Polity & Governance
- Tibetan Democracy Day, its meaning and significance
- Panel on fintech submits a final report to FM Nirmala Sitharaman
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Lignin from agro-waste helps make useful nanocomposites
Bilateral & International Relations
- Mega UN Summit to Combat Desertification Kick off at Greater Noida
- India to chair World Election Bodies’ chair for 2 years
- Male Declaration ignores Pakistan’s concern on Kashmir’
- What is The Interpol General Assembly, which India wants to host in 2022
Defence & Security Issues
- World’s most advanced attack helicopter ‘Apache’ inducted into IAF
- Joint Naval Annual Quality Conclave (JNAQC)
- Warships and aircraft ready for first US-ASEAN maritime drills
- When India’s interim government was formed in 1946
Art & Culture
- Tourism Minister inaugurates first-ever architectural LED illumination at Qutb Minar
- KVIC Launches ‘Terracotta Grinder’ at Varanasi to Re-use wasted pottery
Key Facts for Prelims
- Romila Thapar-JNU row explained: Who is a Professor Emeritus?
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Polity & Governance
Tibetan Democracy Day, its meaning and significance
The Tibetan Government-in-Exile celebrated its 59th Democracy Day at the McLeodganj monastery on September 2 which marks the anniversary of the establishment of the democratic system of the Tibetan people living in exile in India.
About Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE)
- Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile is the highest legislative body of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
- The CTA is based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. Elections are held every five years to elect Members of the TPiE, and their Sikyong (Prime Minister).
- From 1991, the Constitution of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (TGiE) promulgated by Dalia lama, became the legislative organ of the CTA.
- The TGiE is not recognised officially by any country, including India. However, many countries, including the US, deal directly with the Sikyong and other Tibetan leaders through various forums.
Background of TPiE
- The 14th Dalai Lama wanted the democratisation of the Tibetan polity. He initiated the reforms in Tibet itself but was interrupted due to China’s invasion in 1950.
- Prior to the Chinese invasion, Tibetans experienced little or no democratic governance since important decisions were taken by the National Assembly, Cabinet members, abbots of the three great monasteries and societal representatives. No direct elections were held.
- Following the 14th Dalai Lama’s escape into India in 1959, he formally outlined an introduction of democratic polity in Bodhgaya, India in February 1960.
- He advised the exile Tibetans to set up an elected body comprising three exile representatives from the three traditional Tibetan provinces (Utsang, Amdo and Kham) and one each from the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
- Elections were duly held and 13 representatives termed ‘Deputies’ were elected and designated as the ‘Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies’ (CTPD).
- They took their oath on 2 September 1960. This historic date was later celebrated as ‘Tibetan Democracy Day’.
Panel on fintech submits a final report to FM Nirmala Sitharaman
A steering committee on fintech-related issues has recommended that a comprehensive legal framework for consumer protection be put in place early keeping in mind the rise of fintech and digital services.
- The committee was headed by the Subhash Chandra Garg.
Recommendations of the Committee
- RBI should consider the development of a cash-flow based financing for MSMEs, development of an open- ‘Application programming interface’ (API) MSME stack based on ‘Trade Receivables Discounting System – TReDS data validated by GSTN and a standardised e-invoice infrastructure designed around TREDS-GSTN integration.
- RBI should examine the suitability of ‘virtual banking system’ along with its costs and benefits.
- Insurance companies and lending agencies should be encouraged to use drone and remote sensing technology for crop area, damage and location assessments to support risk reduction in insurance/lending business.
- Department of Financial Services should work with PSU banks to reduce fraud and security risks. Significant opportunities can be explored to increase the levels of automation using Artificial Intelligence (AI), cognitive analytics and machine learning in their back-end processes.
- National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) should take immediate steps to create a credit registry for farmers with special thrust for fintech use along with core banking solutions (CBS) by agri-financial institutions.
- There should be a special drive for modernisation of land records by setting up a dedicated National Digital Land Records Mission, to make available land ownership data on an online basis to Financial Institutions.
