70 Days WAR Plan

Day#53 Current Affairs Flash Cards [70 Days WAR Plan]

Marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR); Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code; Quality Council of India; ‘2015 BZ509’; National Hydrology Project; India biodiversity awards 2018; Dust storm; Small Saving Schemes (SSSs); Chakmas and Hajongs; Biomimetics; Colony collapse disorder
By IT's Core Team
May 13, 2019




Define below terms recently appeared in news:

·        Biomimetics

·        Colony collapse disorder

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  • Biomimetics or biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.
  • Living organisms have evolved well-adapted structures and materials over geological time through natural selection.

Colony collapse disorder:

  • Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees.




Chakma Hajongs sometimes appeared in news. Who are they? And why were they in news?

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Chakma Hajongs

  • The Chakmas and Hajongs are ethnic people who lived in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, most of which are located in Bangladesh.
  • Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists, while Hajongs are Hindus.
  • They are an ethnic group scattered in Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal of India.
  • They are found in northeast India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
  • Within the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Chakmas are the largest ethnic group and make up half of the region’s population.
  • They have their own language, customs and culture, and profess Theravada Buddhism. The community is headed by the Chakma Raja.

What is the issue?

  • They are the refugees to India, that were systematically forced out from Bangladesh.
  • Firstly, they were displaced from their original homesteads because of the Kaptai hydroelectric dam on the Karnaphuli river in the early 1960s, and there was no rehabilitation and compensation.
  • Later, they became victims of religious persecution in East Pakistan, and fled to India.
  • Although all of them were treated as refugees originally, the Government of India decided to grant them citizenship under Section 5(i)(a) of the Citizenship Act on the basis of a joint statement by the PMs of India and Bangladesh in 1972.
  • A group of Chakmas resorted to armed conflict with Bangladeshi forces under the name ‘Shanti Bahini’.
  • The conflict increased the inflow of refugees to India.
  • Bangladesh was willing to take back a section of Chakma refugees living in India, but most of them were unwilling, fearing the return of religious persecution.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, which came into being the same year as a Union Territory, immediately opposed this, and continues to do so.
  • The Chakma and Hajong refugees did not have citizenship and land rights. They were provided basic amenities by the state government.
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court had given a deadline to the central government to confer citizenship to these refugees within three months.
  • However, instead of that the state and the Centre began consultations on the issue.

Why in news?

  • The Union government is considering granting citizenship to over a lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees, who have been living in India for over 50 years.
  • The citizenship will not entitle the refugees to rights enjoyed by Scheduled Tribes in the state, including land ownership.




What are Small Saving Schemes (SSSs)? And what are its significance?

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Small Saving Scheme:

  • Small Savings Schemes are government run social welfare schemes that provide higher interest rate.
  • The interest rates of all small saving schemes are revised on a quarterly basis.
  • They are fixed on the basis of G-Sec yields of the previous three months.
  • Funds collected under SSS are the liabilities of the Union government accounted for in the Public Accounts of India and the government acts like a banker or trustee.
  • The scheme is operated through Post offices, Public and Private banks and Small Saving Agent across the country.

The Small Savings Schemes can be grouped as-

  • Post office Deposits:
    • Post Office Savings Account, Post Office Time Deposits (1,2,3 and 5 years), Post Office Recurring Deposits, Post Office Monthly Account,
  • Savings Certificates:
    • National Savings Certificate and Kisan Vikas Patra
  • Social Security Schemes:
    • Public Provident Fund, Senior Citizens Savings Scheme, and Sukanya Samriddhi Account.

Significance of small savings schemes:

  • The Small Saving Schemes (SSSs) are important source of household savings in India.
  • Small savings schemes are designed to provide safe and attractive investment options to the public and at the same time to mobilise resources for development.
  • Small saving schemes helps to support the social security objectives at the same time, helping as a tool of resource mobilization for the government.

