Current Affairs

 Axis bank has become the first bank in the country to introduce Iris Scan Authentication feature for Aadhaar -based transactions through its micro ATM tablets. This is being run as a pilot project in 8 branches of rural Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
Source- The Livemint

 Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched a defence industrial corridor in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. The move is part of the government’s efforts to develop specialised zones dedicated to defence production in the state. Six nodal points, Agra, Aligarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Chitrakoot and Jhansi have been identified in state for the corridor. There will be an exhibition of products by the armed forces, defence public sector undertakings and DRDO which are planned to be indigenised over the next five years. Another defence corridor was also launched in Tamil Nadu. 
Source- DD News

 Union Cabinet has given approval for raising of four additional battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to strengthen the India’s disaster response set up. These battalions will be placed in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi National Capital Region based on their disaster vulnerability profile.
  • Key Facts
The objective of raising four additional battalions is to reduce response time keeping in view vast geographic area of the country. These four battalions will initially be raised as two battalions in Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and one battalion each in Assam Rifles (ARs) and Border Security Force (BSF). Later these four battalions will be converted into NDRF battalions.
  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
NDRF is India’s elite disaster mitigation combat force established in 2006 under The Disaster Management Act, 2005. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It functions under Union Ministry of Home Affairs. It works under National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which lays down policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management. The mandated of specialized force is to undertake special disaster response, relief, rescue operations and combat roles independently in the case of an event of any disaster (natural or man-made), accident or emergency. It also assists local authorities in launching a quick rescue and response operation to save life and property. At present there are 12 battalions in NDRF which are deployed strategically across country to provide immediate response.

 Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved release of pulses to States/UTs at discounted rate to be utilized for various Welfare Schemes from stock of pulses procured under Price Support Schemes (PSS). The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Key Facts
Under this approved Scheme, States/UT Governments will be offered to lift 34.88 lakh MT of pulses at discounted rate over prevailing wholesale market price of sourcing state on First come first serve basis. This will be one-time dispensation for 1 year period or complete disposal of 34.88 lakh MT of pulses stock whichever is earlier. Government will spend Rs. 5,237 crore for implementation of this Scheme. The decision will enable the States/UTs to use pulses in various Welfare Schemes like Public Distribution Scheme (PDS), Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Programmes (ICDP) etc etc. besides making available warehouses, which may be required in coming Kharif season for storage of commodities procured under PPS.
  • Background
Pulses production was witnessed all time high during the last 2 years in the country. Due to bumper production, Central Government also has made record procurement of pulses (45.43 lakh MT) during Kharif 2017 and Rabi 2018 marketing season under Price Support Scheme. This was coupled with increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP) will require additional procurement under Price Support Scheme.

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) beyond 12th Five Year Plan period ((2012–2017)). It will help in connecting 38,412 habitations at estimated cost of Rs. 84,934 crore. For this, fund sharing pattern between centre and states will be same (Thus, central government share will be Rs 54,900 crore and states’ share is Rs 30,034 crore).
  • Key Facts
Initially targets of PMGSY were to be achieved by March 2022, however, sunset date of achievement of PMGSY-I was pre-poned to March, 2019, with enhanced fund allocation and changed funding pattern i.e. in ratio of 60:40 between Centre and State for all States except for 8 North Eastern and 3 Himalayan States (Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir) for which it is 90:10. PMGSY-II and habitations under identified LWE blocks (100-249 population) covered by March 2020. Under, PMGSY-II, against target length of 50,000 km works of upgradation almost 32,100 km road length have been sanctioned in 13 states, which have transited to PMGSY-II. 12,000 km road length has been completed up to March, 2018 against the sanctions issued.
  • Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
The scheme was launched on 25 December 2000. It aims to provide single all-weather road connectivity to all eligible unconnected habitations in rural areas with population of 500 persons and above  (in plain areas) and 250 persons and above (in hilly states, desert areas, tribal areas and selected tribal and backward districts). Union Ministry of Rural Development is nodal ministry for implementation of Scheme. For this scheme, 75  paise  per  litre  has  been  earmarked out  of  cess  levied on high speed diesel. It considers habitation as unit for providing connectivity and not revenue village. The scheme encourages use of green technologies and non-conventional materials (like waste plastic, geo-textiles, fly-ash, iron and copper slag etc) for constructing rural roads.

 76th anniversary of Quit India movement was observed on August 8th, 2018. On this day in 1942, Mahatma Gandhi (father of the nation) had gave clarion call of Do or Die to all Indians to drive away Britishers from the country.
  • Quit India Movement
Quit India Movement (Bharat Chhodo Andolan or August Movement or August Kranti) was an important milestone in the Indian freedom struggle. It was civil disobedience movement launched at Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942 demanding an end to British Rule of India. It was launched after Mahatma Gandhi had made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on 7 August 1942. The movement called for India’s immediate independence and aimed to force British Government to negotiating table by holding Allied war effort hostage. By launching this movement, Gandhiji hoped to bring British government to negotiating table as Cripps Mission had failed and give strong footing against sending Indians to fight on behalf of Britain in World War II. Quit India Resolution drafted by Jawaharlal Nehru and was moved by him on 8th August 1942 in AICCC session and Sardar Patel seconded it. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, people across India came together to uproot imperialism.

  The Global Innovation Index 2018 was launched in New Delhi by Ratan P Watal, Principal Adviser, NITI Aayog & Member Secretary of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. The event was organized by theConfederation of Indian Industry (CII) – one of the founding partners of GII along with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). India’s rank on the Global Innovation Index (GII) has improved from 60 in 2017 to 57 in 2018. India has been consistently climbing the GII ranking for the past two years. 
Source- Press Information Bureau (PIB)

 The United Nations announced that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has chosen former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to be the UN’s new human rights chief. Bachelet would be succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein. Bachelet’s name will now go forward for consideration and approval by the 193-member UN General Assembly.
Source- The New York Times

 Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) has launched a new digital platform 'MyDeal' to simplify capital raising process through capital markets by providing real-time access to information such as investors' feedback, profiles, client orders and deal pricing. The platform contains all the information relating to a client's capital markets transaction and is updated on real-time basis. In its pilot phase, MyDeal has raised over USD 25 billion in the first seven months through over 30 transactions globally. 
Source- The Economic Times

 NITI Aayog hosted an Investors’ Conference at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra for the Holistic Development of Islands along with the respective UT Administration. The Conference was inaugurated by Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog. It attracted investment for the sustainable development of eco-tourism projects in Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands. The 11 anchor tourism projects are proposed to be implemented with private sector participation under the suitable risk-sharing model and through open-competitive bidding. 
Source- Press Information Bureau (PIB)


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