Polity & Governance
- Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare launches e-Pashuhaat
- Two-day All India Conference of CAT inaugurated
- RBI introduces incremental CRR to manage excess liquidity
Bilateral & International Relations
- WHO settles India, EU medicine dispute
Science & Technology
- New smart cane for the blind can remotely sense obstacles
Key Facts for Prelims
- 26 November: National Milk Day
- Third Gender to be included in Rail reservation forms
- India’s first cashless village
- Bajwa as new Pakistan Army Chief
Polity & Governance
Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare launches e-Pashuhaat
On the occasion of birth anniversary of the father of India’s White Revolution Verghese Kurien and National Milk Day, e-pashuhaat portal was launched by The Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
- It aims to connect farmers and breeders of bovine animals.
About the portal:
- The Centre through the portal will provide all details at a single platform, including availability of bovine germplasm.
- It will be a platform for sell of bovines, including information on semen, embryos and live animals with all the agencies and stake holders in the country.
- The portal would make the farmers aware of availability of quality disease free bovine germplasm with different agencies in the country.
- Animal fodder varieties, its volume and price information is also available in this portal.
- Farmers willing to purchase bovine animals can also avail the information of animal transport facilities in this e-pashu haat portal.
- The portal will also connect the farmers with the milk cooperatives in the country.
- Earlier there was no single authentic organised market for animals. Information like pet cattle, trading of bovine animals was not available in any other forum or platform in the country. This portal is likely to help fill in the vacuum.
- Since dairying activity is a major supplementary source of income for farmers. The portal will play important role in increasing income of framers from animal rearing for achieving the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
- It establishes links between ‘farmer to farmer’ and ‘farmer to institutes’. Thus, it minimises the involvement of middlemen.
- It will create a comparative Farm Network that will facilitate farmers to exchange local knowledge and resources.
- India has the largest bovine population in the world. It accounts for 14% of world cattle population, while share for buffalo alone is 53% of which 79% of the cattle are indigenous and 21% are crossbred and exotic varieties.
- The Indigenous bovine breeds are sturdy and are endowed with quality of heat tolerance, resistance to diseases. They have ability to thrive under extreme climatic conditions and survive with low inputs.
- Most of the indigenous are suited for draught animal power as they have low genetic potential for milk production. ‘Rashtriya Gokul Mission’ launched in December 2014 aims at addressing this issue.
Two-day All India Conference of CAT inaugurated
Two-day All India Conference of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) was recently held in Delhi.
- The Conference was inaugurated by Shri Justice T. S. Thakur, Chief Justice of India.
- The Judges of Supreme Court of India, Judges of High Court, Government officials and Advocates attended the conference.
- The Conference is held to discuss and deliberate upon the problems faced by the institution and to bring improvement in the judicial/administrative system so as to achieve higher disposal in the shortest possible time.
About Central Administrative Tribunal:
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) was established by an Act of Parliament namely Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 as sequel to the 42nd amendment of the Constitution of India inserting Article 323 A.
- The Principal seat of Central Administrative Tribunal is at New Delhi and it has 16 Outlying Benches scattered all over the Country.
- The Tribunal is headed by the Chairman and 65 Members, 33 from Judicial (including Chairman) and 33 from the Administrative stream.
- The Chairman is normally a retired Chief Justice of a High Court.
Functions of CAT:
The tribunal adjudicates disputes and complaints with respect to Recruitment and Conditions of Service of the persons appointed to the Public Services and Posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or any State or of any other Local Authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.
Apart from above the Tribunal also has the jurisdiction on the employees of 208 Public Sector Undertakings/ Organizations notified by the Government.[Ref: PIB]
RBI introduces incremental CRR to manage excess liquidity
The Reserve Bank of India has increased the cash reserve requirement (CRR) for incremental deposits between September 16 and November 11 to 100%.
- The move is estimated to suck out around Rs 3.24 lakh crore excess liquidity from the system.
What is CRR?
- CRR is the proportion of deposits that banks have to keep as cash with the RBI (or the central bank).
- Banks do not earn any interest on CRR balances kept with the RBI.
Why RBI takes such move?
With the withdrawal of the legal tender status of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination bank notes beginning November 9, there has been a surge in deposits relative to the expansion in bank credit, leading to large excess liquidity in the system. As per RBI data, total deposits rose from Rs 97 lakh core in the September 16 fortnight to Rs 101.1 lakh crore in the November 11 fortnight.
- One of the main reasons for the RBI move is the rising amount of excess funds that banks were keeping with RBI through its reverse repo window.
- The new move is intended to absorb a part of the surplus liquidity arising from the return of specified bank notes to the banking system, while leaving adequate liquidity with banks to meet the credit needs of the productive sectors of the economy.
What RBI decision says?
- Banks have to maintain 100% CRR for incremental deposits they received between September 16, 2016 and November 11, 2016.
- The incremental CRR requirement will be temporary measure and it is within RBI’s ‘liquidity management framework’.
- However, overall CRR requirement will stay at 4%. The incremental CRR will be reviewed on December 9, 2016 or even earlier.
Implications of the move:
It is intended to absorb a part of the surplus liquidity arising from the return of specified bank notes to the banking system.
Thus, it leaves adequate liquidity with banks to meet the credit needs of the productive sectors of the economy.
It will only have a marginal impact on bank’s cost of funds since it was a temporary measure.
RBI said the incremental CRR is intended to be a temporary measure within its liquidity management framework to drain excess liquidity in the system and shall be reviewed on December 9 or even earlier.[Ref: The Hindu]
Bilateral & International Relations
WHO settles India, EU medicine dispute
In a significant victory for the global access to medicines campaign, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dropped the term ‘counterfeit’ and retained ‘falsified’ to describe medicines of inferior quality.