National Small Savings Fund (NSSF)

  • It was established in 1999 within the Public Account of India for pooling the money from different SSSs. Collections from all small savings schemes are credited to the NSSF.
  • The NSSF is administered by the Government of India, Ministry of Finance under National Small Savings Fund Rules, 2001, which is derived from Article 283(1) of the Constitution.
  • Withdrawals under small savings schemes by the depositors are made out of this Fund.
  • The money in the account are used by the centre and states to finance their fiscal deficit.
  • The balance in the Fund is invested in Central and State Government Securities.




What is “marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR)”?

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Marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR):

  • Marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) was introduced by RBI which has replaced ‘base Rate’.
  • The Base Rate was introduced by RBI in 2010 to regulate the lending systems by the banks.
  • The Base Rate was calculated on the basis of:
    • Cost of funds
    • Operating expenses to run the banks
    • Profit
    • Negative carry on CRR and SLR
  • MCLR refers to the minimum interest rate of a bank below which it cannot lend, except in some cases allowed by the RBI.
  • The MCLR comprises of:
    • Marginal cost of funds
    • Negative carry on account of’ Cash reserve ratio (CRR)
    • Operating Cost, and
    • Tenor Premium.
  • It describes the method by which the minimum interest rate for loans is determined by a bank – on the basis of marginal cost or the additional or incremental cost of arranging one more rupee to the prospective borrower.
  • Commercial banks must use the MCLR to set their interest rates.
  • It ensured that interest rates for different types of customers would be fixed.
  • It applies to customers who wish to lend money from the bank.
  • The MCLR would not calculate the rate of interest that will be charged to them by the bank.
  • However, certain loans like Fixed rate loans of tenor above three years, special loan schemes formulated by Government of India, Advances to banks’ depositors against their own deposits, Advances to banks’ own employees etc. are not linked to MCLR.
  • From 1st April 2016 the RBI made it mandatory for all banks to make marginal Cost of funds-based lending rates.
  • The MCLR should be revised monthly by considering some new factors including the repo rate and other borrowing rates.
  • Banks will review and publish their MCLR of different maturities, every month, on a pre-announced date.

Banks may publish every month the internal benchmark/ MCLR for the following maturities:

  • Overnight MCLR,
  • One-month MCLR,
  • Three-month MCLR,
  • Six-month MCLR,
  • One-year MCLR.
  • MCLR for any other maturity which the bank considers fit.
  • There cannot be lending below the MCLR of a particular maturity, for all loans linked to that benchmark.
  • Fixed rate loans upto three years are also priced with reference to MCLR.

Why was MCLR introduced?

  • REPO RATE was not considered while calculation of base rate. So any cut or decrease in repo rate by RBI was not being forwarded by the banks to their customers.
  • To improve the transmission of policy rates into the lending rates of banks.
  • To bring transparency in the methodology followed by banks for determining interest rates on advances.
  • To ensure availability of bank credit at interest rates which are fair to borrowers as well as banks.
  • To enable banks to become more competitive and enhance their long run value and contribution to economic growth.




What is a Dust storm? Why was the recent storm in India so devastating?

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About Dust Storm:

  • A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions.
  • Dust storms are also known as Haboob, which is Arabic for violent wind.
  • Dust storms arise when a strong wind front blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface.
  • Fine particles are transported by saltation and suspension, a process that moves soil from one place and deposits it in another.
  • The term sandstorm is used most often in the context of desert sandstorms, especially in the Sahara Desert, or places where sand is a more prevalent soil type than dirt or rock.
  • The strong storms can develop in many parts of the world and can travel for thousands of miles – even across oceans.
  • in addition to fine particles obscuring visibility, a considerable amount of larger sand particles is blown closer to the surface.
  • Dust storms also commonly occur with thunderstorms, and before it is about to rain.

Dust storm in India:

  • Dust storms are a common occurrence in the northern part of India during the summer.
  • Recently in May 2018 India faced the most dangerous dust storm ever.
  • It was of high intensity and it struck during night that made it more devastating tis time as people went aware of it and couldn’t save themselves.
  • It was an intense downward movement of air, known as downburst.
  • The main area affected were from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • By the time they had reached further, they also became thunderstorms with lashing rains.
  • Meteorologists say easterly winds from the Bay of Bengal brought in moisture that merged with the destructive winds from the west.
  • High temperatures, moisture and an agitated atmosphere make a perfect combination for storms of this type.
  • The extraordinary dust and thunderstorms have come just when concerns have been mounting about the rapid rate of desertification in several Indian states.
  • Increasing desertification would mean more intense and damaging dust storms.

