The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced a host of measures to provide liquidity support to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).
They shall receive ₹50,000 crore worth of liquidity booster.
• RBI has also decided to give them certain benefits for loanswhich are being extended to the commercial real estate sector.
• The RBI has also decided to provide special refinance facilityof ₹50,000 crore to NABARD, SIDBI and NHB to enable them to meet sectoral credit needs.
Important value additions:
Reserve Bank of India
• It is India’s central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee.
• RBI is the regulator of entire Banking in India.
• RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India.
• RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act,1934.
Non-Banking Financial Company
• It is a financial institution that does not have a full banking license or is not supervised by a national or international banking regulatory agency.
• The most important difference between non-banking financial companies and banks is that NBFCs don’t take demand deposits.
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)
• It is an Apex Development Financial Institution in India.
• It deals with matters concerning Policy Planning and Operationsin the field of credit for Agriculture and other Economic activities in Rural areas in India.
• It is active in developing Financial Inclusion policy.
• It was established on the recommendations of B.Sivaramman Committee, on 12 July 1982.
Small industrial Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
• It is a development financial institution in India.
• It serves as the principal financial institution in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.
• It was established on April 2, 1990, through an Act of Parliament.
• It is headquartered in Lucknow.
• It operates under the Department of Financial Services, Government of India.
National Housing Bank (NHB)
• It is a Government of India owned entity.
• It was set up on 9 July 1988 under the National Housing Bank Act, 1987.
• It is an apex financial institution for housing.
Context: In order to restrict Chinese investments, prior government approval has been made mandatory for foreign direct investments (FDI) from countries which share a land border with India.
• Revised FDI policy has stated that entities from countries which share a land border with India will now be permitted to invest only under approval route.
• Previously, only investmentsfrom Pakistan and Bangladesh faced such restrictions.
• The revised FDI policy is aimed at preventing opportunistic takeovers/acquisitions of Indian companies due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
• The rules shall apply to fresh as well as existing FDI.
• Transfer of ownership of any existing or future FDI where the direct or indirect beneficiary is from these countries will also require government approval.
• This restriction will also apply if the beneficial owner of the investment is an entity situatedin or a citizen of such countries.
Important value additions:
India’s FDI policy
• A foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment in the form of a controlling ownership in a business in one country by an entity based in another country.
• India’s FDI policy allows foreign investment in certain sectors under the automatic route.
• 100% FDI is permitted under the automatic route in manufacturing, oil and gas, greenfield airports, construction, railway infrastructure etc.
• In other sectors, FDI is allowed under the automatic route upto a certain threshold, say 26% or 49%.
• Such conditions apply todefence, broadcast and print media, aviation and other sectors.
• There is also a list of prohibited sectors, such as lottery, cigarettes, atomic energy where FDI is not permitted.
India’s neighbouring countries
India shares a land border with:
What is a social vaccine?
• A social vaccine is a metaphor for a series of social and behavioural measures that governments can use to raise public consciousness about unhealthy situations through social mobilisation
• A social vaccine addresses barriers and facilitators of behaviour change, whether attitudinal, social, cultural, or economic.
• Social Vaccine supplements information, education, and communication (IEC) with targeted social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) strategies.
Advantages of Social Vaccine achieved through Social Mobilization
• Empowers populations to resist unhealthy practices
• Increase resilience
• Foster advocacy for change
• Drive political will to take action in the interests of society
• Hold governments accountable
• Lessons from HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) Pandemic
• HIV that causes AIDS is believed to have made the zoonotic jumpfrom monkeys through chimpanzees to humans in Africa as early as the 1920s
• However, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was detected in 1981 & was a pandemic by 1985.
• Extent of Pandemic: From 1981 to 2018, around 74.9 million people worldwide were HIV-infected, and around 32.0 million died from AIDS-related illnesses.
• Social vaccine helped “flatten the curve” till effective treatments were discovered that dramatically reduced mortality, viral loads and infection transmission.
How Social Vaccine was used in HIV/AIDS pandemic?
• There were widespread information campaigns stating that infection occurred predominantly through sexual transmission and intravenous drug use.
• IEC and SBCC activities targeted (and partnered) individuals, community networks, leaders, social & health systems to change attitudes and behaviours.
