Polity & Governance
- Cabinet approves amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014
- New regime at RBI debuts with rate cut
- Govt approves over Rs 500 crore for development of Sagar Port project in West Bengal
Bilateral & International Relations
- Cabinet approves MoU with the AARDO in the field of rural development
- Cabinet approves MoU between India and European Union on water cooperation
Science & Technology
- Maharashtra to be on the crest of science
- Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to builders of molecular machines
Key Facts for Prelims
- Shyamji Krishna Varma’s birth anniversary
- Solar Powered Guard Van of Goods (Freight) Train
Polity & Governance
Cabinet approves amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014
The Union Cabinet on 5 October 2016 approved the amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.
- The HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014 was drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV.
- There are no financial implications of the Bill.
Provisions of the Bill:
- The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
- It seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.
- It seeks to provide for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV.
- It aims to enhance access to health care services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.
- It lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited. These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health care services, provision of insurance, etc.
- It prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
- It provides for Guardianship for minors.
- It requires that No person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order.
- It also asks Central and State governments to take measures to prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS, provide anti-retroviral therapy, facilitate their access to welfare schemes, lay guidelines for the care and treatment of children with HIV or AIDS.
- It makes provision for appointment of an ombudsman by State Governments to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and penal actions in case of non-compliance.
New regime at RBI debuts with rate cut
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its fourth bi-monthly monetary policy review for year 2016-17 has cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25%.
- With this, the Reserve Bank of India’s key policy interest rate has now been cut to its lowest level since 2011.
- This monetary policy decision was taken by the newly constituted Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
- This was also Urjit Patel’s maiden monetary policy announcement as RBI Governor.
- All the six members of MPC unanimously decided to cut key policy rate with the aim of achieving a midterm inflation target of 4% within a band of plus or minus 2%. With this, RBI moved away from tradition of RBI governor having the final say on monetary policy decisions.
Policy Rates changes:
Repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF):
- Reduced by 0.25 basis points to 6.25%.
Reverse repo rate under the LAF:
- It was adjusted to 5.75%.
Marginal standing facility (MSF) and Bank Rate:
- It was adjusted to 6.75%.
Reserve Ratios Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks:
- Unchanged at 4.0% of net demand and time liability (NDTL).
Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR):
Govt approves over Rs 500 crore for development of Sagar Port project in West Bengal
The Central Government has given in principle approval to a grant of Rs. 515 crores to make the development of the proposed Sagar Port project in West Bengal financially viable.
- This is part of the continuous efforts by the Ministry of Shipping during the last two years for the development of this port.
A Special Purpose Vehicle, Bhor Sagar Port Limited (BSPL) has been incorporated for the implementation of the project, with Kolkata Port Trust holding 74% equity and the Government of West Bengal holding 26% equity.
A road-cum-rail bridge is proposed over the river Muriganga to connect the Sagar island to the mainland.
The connectivity of this road-cum-rail bridge to the National Highways network and the railway network has also been taken up in right earnest. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has agreed, in- principle, to take up widening of NH-117 to a four-lane road from Kakdwip to Joka and up to the rail-cum-road bridge to the Sagar Island.
Where is Sagar island?
- Sagar island is an island in the Ganges delta, lying on the continental shelf of Bay of Bengal about 100 km south of Kolkata.
- It comes under South 24 Parganas District in West Bengal. It is governed by the State government of West Bengal.
Bilateral & International Relations
Cabinet approves MoU with the AARDO in the field of rural development
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) for capacity building programmes in the field of rural development.
Under this MoU:
- Capacity building programmes for AARDO member countries will be organized every year at various Institutions of Excellence in India such as National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Indian Institute of Management and others.
- The duration of each training programme shall be of two to three weeks. The Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development Management Course at NIRD & PR under this scheme will be for one year.
About African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO):
- The African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) is an autonomous, inter-Governmental organization established in 1962 with the objective of promoting cooperation among the countries of the African – Asian Region.
- It has its headquarters in New Delhi.
- It works in the direction of eradicating thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty in the region.
India and AARDO:
- India is one of the Founder Members of the Organization and is the largest contributor in terms of membership contribution of 1,41,100 US dollars.
- Since the year 2009, India is continuing to provide an Additional Contribution of 600000 US dollars to AARDO for each triennium to expand its scale and scope of the Capacity Building Programmes.
Cabinet approves MoU between India and European Union on water cooperation
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the signing of MoU between India and European Union in the field of water resources.
