrying out malicious activities”.
- They are targeting by sending spear phishing emails with malware attachments. Phishing attacks are usually in the form of an email from a trusted source where they ask for personal details such as bank details personal details, passwords.
- Many of the institutions impacted by the malicious activities have been identified, and they have been advised to take appropriate preventive action. These include Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), National Informatics Centre (NIC), Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Railways, Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) and some banks like Punjab National Bank among others.
About the CERT-In:
CERT-In is nodal government agency that deals with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing in India.
- It is nodal department under the aegis of Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
- According to the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In is responsible for overseeing administration of the Act.
Objectives of the CERT-In:
Its objectives are to:
- Protect Indian cyberspace and software infrastructure against destructive and hacking activities.
- Strengthen security-related defence of the Indian Internet domain. Issue guidelines, vulnerability notes, advisories, and whitepapers regarding to information security practices, prevention, procedures, response and reporting of cyber security incidents.
Art & Culture
International Buddhist Conclave 2018
With an aim to encourage the prominent Buddhist heritage and pilgrim sites in the state of Maharashtra, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation in association with Ministry of Tourism recently organized the 6th International Buddhist Conclave 2018 in Aurangabad.
- Its theme was ‘Buddha Path – The Living Heritage”.
About International Buddhist Conclave:
Union Ministry of Tourism has been organizing International Buddhist Conclave biennially.
- Objectives of this conclave are to showcase and project Buddhist Heritage in India, to boost tourism to Buddhist sites in the country and to cultivate friendly ties with countries and communities interested in Buddhism.
So far, total five conclaves were organized:
- New Delhi and Bodhgaya (February 2004),
- Nalanda and Bodhgaya (February 2010),
- Varanasi and Bodhgaya (September 2012),
- Bodhgaya and Varanasi (September 2014)
- Sarnath/Varanasi and Bodhgaya (October 2016)
What is ‘Buddha Path’?
- The ‘Buddha Path’ refers to eight great places of Buddhist Heritage.
- It was referred in Pali as Aṭṭhamahāṭhānāni.
- These places are connected with important events of life of Buddha from the time of his birth, enlightenment, reaching dhamma to suffering humanity, till he passed away (Mahāparinirvāna) at the age of 80 years.
- These are living heritage that still continues to inspire millions of people to walk and find out peace, happiness, harmony and solace.
Key Facts for Prelims
23 August: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
- The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition was observed across world every year on 23 August.
- The day designated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to memorialize the transatlantic slave trade.
- Observance of this day marks anniversary of 1791 insurrection of enslaved men and women in western part of island of Santo Domingo, which is now known as Haiti.
- Iran has recently unveiled first domestically manufactured fighter jet nicknamed Kowsar.
- It is fourth-generation fighter with advanced avionics and multi-purpose radar.
- Designed and manufactured solely by Iranian military experts, the Kowsar classifies it among military fighters in service from approximately 1980 to the present day.
- Iran is currently under economic and diplomatic pressure from a raft of sanctions reimposed by the United States earlier this month, and the unveiling could be seen as a bid to show self-sufficiency and military might in the face of that pressure.
Brand ambassador of SGNP
- Maharashtra Government has appointed Bollywood actor Raveena Tandon as the brand ambassador of Mumbai city-based Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
About Sanjay Gandhi National Park:
Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), previously called Borivali National Park, is a large protected area in the northern part of Mumbai city in Maharashtra.
- It is spread over three districts – Palgar, Thane and Mumbai Suburb.
- The National Park is home to a number of endangered species of flora and fauna.
- Notable amongst them are large mammalian species such as leopard, wild boar, four-horned antelope, black-naped hare, wild cat, jackal and porcupine and many bird species such as Lesser grebe, Purple Heron, Smaller Egret, Lesser Whistling Teal, Pariah Kite.
- Many reptiles, including snakes as Indian Cobra and Viper are also found in the National Park.
- Tourists also enjoy visiting the 2400-year-old Kanheri caves sculpted out of the rocky cliffs which lie within the park.