- It also suggested for setting up of an Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on fintech Applications in the Department of Economic Affairs to monitor progress, including exploring the potential applications in government financial processes.
- There is need for adoption of regulation technology (RegTech) as well as supervisory technology (or SupTech), by all financial sector regulators to develop standards and facilitate adoption by financial sector service providers to adopt use-cases making compliance with quicker and effective regulations.
- It suggested usage of common fintech platform for MUDRA loans, small saving schemes, pension schemes and provident fund.
- It recommended creating a common digital platform for all micro-pension schemes and government pension schemes, including EPF, through which pension subscribers can subscribe to specific schemes and reduce access barriers by allowing payments through various modes.
- To enable electronic service delivery in the financial services sectors, the panel suggested to explore the scope of permitting digital alternatives in cases such as power-of-attorney, trust deeds, wills, any contract for the sale or conveyance of immovable property or any interest in such property.
- The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has recently issued guidelines for setting up virtual banks.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Lignin from agro-waste helps make useful nanocomposites
Researchers at the Mohali-based Centre of Innovative and Applied Bioprocessing (CIAB) have developed a lignin-based nanocomposite which could potentially have commercial value.
About the lignin-based nanocomposite
- Burning of post-harvest biomass like straw is common practice among Indian farmers leading to severe environmental pollution.
- Hence, Researchers converted agro-waste into value-added nanomaterials with antimicrobial properties, reducing the pollution and increase the farmers’ income.
- The research test results also indicate that, in the long run, the lignin-based nanomaterial can act as an additive in coating and packaging materials.
What is Lignin?
- Lignin is a constituent of the cell walls of almost all dry land plant cell walls. It is the second most abundant natural polymer in the world, surpassed only by cellulose
- It is a complex organic polymer rich in polyphenols with antimicrobial qualities.
- Lignin is unique in that it is the only large-scale biomass source of an aromatic functionality (property of atomic structures giving increased stability compared to other geometric atomic structures with the same set of atoms).
Bilateral & International Relations
Mega UN Summit to Combat Desertification Kick off at Greater Noida
A UN convention to combat desertification kicked off recently in which countries are expected to announce their targets for land restoration and agree on measures to address emerging threats including sand and dust storms and droughts.
About the UN Summit held at Greater Noida
- The 14th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
- It 14 COP was the largest ever COP organised by UNCCD.
- India took over the Presidency of the UNCCD COP from China as the COP 13 was held at China, during which countries agreed on a 12-year strategy to contain runaway land degradation that is threatening global food and water supply. It also witnessed the birth of the first global private sector fund Known as the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, dedicated to implementing the SDGs.
About the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD):
- Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
- There are 197 parties to this convection including India.
- The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
- The new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
- The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the financial mechanism of the UNCCD.
- The convention awards the ‘Land for Life Award’ every year for the innovation in efforts towards a land management, in line with achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What is Desertification?
- Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas.
- It is not the natural expansion of existing deserts.
- It is a gradual process of soil productivity loss and the thinning out of the vegetative cover because of human activities and climatic variations such as prolonged droughts and floods.
- It can be caused by over cultivation, overgrazing, deforestation, and poor irrigation practices. Such overexploitation is generally caused by economic and social pressure, ignorance, war, and drought.
Desertification and the Sustainable Development Goals:
- The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”.
- Specifically, Goal 15 of SGD states to halt and reverse land degradation.
Indian Desertification scenario:
- India has witnessed increase in the level of desertification in 26 of 29 states between 2003-05 and 2011-13.
- More than 80 per cent of the country’s degraded land lies in just nine states: Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.
- As per State of India’s Environment (SoE) 2019 report, Top three districts with highest area under desertification are Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh and Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir.
Main reasons that cause desertification in India are
- Water erosion (10.9 per cent)
- Vegetation degradation (8.9 per cent)
- Wind erosion (5.5 per cent)
- Salinity (1.1 per cent)
- Human-made/settlements (0.7 per cent)
- Others (2.0 per cent)
India to chair World Election Bodies’ chair for 2 years
The fourth general assembly of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) is being hosted by the Election Commission of India in Bengaluru on September 3. On the same day, India will take over as the chair of A-WEB for 2019-21.