The core preventive messages involved
• Being faithful to one sexual partner
• 100% condom use during sexual intercourse outside stable relationships
• Resisting peer-pressure for risky behaviours like intravenous drug use
• Religious and community leaders were key change agents
• For example, the Catholic Church in Uganda did not initially support promoting condoms since its use prevents life.
• However, later they acknowledged that their religion did not preclude the use of condoms to prevent deaths – which was an important turning point
How Social Vaccine can be adapted for current pandemic?
• Effective IEC and SBCC strategies should contain the persuasive messages of
• Maintaining physical distancing in social situations
• Wearing cloth masks in public by 100% of people (and 100% of the time)
• Regular disinfection of oneself and one’s surroundings.
• Leading by Example: People are more likely to practise these behaviours if all leaders promote them publicly and consistently
• Proper information, support, and materials should be made available and accessible.
• Re-purposing and funding relevant industries and small and medium businesses to produce materials such as PPE, hand sanitisers and medical equipment
Context: The Covid-19 lockdown has impacted the sale of banglore blue variety of grapes.
• Bangalore Blue, characterized by its foxy flavour (effect of a flavor substance called methyl anthranilate), is exclusively grown in Bangalore Urban, Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts.
• It is grown in red sandy loam soil at a day temperature of about 35-37 degrees Celsius and night temperature of 12-15 degree Celsius which is unique to Bangalore and its surrounding areas. The grapes develop their typical dark purple color at this temperature.
• These grapes are mostly used for making juice and wine/spirit.
• In 2013, the variety was given the Geographical Indication (GI) status.
Geographical Indication Status
• GI is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory.
• The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India.
• The Act is administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and TradeMarks- who is the Registrar of Geographical Indications.
• The Geographical Indications Registry is located at Chennai.
• The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years. It can be renewed from time to time for a further period of 10 years each.
• It is also a part of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
• Recent Examples: Tirur Vetilla(Kerala), Dindigul Lock and Kandangi Saree (Tamil Nadu), Odisha Rasagola etc.
Context: Recently, the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme has been activated as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
• The Integrated Disease Surveillance Project was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in assistance with the World Bank, in 2004.
• It continued as the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme(IDSP) during 12th Plan (2012–17)under the National Health Missionwith a domestic budget.
• Under it, a Central Surveillance Unit(CSU) at Delhi, State Surveillance Units (SSU) at all State/Union Territories (UTs) head quarters and District Surveillance Units (DSU) at all Districts have been established.
• To strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory based and IT enabled disease surveillance systems for epidemic prone diseases to monitor disease trends.
• To detect and respond to outbreaks in the early rising phase through trained Rapid Response Teams(RRTs).
• Integration and decentralization of surveillance activities through establishment of surveillance units at Centre, State and District level.
• Human Resource Development –Training of State Surveillance Officers (SSOs), District Surveillance Officers (DSOs), RRT and other medical and paramedical staff on principles of disease surveillance.
• Use of Information Communication Technology for collection, collation, compilation, analysis and dissemination of data.
• Strengthening of public health laboratories.
• Inter sectoral Coordination for zoonotic diseases.
• Helps in Controlling the Disease Outbreak:
• Data is collected on epidemic prone diseases on a weekly basis.
• The weekly data gives information on the disease trends and seasonality of diseases.
• The information is collected onthree specified reporting formats,namely “S” (suspected cases), “P” (presumptive cases) and “L” (laboratory confirmed cases) filled by Health Workers, Clinicians and Laboratory staff respectively.
• Whenever there is a rising trend of illnesses in any area, it is investigated by the RRT to diagnose and control the outbreak.
• The IDSP portal is a one stop portalwhich has facilities for data entry, view reports, outbreak reporting, data analysis, training modules and resources related to disease surveillance.
Context: Recently, the researchers at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA)have discovered hundreds ofLithium (Li) rich giant stars which indicate that lithium is being produced in the stars and accounts for its abundance in the interstellar (between stars) medium.
• The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).
• The scientists have discovered a number of super Li-rich giants with the Li quantity equal to or in some cases, more than 10 times the present value, A(Li) = 3.2 dex(measured in logarithmic scale relative to hydrogen).
• Scientists followed a two-fold strategy of systematically searching for high Li among low mass evolved stars in the Galaxy and determining the exact evolutionary phase of these high Li abundance stars.
• Hundreds of Li-rich giants were discovered by employing data from large scale ground and space missions.