- The MoU envisages strengthening the technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and the European Union in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
- It provides technical exchange on water issues, including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.
- The MoU aims to identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences could be beneficial to develop cooperation in the field of water management.
- It envisions a more sustainable management of water resources in India with an objective of tackling the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate.
- A Joint Working Group shall be formed to monitor the activities to be carried out in fulfillment of the MoU.
The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been envisaging bilateral cooperation with other countries in water resources development through sharing of policy and technical expertise, conducting of training courses, workshops, and study tours.
Keeping in view the success of the European Union in distribution of water resources, water pricing, water use efficiency to protect water resources and quality, such as switching to less water-demanding crops, etc., it was decided to have an agreement with Israel to benefit from their experience.
The EU States have already adopted water pricing policies to provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently thereby contributing to environmental objectives.[Ref: PIB]
Science & Technology
Maharashtra to be on the crest of science
Maharashtra State Cabinet has decided to hand over 40.68 hectare government land to the Atomic Energy Department to build the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory Project (LIGO India Project) at Dudhala village in Hingoli district.
- With this project, India will join an elite league of countries that support research on gravitational waves. Besides the U.S, U.K, Italy, Germany and Japan have ongoing research in the area.
- The proposed LIGO-India project aims to move one Advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India. LIGO-India project is envisaged as an international collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory and three lead institutions in the IndIGO consortium:
- Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) Gandhinagar,
- Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune and
- Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore.
- LIGO lab would provide the complete design and all the key detector components. Indian scientists would provide the infrastructure to install the detector at a suitable site in India and would be responsible for commissioning it.
- The proposed observatory would be operated jointly by IndIGO and the LIGO-Lab and would form a single network along with the LIGO detectors in USA and Virgo in Italy.
- The LIGO project is run with the collaboration of 90 universities and research institutions. Thirty people of Indian origin are part of the LIGO project.
In April this year, India and United States had signed an MoU to set up the LIGO Observatory that recently proved the existence of gravitational waves envisaged by Albert Einstein nearly a century ago.
The two current LIGO Observatories are located at Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, and are operated by Caltech and MIT.[Ref: The Hindu]
Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to builders of molecular machines
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2016 has been awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for developing molecular machines.
- Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has chosen them for this award for their individual efforts in developing molecular machines.
What are molecular machines?
- Molecular machines or nanomachines are the world’s smallest machines.
- Their working is inspired by proteins that naturally act as biological machines within cells.
- Molecular machines are discrete number of synthetic molecular components fused together.
- They produce quasi-mechanical movements in response to specific external stimuli such as light or temperature change.
- Molecular machines can be put to work as tiny motors, pistons ratchets or wheels to produce mechanical motion and can move objects many time their size.
Significance of the Molecular machines:
- Molecular machines can be developed to function as artificial muscles to power tiny robots or even prosthetic limbs in case of Bionics.
- They may lead to developments like new sensors, materials and energy storage systems.
- They can be used to deliver drugs within the human body directly to target a specific area of tissue to medicate or cancerous cells.
- They can be used to design of a molecular computer which could be placed inside the body to detect disease even before any symptoms are exhibited.
Key Facts for Prelims
Shyamji Krishna Varma’s birth anniversary
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to freedom fighter Shyamji Krishna Varma on his birth anniversary celebrated on 4th October.
About Shyamji Krishna Varma:
- Shyamji Krishna Varma was an Indian revolutionary fighter, lawyer and journalist.
- He founded the Indian Home Rule Society, India House and The Indian Sociologist in London.
- The India House and The Indian Sociologist rapidly developed as an organised meeting point for radical nationalists among Indian students in Britain at the time and one of the most prominent centres for revolutionary Indian nationalism outside India. Most famous among the members of this organisation was Veer Savarkar.
- Shyamji Krishan was also an admirer of Lokmanya Tilak and supported him during the Age of Consent bill controversy of 1890. However, he rejected the petitioning, praying, protesting, cooperating and collaborating policy of the Congress Party.
- An admirer of Dayanand Saraswati’s approach of cultural nationalism, and of Herbert Spencer, Krishna Varma believed in Spencer’s dictum: “Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative”.
Solar Powered Guard Van of Goods (Freight) Train
Indian Railways has flagged off a new Guard Van for goods train which is equipped with solar-powered light and fan, besides bio-toilet.
Besides fan and light, mobile charging facility supported by solar power generated through rooftop panel has been provided in the guard van.