- An international conference on ‘Initiatives and challenges of social media and information technology in elections’ has also been organised under fourth general assembly.
About World Election Bodies
- The Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) is the largest association of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) worldwide.
- A-WEB aims at strengthening the processes of election management in member countries. It also undertakes election visitor and observation programmes in various countries to study various election management practices.
- It was established in 2013 in South Korea and the permanent secretariat of A-WEB is located at Seoul, South Korea.
- Election Commission of India has been A-WEB’s Executive Board Member since inception for two consecutive terms (2013-15 and 2015-17).
- It has 115 Members & 20 Regional Associations/Organisations as Associate Members.
Male Declaration ignores Pakistan’s concern on Kashmir’
The South Asian Speakers’ Summit that adopted the Male Declaration overlooked all assertions made by Pakistani Parliamentary Delegation.
About 4th South Asian Speakers’ Summit
- The 4th South Asian Speakers’ Summit on Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), jointly organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the People’s Majlis, was recently took place in Male’ (Maldives).
- The previous three summit was hosted by the Bangladesh (2016), India (2017) and Sri Lanka (2018).
- The Summit is intended for Speakers of the Parliaments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
- The Male Declaration, adopted during the summit, included commitments to work on Promoting Equality at Work including Equal Remuneration and Creating Jobs for Young People; Nutrition and Food Security in the Asia Pacific Region.
What was the issue?
- During the meeting, which was meant to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Pakistan raised the issue of bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh despite not being part of the agenda.
- However, the summit ignored all assertions made by the Pakistani parliamentary delegation.
What is The Interpol General Assembly, which India wants to host in 2022
India has proposed to Interpol that the General Assembly of the organization be held in New Delhi in 2022 as part of the India’s 75th Independence Day celebrations.
What is Interpol?
- INTERPOL is the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) which is an inter-governmental organization.
- It was founded in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) and was renamed in 1956 as INTERPOL.
- It is headquartered at Lyon, France.
- It has 194 member countries including India.
- The General Assembly is governing body and it brings all countries together once a year to take decisions.
- Each country hosts an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), which links national police with INTERPOL’s global network.
General assembly of Interpol
- The General Assembly is Interpol’s supreme governing body and comprises representatives from all its member countries.
- It is the largest global gathering of senior law enforcement officials.
- The General Assembly meets annually to vote on activities and policy.
- Each country is represented by one or more delegates at the Assembly.
- It also elects the members of the Interpol Executive Committee, the governing body which provides guidance in between sessions of the Assembly.
- The General Assembly’s decisions take the form of Resolutions which are public documents.
- Decisions are made either by a simple or a two-thirds majority, depending on the subject matter.
- The Interpol’s 88th General Assembly will assemble in Santiago, Chile in 2019.
- South Korea was elected president of Interpol for a two-year term until 2020 by the General Assembly in Dubai.
Defence & Security Issues
World’s most advanced attack helicopter ‘Apache’ inducted into IAF
Out of 22 Apache AH-64E to be delivered, The Indian Air Force inducted eight US-made Apache AH-64E attack helicopters, giving a major boost to India’s combat capabilities.
- Apache-64E attack helicopters will replace the Mi-35 fleet of Indian air force.
About the Apache Helicopter
- The AH-64E Apache is one of the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopters, and is flown by the US Army.
- These helicopters are equipped with fire and forget anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air Stinger missiles, air-to-ground Hellfire missiles and Hydra rockets.
- India is the 14th country in the world to be operating the Apache attack helicopters.
- In 1954, Indian air force inducted Sikorsky S-55 multi-purpose helicopter made by US.
Joint Naval Annual Quality Conclave (JNAQC)
- The Joint Naval Annual Quality Conclave (JNAQC) will be hosted in Visakhapatnam on September 05, 2019.
- It will be hosted by the Naval Quality Assurance Establishments under the aegis of Director General Quality Assurance (DGQA), Ministry of Defence.
