Polity & Governance
- Aadhaar Bill introduced in Lok Sabha
- Delhi government launches HPV vaccine
- Central bank issues draft norms for NBFC-AA
- UN approves toughest sanctions on North Korea in 20 years
Defence & Security Issues
- Exercise FORCE 18 begins
Science & Technology
- Astronomers Detect Fast Radio Burst
Polity & Governance
Aadhaar Bill introduced in Lok Sabha
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha.
- The Bill provides statutory backing to Aadhaar, the unique identity number through which the government plans to target delivery of subsidy benefits and services.
- It has been introduced as a ‘Money Bill’.
- The expenditure for the nationwide Aadhaar exercise is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India.
Key provisions in the Bill:
- The Bill seeks to make the use of Aadhaar mandatory for availing of government subsidies.
- The bill has sought to address many provisions related to privacy and security of the biometric information provided by citizens. The bill provides that the information will be an electronic record and will be classified as “sensitive personal data or information” as per the provisions of the Information Technology Act.
- The bill prohibits the sharing of the core biometric information in any form. However, information about the identity of an individual, other than core biometric information, can be shared subject to certain conditions.
- The bill also mandates the enrolling agency to inform the individual undergoing enrolment on how the data will be used and with whom it will be shared and the fact that the individual can also access such information.
- The bill also provides provisions wherein institutions, after paying a fee, can authenticate the identity of a person. But for this, the institution should have the consent of the Aadhaar number holder.
- It directs UIDAI to have sufficient security of identity information and authentication record of individuals. It also directs UIDAI to ensure that agencies, consultants and its employees are bound by confidentiality and do not leak any information.
- To ensure that the number of people excluded from Aadhaar’s fold is minimum, the bill also talks about special measures that will be undertaken by the Authority to issue numbers to women, nomadic tribes, street dwellers, senior citizens, persons with disability and unskilled and unorganized workers. It also says the Aadhaar number by itself will not be considered proof of citizenship or domicile.
- It also provides for penalties for impersonation, unauthorized access and tampering of data in the Central Identities data repository that stores all such information. However, to be sure, the government has retained the right to use and access such information sought “in the interest of national security.”
Significance of this Bill:
- The bill will provide for good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals.
- The proposed legislation will also address the uncertainty surrounding the project after the Supreme Court restricted the use of the Aadhaar number until a constitution bench delivers its verdict on a number of cases challenging the mandatory use of Aadhaar in government schemes and rules on the issue of privacy violation.
Delhi government launches HPV vaccine
In a significant attempt towards prevention of cervical cancer caused by a sexually transmitted infection, the Delhi government has launched the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination as a public health programme.
- This programme has already been adopted in 150 countries.
- Delhi is the first state in India to launch HPV vaccine for cervical cancer as public health programme.
- Currently, the vaccine is not manufactured in India. So, it will be imported at a subsidised cost.
About the programme:
- As part of the programme, girls of class VI in government schools will be targeted in the first phase. This will be completed in the current academic year over two phases.
- Through this initiative about 80 per cent of the cervical cancers can be prevented.
About Human Papillomavirus (HPV):
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a DNA virus from the papillomavirus family that is capable of infecting humans.
- It is a common sexually transmitted infection which causes cervical cancer.
- Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women aged 15-44 years.
- According to the HPV India Report 2015 (HPV R-2015), 1,22,844 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 67,477 die from the disease in India every year.
Central bank issues draft norms for NBFC-AA
The Reserve Bank of India has issued draft norms for the creation of a new entity in the non-banking financial sector, namely NBFC – Account Aggregator (AA)
- The draft norms proposed that the minimum capital for start such an activity will be Rs. two crore.
- NBFC –AA will act as an account aggregator to enable the common man to see all his accounts across financial institutions in a common format.
- The idea of such an NBFC had emanated from the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).