The reason that make dust storm dangerous are:

  • The dust storms are deadly due to many reasons, the main reason being the dust particles themselves.
  • Because they are so minuscule, they can slip past the body’s natural defences, and infiltrate the respiratory system.
  • This can be a catastrophic threat to health, especially if other harmful substances hitch a ride with the storm.
  • These include arsenic and other heavy metals, fertilisers and pesticides, viruses and bacteria.
  • For people suffering with asthma this could be disastrous, as inhalation of dust could lead to the worsening of lung functions. It could also lead to dust pneumonia.
  • They can reduce visibility to near zero, meaning if you are caught unaware you are in trouble.
  • The particles can also make their way into tiny cracks and crevices, causing mechanical breakdowns and breakages.





Which two conservation communities from northeast India won India biodiversity awards 2018?

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  • Two community-led organisations from Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland bagged the 2018 India Biodiversity Awards in recognition for conservation of wild species.
    1. Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve Management Committee (Arunachal Pradesh) and
    2. Lemsachenlok Organization (Nagaland)
  • The partnership between the forest department and members of indigenous communities were key to conservation.
  • Singchung Bugun Village Community conserved the Bugun Liocichla, a critically endangered bird.
  • Lemsachenlok Organization has successfully created an 8-10 sq km Community Conserved Area to encourage coexistence and reduce human-wildlife conflict. It has imposed a ban on logging, hunting, fishing and trapping.

About biodiversity awards 2018:

  • The government of India, in partnership with UNDP India, initiated the India Biodiversity Awards in 2012.
  • The award is joint initiative of:
    • Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC),
    • National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and
    • United Nations Development programme (UNDP).
  • India Biodiversity Award takes place once every two years.
  • The 2018 Award celebration commemorated with the International Day for Biological Diversity 2018 which was held under the theme “Celebrating 25 years of Action for Biodiversity.”
  • It is aimed to recognise and honour outstanding models of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and governance at the grassroots level.
  • The fourth edition of the India Biodiversity Awards on 22 May on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity recognizes the work of local communities committed towards biodiversity conservation in the areas of:
    1. Conservation of Wild and Domesticated Species
    2. Sustainable Use of Biological Resources
    3. Replicable Mechanisms for Access and Benefit Sharing
    4. Best Biodiversity Management Committees
  • It recognises contribution of a range of stakeholders towards the conservation of biodiversity.




What is National Hydrology Project?

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About National Hydrology Project:

  • National Hydrology Project was approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister of India in 2016.
  • It also provides for establishment of National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) as an independent organization under the control of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD&GR).
  • NHP is intended for setting up of a system for timely and reliable water resources data acquisition, storage, collation and management.
  • The NHP will help in gathering Hydro-meteorological data which will be stored and analysed on a real time basis and can be seamlessly accessed by any user at the State/District/village level.
  • The project envisages to cover the entire country as the earlier hydrology projects covered only 13 States.
  • NHP will improve and expand hydrology data and information systems, strengthen water resources operation and planning systems, and enhance institutional capacity for water resources management.
  • It will strengthen the information base and institutional capacity for evidence-based decision making in water resources planning and operational management at the basin scale across India using the latest technology and tools.
  • NHP will contribute to the GOI Digital India initiative by integrating water resources information across state and central agencies.
  • It has four-pronged strategy:
    • Modernizing monitoring
    • Enhancing analytical tools
    • Transforming knowledge access
    • Modernizing institutions
  • It will also provide tools/systems for informed decision making through Decision Support Systems (DSS) for water resources assessment, flood management, reservoir operations, drought management, etc.
  • NHP also seeks to build capacity of the State and Central sector organisations in water resources management through the use of Information Systems.