• However, Li-rich giants still account for only about 1 in 100 in the Galaxy.
• The evolutionary phase of these giants was determined by analyzing relative positions of thousands of stars using their temperature and luminosity and also subjecting their independent data set to atmospheric oscillations analysisusing data from Kepler Space Telescope.
• For the first time, it was shown that the Li enhancement in giants is associated only with central He-burning stars (also known as the Red Clump Giants)
• This discovery will help to eliminate or validate many proposed theories such as planet engulfment or Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) during the red giant evolution in which helium at the center is not burning.
• Lithium (Li), is one of the three primordial elements, apart from Hydrogen (H) and Helium (He),produced in the BBN.
• This model predicts primordial Li abundance [A(Li) ~2.7~dex].
• Stars are also proposed as a likely Li source in the Galaxy and are considered as Li sinks.
• The original Li, with which stars are born, only gets depleted over stars’ life-time as Li burns at relatively very low temperatures of about 2.5x106 Kelvin (a range which is easily encountered in stars).
• In the universe, planets accompany host stars (like the Sun is the host star for the planets of the Solar system).
• As the host star evolves off the main sequence to become a white dwarf, the planets withsufficiently close orbits can be engulfed during the giant phase.
• Planetary engulfment eventsinvolve the chemical assimilation of a planet into a star's external layer.
• This can cause a change in the chemical pattern of the stellar atmosphere in a way that mirrors the composition of the rocky object engulfed.
Big Bang Nucleosynthesis
• It is the leading explanation about how the universe began.At its simplest, it says that the universe started with a small singularity and then inflated over the next 13.8 billion yearsto the cosmos currently observed.
• The Universe's light-element abundance is another important criterion by which this theory is verified.
• It is now known that the elements observed in the Universe were created in either of two ways.
• Light elements (namely deuterium, helium, and lithium) were produced in the first few minutes of the Big Bang, while elements heavier than helium are thought to have their origins in the interiors of stars which formed much later in the history of the Universe.
• The theory predicts that roughly 25% the mass of the Universe consists of Helium. It also predicts about 0.01% deuterium, and even smaller quantities of lithium.
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore have conducted the first systematic study on the gamma-ray flux variability nature of different types of blazars.
• The research work based on characterizing the flux variability nature on month-like time scales in the high energy gamma-ray (100 MeV to 300 GeV) band for different types of blazars has been published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
IIA is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
• Blazars are active galactic nuclei (AGN), whose jets are aligned with the observer’s line of sight. Some blazars are thought to host binary black holes in them and could be potential targets for future gravitational-wave searches.
Active Galactic Nuclei:
• At the center of most galaxies, there’s a massive black hole with a huge mass accumulating gas, dust, and stellar debris around it. AGN is formed when the gravitational energy of these materials, being pulled towards the black hole, is converted into light.
• A minority of AGN (~15%) emits collimated charged particles called jets travelling at speeds close to the speed of light.
• Quasar and Radio-Galaxies are also AGN.
• The difference between Quasar, radio galaxy and a Blazar is the angle of the stream/jet. If the stream is straight up, it is a radio galaxy and the observer is not in the firing line. If the stream is angled slightly towards the observer, then it is a Quasar and if the stream is angled directly towards the observer, it is a Blazar.
• Blazars are the most luminous and energetic objects in the known universe and they were found to be emitters of gamma-rays in the 1990s.
• The flux variability characteristicsof blazars on a range of time scales was found out with the help of Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope(launched in 2008) which is capable of scanning the entire sky once in three hours.
Study by Indian Institute of Astrophysics:
• The research characterised the amplitude and time scale of flux variations and then looked for similarity and/or differences in the amplitude and time scale between different types of blazars.
• With the availability of near-simultaneous data covering the gamma-ray, X-ray, ultra-violet, optical, and infrared bands, theexisting notion on high energy emission in blazars is challenged.
• The reduction of large volumes of data for a large number of sources was accomplished by the use of the High-Performance Computing facility of the IIA.
Significance of the Study
• The study can provide clues to the processes happening close to the black hole which are not visible through direct imaging. It will also enhance the knowledge of blazars.
• Exploring the Gamma-ray band of the electromagnetic spectrum will provide key inputs to constrain the high energy production site as well as the high energy emission processes.
• The results of this work will fill the gap on the knowledge of the high energy flux variability nature of blazars.