What’s the issue?
- The European Union Free Trade Agreement (EU FTA) had reached a deadlock after affordable, safe-to-use generic drugs made in India were confiscated as ‘illegal’ and ‘counterfeit.’
- The terms were being used interchangeably to confiscated Indian made generic drugs exported to other countries by showing that they were in violation of intellectual property.
- Nearly 20 shipments of generic drugs, including basic antibiotics and anti-retrovirals, were detained while in transit from India to several developing countries via Europe between 2008 and 2009, derailing the free trade agreement negotiations.
What has the WHO said?
- Settling a long standing dispute between India and the European Union (EU), WHO clarified that ‘counterfeit’— will now be used by member States with respect to protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
Significance of this decision:
- This decision by the WHO settles a long-standing battle about labelling of drugs. For far too long, genuine generic medicines have been labelled as counterfeit.
- The confusion had taken away the much needed attention from the substandard medicines — which is a bigger public health problem for developing countries.
- Additionally, big pharmaceutical companies were using the term ‘counterfeit’ to describe generic medicines and disrupting trade of generic medicines.
- Under international law, — the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) — the definition of counterfeit is clearly targeted at one particular area: wilful infringement of trademark on a commercial scale.
- But, in reality, campaigns and legislation against counterfeit drugs often have nothing to do with concerns about drug quality.
- Major U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in limiting competition from generic drugs, and are using increased enforcement of intellectual property laws as a tool to clamp down on the legitimate trade in high-quality generic medicines between developing countries.
Science & Technology
New smart cane for the blind can remotely sense obstacles
Scientists have developed a new smart cane that can help transform the lives of the blind and visually impaired by allowing them to sense the obstacles which are beyond the physical length of their walking stick.
- The smart cane named as ‘mySmartCane’ was developed by the researchers from The University of Manchester in the UK.
How it will be helpful for the visually impaired?
- It works much like a common car parking sensor.
- The ultrasonic ball in the cane wirelessly measures the distance towards the approaching objects and converts this data into an audio signal.
- The visually impaired user can determine the object distance from the frequency of the sound, before the cane reaches an object.
- The user can hear the sounds through single headphone or through a pair of boneconducting headphones. This will enable them to listen to their external environment as well without losing their freedom.
- This modernised white-cane is simple and low-cost as it is fixed with 3D printing and cheap sensors to create an ultrasonic sensory ball, which attaches to the bottom of most existing white-canes.
Key Facts for Prelims
26 November: National Milk Day
The National Milk Day (NMD) was observed on 26 November is to mark birth anniversary Dr.Verghese Kurien, father of the White Revolution in India.
- This year it was 95th birth anniversary of Dr.Verghese Kurien and third edition of observance of the day since it was established in 2014.
- To mark this event, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which markets the Amul brand of milk and dairy products printed 150 million milk pouches with the National Milk Day logo featuring Dr. Kurien’s picture with the National Milk Day logo on it.
- The idea of observing National Milk Day was first mooted by Indian Dairy Association (IDA) in 2014 on the lines of World Milk Day (observed every year on June 1) under the aegis of UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
- The first NMD was observed on 26 November 2014 by all Indian diary sector majors including National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), IDA along with around 22 state level milk federations.
About Verghese Kurien:
- Verghese Kurien had dedicated his entire life for a cooperative movement which boosted the production of milk in India.
- Dr Kurien was an Indian social entrepreneur known as the ‘Father of the White Revolution’ for launching Operation flood — the world’s largest agricultural development programme.
- He was the winner of Ramon Magsaysay Award, World Food Prize, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan etc.
- Known as the ‘milkman of India’, Dr Kurien was the founder-Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) from 1965 to 1998, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF) from 1973 to 2006 and the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) from 1979 to 2006, which are owned and managed by farmers and run by professionals.
Milk production in India:
- India ranks first in milk production, accounting for 18.5 % of world production, achieving an annual output of 146.3 million tonnes during 2014-15 as compared to 137.69 million tonnes during 2013-14 recording a growth of 6.26 %. Whereas, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported a 3.1 % increase in world milk production in 2014.
- The per capita availability of milk in India has increased from 176 grams per day in 1990-91 to 322 grams per day by 2014-15. It is more than the world average of 294 grams per day during 2013.
Third Gender to be included in Rail reservation forms
- In a historic move, the Indian Railways and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) have included ‘transgender as the third gender’ in the gender option along with male and female in the railway ticket reservation and cancellation forms.
- The decision stands for both offline and online booking.
- The decision was taken in accordance with the judgment passed by the Supreme Court of India in the NALSA vs Union of India case on 15 April 2014.
- The court then had directed the Union and State Governments to recognise transgender as the third gender and to grant them with all the benefits provided to the socially and economically backward classes.
India’s first cashless village
- Akodara village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat has earned the coveted tag of becoming India’s first digital village in India.
- All transactions in the village are carried out through digital modes like SMS, net-banking or debit cards.
- The village was adopted by ICICI Bank under its Digital Village Project in 2015 and made cashless by adopting digital technology.
Bajwa as new Pakistan Army Chief
- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Lieutenant-General Qamar Javed Bajwa as the 16th Chief of Pakistan Army.
- Bajwa will replace General Raheel Sharif.
- The army chief is arguably the most powerful person in Pakistan, with the military having ruled the country for more than half its 69-year history since independence from Britain.