- It has the theme of ‘Transformation of QA Paradigm: Opportunities and Challenges’
Warships and aircraft ready for first US-ASEAN maritime drills
Personnel from the U.S. and ten Southeast Asian countries will join in second AUMX kicking off on September 2, as part of a joint exercise extending into the flashpoint South China Sea.
About the second ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX)
- The second ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise is Co-led by the S. and Thailand.
- The exercises will be conducted in Southeast Asia, including the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea and will end in Singapore.
- The purpose of the exercise is to maintain maritime security, focus on prevention and preempt wrongdoing in the sea.
- All ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will take part in the exercise which include the boarding of target vessels to simulate search and seizure.
- The joint drills have come under criticism for including Myanmar’s Navy in a AUMX despite US’s imposing sanctions on Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis.
About Nine-dash line
- Parts of the South China Sea are claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, while China says most of the waters are part of its territory.
- China has demarcated an extensive area of the sea with a so-called ‘Nine-dash line’ (or Cow’s tongue) which are a key global shipping routes.
- The first ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX) between the Southeast Asian countries and US was started in Thailand and ended in Singapore.
- The South China Sea is an important shipping route where an estimated $5 trillion worth of trade passes every year.
- The South China Sea is located in the Pacific Ocean, south of China, northwest of the Philippines, east of Cambodia and Vietnam, and north of Borneo and the Bangka-Belitung Islands.
- The South China Sea is the main link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, connecting the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia with shipping lines.
When India’s interim government was formed in 1946
On September 2, 1946, the interim government of India led by Jawaharlal Nehru was formed. It was the only such cabinet in India’s history in which arch-rivals Congress and the Muslim League shared power at the Centre.
What led to the formation of India’s interim government?
- Starting with the Cripps mission in 1942, a number of attempts were made by colonial authorities to form an interim government in India.
- In 1946, elections to the Constituent Assembly were held following the proposals of the British Cabinet Mission dispatched by the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.
- The Congress won the majority in the general non-Muslim seats while the Muslim League won the majority of Muslim seats in the provinces.
- Viceroy of India at that time, Lord Wavell, subsequently called upon Indian representatives to join the interim government.
- A federal scheme had been visualised under the Government of India Act of 1935, however, it was never implemented due to the opposition from India’s princely states.
- As a result, the interim government functioned according to the older Government of India Act of 1919.
The interim cabinet
- In September, 1946, the Congress party formed the government and the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) subsequently ratified the Congress Working Committee’s decision.
- The Muslim League initially decided to sit out of the government, as the three of the five ministries reserved for Muslims were occupied by all non-League Muslim representatives.
- However, Muslim League finally joined after Lord Wavell agreed to allot all five reserved ministries to the Muslim League.
Some of the decisions taken by the cabinet:
- In September, 1946, Nehru declared the government’s plan to engage in direct diplomatic relations with all countries and goodwill missions.
- In November 1946, India ratified the Convention on International Civil Aviation. In the same month, a committee was appointed to advise the government on nationalising the armed forces.
- The year 1947 saw the opening of diplomatic channels between India and many countries. The ambassadors of US, China and Belgian were announced. Embassy level diplomatic relations with the USSR and the Netherlands also started.
- The Indian Commonwealth Relations Department and the External Affairs Department were merged to form the single Department of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations.
- After Partition of India, a dedicated cabinet sub-committee was formed to deal with the situation which consisted of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Liaquat Ali Khan, Abdur Rab Nishtar and Baldev Singh.
- Later, a special cabinet committee aimed at tackling the administrative consequences of Partition was created, including the Viceroy, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Liaquat Ali Khan, and Abdur Rab Nishtar. This committee was later replaced by a Partition Council.
Art & Culture
Tourism Minister inaugurates first-ever architectural LED illumination at Qutb Minar
Minister of State for Culture and Tourism inaugurated first-ever architectural LED illumination at the historic Qutb Minar.
About the Qutub Minar:
- Qutub Minar is a high tower (73 m) built using Indo-Islamic architecture style.