• Gamma-ray band is one of the bands of the electromagnetic spectrum on which there is limited knowledge on the flux variability of blazars.
• Localizing the site for the production of gamma-rays is one of the major problems in high energy astrophysics.
• The expertise of handling high energy data from celestial sources gained in this work will build capacity to interpret the gamma-ray data that will emerge from India's upcoming facility, the Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment (MACE) Telescope as well as from any X-ray missions by India in the future.
Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment Telescope
• It is the India's largest and the world's highest gamma-ray telescope being established at Hanle, Ladakh.
• It is being built by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad for the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC).
• It is remotely operated and runs on Solar Power.
• It will help to explore the exciting energy range of the gamma-ray energy region in between satellites and the traditional Atmospheric Cerenkov experiments.
• The telescope is named after the Russian scientist Cerenkovwho predicted that charged particles moving at high speeds in a medium, emit light.
Recently, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has criticised the Indian government for what it called“growing Islamophobia” in India.
• OIC asked the government to takesteps to protect Muslim minoritieswho are being “negatively profiled,” facing “discrimination and violence” amidst the Covid-19crisis.
• OIC urged the government to protect the rights of its minority as per its obligations under international Human Rights law.
• It also asked the government to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide of Islamophobia(dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims) in India.
• A religious gathering of muslims (Tablighi Jamaat) was held in Delhi in March. The event was linked to many of the Covid-19 positive cases in India.
• After this most sections of the media, people on social media blamed the Tablighi jamaat and muslims for deliberately spreading the Covid-19 in India.
• Earlier, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has also criticised India of “increased stigmatisation” of its muslim minorities.
• It criticized the government for the reports that Covid-19 patients werereligiously segregated at a hospitalin Ahmedabad.
• According to USCIRF, India continues to remain a “tier 2 country of particular concern”since 2009.
• Tier 2 countries are those in which “violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious” Country of Particular Concern (CPC)standard. CPCs are designated by the US State Department.
• The Indian government has denied all the allegations levelled by the USCIRF and accused the USCIRF for spreading misguided reports on the professional medical protocols followed to deal with spread of Covid-19 in India.
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
• The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states.
• It is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
• It was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on the 25th of September 1969.
• Headquarters: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
OIC and India
• India is not a member of the OIC.However, India was invited as a guest of honour at the 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministerin 2019. 2019 is the 50thanniversary of OIC.
• This marked a high point in New Delhi’s often tensed relations with the OIC.
• However, in recent months, the OIC has repeatedly criticised the Indian government’s handling of the situation in Kashmir and attacks on Muslims.
• The external affairs ministry has rejected this criticism.
• U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
• USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission,dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
• USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
• It is Headquartered at Washington DC.
ACHIEVE IAS CURRENT AFFAIRS, 20 MAY, 2020
(GS PAPER - 2)
Topics: Government Policies & Interventions
1. Context: Chhattisgarh is set to launch the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana to encourage farmers to produce more crops and help them get the right price.
(GS PAPER - 2) : Education
2. Context: Union Finance Ministry has announced several initiatives to boost Education Sector.
A comprehensive initiative called PM e-VIDYA will be launched which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education. This will enable multi-mode access to education, and includes:
(GS PAPER - 2)
Topics: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
3. Context: Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah have signed a power-sharing deal, ending months of political uncertainty.
Overview of the deal:
What’s the issue?
Significance of the deal:
U.S.- Taliban peace deal:
Significance of Peace in Afghanistan for India:
(GS PAPER - 2)
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
4. Context: The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have started what is being referred to as a ‘travel bubble’ to help put their economies back on track post-Covid lockdowns.
What is a travel bubble?
How it works?
Significance and potential:
(GS PAPER - 3)
Topics: Cyber Security
5. Context: Recently, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sent alerts to all the States, Union Territories and the central agencies on a malicious software (cerberus) threat that is taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cyber alert related to Cerberus has been sent on the basis of inputs received from the Interpol.
(Facts for Prelims)
6. Star Rating of Garbage Free Cities
Why in News?
8. The Budget 2020 proposed the setting up of an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation with the status of a deemed university under the Ministry of Culture.The National Portal and Digital Repository for Indian Museums (under the Ministry of Culture) have been launched for digitization of the collections of the Museums.