  • The project objectives are to improve the extent, quality and accessibility of water resources information, and to strengthen the capacity of water resources management institutions in India.
  • Development of real time flood forecasting and reservoir operations in a manner that does not result in sudden opening of gates which inundates the area down below;
  • It will facilitate integrated water resource management by adopting river basin approach through collation and management of hydro-meteorological data. This will also help in water resource assessment – as surface as well as ground water, for water resource planning, prioritize its allocations and its consumptive use for irrigation;
  • It will help in providing real time information on a dynamic basis to the farmers about the ground water position for them to accordingly plan their cropping pattern;
  • This will also help in promoting efficient and equitable use of water particularly of ground water at the village level;
  • This will also provide information on quality of water




‘2015 BZ509’ recently in news. What is it?

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‘2015 BZ509’ recently in news. What is it?


  • Asteroid

About ‘2015 BZ509’ Asteroid:

  • 2015 BZ509 is an object in Jupiter’s co-orbital region with a retrograde motion around the Sun, is the first known asteroid to have been captured from the interstellar medium.
  • All the planets and majority of other objects as well, travel around the Sun in the same direction but 2015 BZ509 moves in the opposite direction in what is known as a retrograde orbit.
  • How 2015 BZ509 came to move in this way while sharing Jupiter’s orbit has until now been a mystery.
  • If 2015 BZ509 were a native of our system, it should have had the same original direction as all of the other planets and asteroids, inherited from the cloud of gas and dust that formed them.
  • Asteroid immigration from other star systems occurs because the Sun initially formed in a tightly-packed star cluster, where every star had its own system of planets and asteroids.




What is the role of Quality Council of India?

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About Quality Council of India:

  • Quality Council of India (QCI) is an autonomous body that works to assure quality standards across all spheres of economic and social activities.
  • It was set up in 1997 jointly by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Government of India and the Indian Industry represented by the three premier industry associations i.e.
    1. Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM),
    2. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and
    3. Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
  • It aims to establish and operate national accreditation structure and promote quality through National Quality Campaign.
  • QCI is governed by a Council comprising of 38 members including the Chairman and Secretary General.
  • Chairman of QCI is appointed by the Prime Minister on recommendation of the industry to the government.
  • The Council has an equal representation of Government, Industry and other Stakeholders.
  • It is neither funded nor controlled by the government and is a non-profit organization with its own Memorandum of Association.

Role of QCI:

  • The Council is the apex level body responsible for formulating the strategy, general policy, constitution and monitoring of various components of QCI including the accreditation boards with objective to ensure transparent and credible accreditation system.
  • To achieve the Mission of QCI by playing a pivotal role in propagating, adoption and adherence to quality standards.
  • It monitors the progress of activities and appeal mechanisms set by the respective boards.
  • It functions through the executive bodies (boards/committees) that implement the strategy, policy and operational guidance set by the Quality Council of India.
  • Achieve international acceptance and recognition of various programs offered by the Boards.
  • To provide accreditation services in the fields of education, healthcare, industries, institutions, professionals, quality promotion and quality assessment.
  • It promotes the adoption of quality standards relating to Quality Management Systems (ISO 14001 Series), Food Safety Management Systems (ISO 22000 Series) and Product Certification and Inspection Bodies through the accreditation services provided by National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB).
  • To realize the objective of improving quality competitiveness of Indian products and services, QCI provides strategic direction to the quality movement in the country by establishing conformity assessment system.




What does Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code deals with?

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  • Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalized sexual activities “against the order of nature”, including homosexual activities.
  • Accordingly, whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with:
    • imprisonment for life, or
    • with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and
    • shall also be liable to fine.
  • On 24 August 2017 in a landmark judgment (also known as the Puttuswamy judgement), the SC had upheld the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right under the Constitution.
  • The SC also had called for equality and condemned discrimination, stated that the protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of the fundamental rights and that the rights of the LGBT population are real and founded on constitutional doctrine.
  • The Puttuswamy judgement is believed to have implications for section 377 as consensual sexual acts in private can no longer be overseen by law.
  • In January 2018, a three-member SC bench heard a petition filed by five people asking the SC to revisit the judgment.
  • The case was referred to a larger bench and help was sought from the Union government.
  • On 10 July 2018, a five-member constitutional bench of the SC commenced hearing of the pleas challenging the constitutionality of section 377.
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