- It is the highest brick minaret in the world.
- Located in Delhi, its construction started in 1192 and completed in 1220.
- The construction of this tower was started by the founder of the Mamluk Dynasty in Delhi, Qutb ud-Din Aibak and completed by his successor Shams-ud-din Iltutmish. Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq and Sikandar Lodi carried out restoration work.
- There are six storeys in the minaret with the first three constructed with red sandstone and the next three with sandstone and marble.
- It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- It is often compared to Leaning Minar of Pisa due to its structure.
- It was built for the use of muezzin (a call to worship, recited by the muezzin at prescribed times of the day).
- Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters engraved in various sections of the minaret speak about the history of its construction.
The Quutb Complex:
- A number of monuments that are historically significant and associated with the minaret surround it and the whole area forms part of the Qutb complex.
- The structures inside the complex include the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the Iron Pillar of Delhi, the Tomb of Imam Zamin, the Tomb of Iltutmish and Major Smith’s Cupola among others.
- Qutub Festival is held in October – November in Qutub Minar Complex, which includes several days of Sufi singing and Indian Classical music.
KVIC Launches ‘Terracotta Grinder’ at Varanasi to Re-use wasted pottery
Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched a first ever ‘Terracotta Grinder’ at Sewapuri in Varanasi.
About Terracotta Grinder
- It will grind the wasted and broken pottery items for re-using in pottery-making.
- Earlier, the wasted pottery items were grinded in normal khal-musal (mortar and pestle) and its fine powder was mixed with the normal clay.
- Mixing this powder in stipulated ratio to normal clay makes the resulting pottery items stronger.
- Terracotta grinder will make grinding of wasted pottery items faster than the traditional mortar and pestle.
- It will lessen the cost of production, and will also help in solving the problem of shortage of clays. It will also create more job opportunities in the villages.
About Project REPLAN (REducing PLAstic in Nature):
- It is a project of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), as part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
- KVIC started manufacturing of plastic-mixed handmade paper at Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute (KNHPI) in Jaipur under its project REPLAN (REducing PLAstic in Nature).
- In this project, the waste plastic is collected, cleaned, chopped, beaten and treated for softness. After that, it is mixed with the paper raw material i.e. cotton rags pulp in a ratio of 80 % (pulp) and 20% (plastic waste).
About Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)
- The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory bodyformed by the Government of India, under the Act of Parliament, ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’.
- In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.
- It is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India
- KVIC seeks to promote the development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas.
- It is the nodal agency of Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) under which loans will be provided for setting up units of processing, bottling, packaging and labelling units for the honey.
Objectives of KVIC
- The social objective of providing employment in rural areas
- The economic objective of producing saleable articles
- The wider objective of creating self-reliance amongst the poor
Key Facts for Prelims
Romila Thapar-JNU row explained: Who is a Professor Emeritus?
The Jawaharlal Nehru University has sought the curriculum vitae (CV) of renowned historian Romila Thapar to review her status as professor emerita.
- The authorities have justified the move on the grounds of changes in rules and regulations of the university regarding the continuation of a professor emeritus after turning 75.
- While Romila Thapar and every other professor emeritus/emerita of JNU, have been nominated to this honorary position for life for their immense contribution to their disciplines.
What is meaning of Professor Emeritus/Emerita?
- ‘Emeritus’ (female equivalent ‘Emerita’, although the usage is often gender-neutral) is a Latin word meaning a veteran soldier.
- Worldwide, ‘Professor Emeritus/Emerita’ is the title bestowed upon an eminent retired academic in recognition of their work and distinguished service.
Scheme of Emeritus Fellowship
- It is a scheme of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
- It aims to provide an opportunity to the superannuated teachers, who have been actively engaged in research and teaching programmes, to undertake research without any restriction of position or pay scales.
Eligibility of the scheme
- Eligibility is based on the quality of research and published work contributed by the teacher.
- The awardee (superannuated) can work under this scheme with a well-defined time-bound action plan up to the age of 70 years or up to two years (non-extendable) of the award whichever is earlier.