- At present, a person holding financial assets such as, savings bank deposits, fixed deposits, mutual funds, insurance policies, do not get a consolidated view of their financial asset holdings, especially when the entities fall under the purview of different financial sector regulators.
Significance of NBFC – Account Aggregator (AA):
- Account Aggregators would fill present gap by collecting and providing the information of customers’ financial assets in a consolidated, organised and retrievable manner to the customer or any other person as per the instructions of the customer. The investors will be able to avail the service of an Account Aggregator purely at their option.
Non-Banking Financial Company(NBFCs):
- 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.
- The Reserve Bank of India is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating and supervising the Non-Banking Financial Companies by virtue of powers vested under Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
Limitations to the functions of the NBFCs:
- Typically, NBFCs 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.
- NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
- NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
- Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.
UN approves toughest sanctions on North Korea in 20 years
The United Nations Security Council has imposed a broad array of sanctions against North Korea.
- The latest sanctions reflect the growing anger at North Korea’s latest nuclear test and rocket launch in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity.
- The resolution aims to cripple parts of the North Korean economy that fuel its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The imposed sanctions under the resolution:
- Require all North Korean planes and ships carrying cargo to be inspected. Previously, nations only inspected planes and ships when they had “reasonable grounds,” which enabled North Korea to hide tools and parts for missiles and the nuclear program in inconspicuous packages.
- Ban Pyongyang (Capital of North Korea) from exporting most of the country’s natural resources. Coal alone accounted for about $1 billion in annual income.
- Ask U.N. member states to ban North Korea from opening banks, and to close any banks believed to be associated with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
- Direct member states to expel North Korean diplomats and foreign nationals engaged in illicit activities.
- Prohibit nations from providing training to North Korean nationals in fields that could advance the nation’s missile and nuclear programs, such as aerospace engineering and advanced computer simulation.
- Ban member states from allowing North Korea to charter foreign vessels or aircraft, and ban all nations from operating any vessels that use North Korean flags.
- Prohibit the supply of aviation fuel — including rocket fuel — and the sale of small arms to North Korea.
Defence & Security Issues
Exercise FORCE 18 begins
Multinational Field Training Exercise (FTX) – Exercise FORCE 18, involving ASEAN Plus countries commenced at Pune.
- This is the largest Ground Forces Exercise ever conducted on Indian soil.
- It would be conducted with themes based on ‘Humanitarian Mine Action’and ‘Peacekeeping Operations’.
- India and some other countries form part of the ASEAN plus.
About ASEAN Plus:
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
- ASEAN Plus includes ASEAN’s 10 member states and eight dialogue partner countrieswhich are China, Japan, South Korea, the US, India, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.
Science & Technology
Astronomers Detect Fast Radio Burst
Astronomers have for the first time detected repeating short bursts of mysterious and powerful radio waves from an enigmatic source that is likely located well beyond the edge of our Milky Way galaxy.
- It is also possible that the finding represents the first discovery of a sub-class of the cosmic fast-radio-burst population.
Source of FRBs:
- The findings indicate that these “fast radio bursts” come from an extremely powerful object which occasionally produces multiple bursts in under a minute.
First detected at:
- These bursts were detected by Arecibo radio telescope, which is located in Puerto Rico.
[Arecibo radio telescope is the world’s largest radio telescope. Puerto Rico is a dependent territory of The United States Of America.]
What are FRBs?
A fast radio burst (FRB) is a high-energy astrophysical phenomenon manifested as a transient radio pulse lasting only a few milliseconds.
- They are bright, unresolved, broadband, millisecond flashes, found in parts of the sky outside the Milky Way.
- The burst is delayed by different amounts of time, depending on the wavelength. This delay is described by a value called adispersion measure.
- The origin of fast radio bursts is not known: they are generally thought to be extragalactic due to the anomalously high amount of pulse dispersion observed.
- Most theories suggest that such burst generally occur from cataclysmic incidents that destroy their source- a star exploding in a supernova or a neutron star collapsing into a black hole.
[Ref: BS, Wiki]