National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 15th April 2019

UPI and E-Wallets

Topic: Economy

In News: While digital payments overall have been growing strongly, people are changing the way they transact, choosing bank-to-bank methods such as the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) over other instruments such as e-wallets.

More on the Topic:

  • An analysis of data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and some industry players from April 2018 to March 2019 shows that not only is the UPI platform outperforming e-wallets in terms of the value of transactions done, but it is also eating away at e-wallets’ market share in specific areas such as person-to-merchant (P2M) transactions.
  • Payments made on the UPI platform saw a remarkable growth of over 400% in the April to March period, from a little more than Rs. 27,000 crore in April 2018 to Rs. 1.35 lakh crore in March 2019.
  • The rapid growth of UPI is accompanied by a reasonably strong growth in the value of transactions done using e-wallets, but the latter’s growth has not taken off much following the fillip it received in the aftermath of demonetisation in November 2016.
  • E-wallets saw total transaction value grow 210% in the November 2016 to March 2017 period, but this has since slowed to 123% in the April 2018 to February 2019 period.

About E- Wallets:

  • A digital wallet refers to an electronic device or online service that allows an individual to make electronic transactions. This can include purchasing items on-line with a computer or using a smartphone to purchase something at a store. An individual’s bank account can also be linked to the digital wallet.

About UPI:

  • Unified Payments Interface is an instant real-time payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India facilitating inter-bank transactions. The interface is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India and works by instantly transferring funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform


Know Your Customer/Client (KYC) process

Topic: Economy

In News: One seemingly-onerous prerequisite for making any sort of investment, such as in mutual funds, is to complete the Know Your Customer/Client (KYC) process.

More on the Topic:

  • KYC or Know Your Customer is the mechanism through which banks and other investment destinations verify the identity of the customer to ensure that no fraud, theft, or duplication takes place.

Why is KYC important?

  • KYC is important from both a practical and legal standpoint. Practically speaking, a thorough KYC ensures that nobody can impersonate you to access your bank account or alter any of your investments, or even withdraw them.
  • KYC is meant to provide several layers of information to the organisation so that it can easily and quickly verify the identity of the customer even if one data point had been compromised. In most cases, verification can become as simple as confirming your address, or your date of birth.
  • Legally speaking, KYC is mandatory for mutual funds investments and also for opening bank accounts. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) together decided on this in 2012.

What is needed for KYC?

  • SEBI had announced a common KYC process to provide uniformity and consistency across all the SEBI-registered investment intermediaries. Not only did this make it easier for customers to comply with KYC procedures, it also helped portfolio managers, mutual fund companies, venture capital funds and stock brokers curb the duplication of documents.
  • The documents needed are for ID proof (any one of PAN card, driving licence, passport copy, voter ID, Aadhaar card or bank photo passbook) and proof of address (recent land line or mobile bill, electricity bill, passport copy, recent demat account statement, latest bank passbook, ration card, voter ID, rental agreement, driving license or Aadhaar card).
  • The KYC process can be done either offline with physical submission of copies of the documents or online using Aadhaar and one-time password (OTP) on the phone number linked to the Aadhaar.

Source: The Hindu

Oil consuming bacteria found below ocean

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: Scientists have discovered a unique oil eating bacteria in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the earth’s oceans, a finding that may pave way for sustainable ways to clean up oils spills.

More on the topic:

  • Oceans are polluted by oil on a daily basis from oil spills, routine shipping, run-offs and dumping.
  • Oil spills make up about 12% of the oil that enters the ocean. The rest come from shipping travel, drains and dumping.
  • An oil spill from a tanker is a severe problem because there is such a huge quantity of oil being spilt into one place.
  • Oil spills cause a very localised problem but can be catastrophic to local marine wildlife such as fish, birds and sea otters.
  • Oil cannot dissolve in water and forms a thick sludge in the water. This suffocates fish, gets caught in the feathers of marine birds stopping them from flying and blocks light from photosynthetic aquatic plants.

Source: The Hindu

World’s largest plane

Topic: Science and Technology

In News: The world’s largest aeroplane — with two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines — made its first test flight in California.

More on the Topic:

  • The mega jet, called Stratolaunch, carried out its maiden voyage over the Mojave desert.
  • It is designed to carry into space, and drop, a rocket that would in turn ignite to deploy satellites.
  • It is supposed to provide a more flexible way to deploy satellites than vertical takeoff rockets because this way all that is needed is a long runway for takeoff.
  • The aircraft is so big that its wing span is longer than a football field, or about 1.5 times that of an Airbus A380.
  • Specifically, the wing span is 117 metres while it is just under 80 metres for an Airbus A380.

Source:The Hindu

Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) Report

Topic: Reports in news

In News: India has a shortage of an estimated 600,000 doctors and 2 million nurses, say scientists who found that the lack of staff who are properly trained in administering antibiotics is preventing patients from accessing live-saving drugs.

More on the Topic:

  • Even when antibiotics are available, patients are often unable to afford them. High out-of-pocket medical costs to the patient are compounded by limited government spending for health services, according to the report by the U.S.-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP).
  • Worldwide, the irrational use of antibiotics and poor antimicrobial stewardship lead to treatment failure and propagate the spread of drug resistance which, in turn, further narrows the available array of effective antibiotics.
  • Lack of access to antibiotics kills more people currently than does antibiotic resistance.
  • In India, 65% of health expenditure is out-of-pocket, and such expenditures push some 57 million people into poverty each year.

Doctor to patient ratio:

  • In India, there is one government doctor for every 10,189 people (the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a ratio of 1:1,000), or there is a deficit of 600,000 doctors, and the nurse:patient ratio is 1:483, implying a shortage of two million nurses.

Model Mains Question: one of the central problems in india’s healthcare system has been the deficit of health care workers. Discuss the issues caused by low health care workers and what needs to be done?


Lipstick seeds

Topic: Agriculture

In News:The non-carcinogenic lipstick seed cultivated in the backyard of Adivasi habitations in Rampachodavaram, Chaparai, and Maredumilli in Andhra Pradesh gives new livelihood opportunity to the adivasis.

More on the Topic:

  • The plants in his backyard gives  a regular income thrice in a year.
  • The seeds have a huge demand across the world as they are natural colour agents and are considered to be non-carcinogenic.
  • The seeds reportedly have healing properties and used in treating digestive disorders, weak bones, headache, neural tube defects, eye ailments and respiratory problems.
  • Besides wild turmeric and tobacco, Annatto is the most common backyard plant in Maredumilli, Rampachodavaram, and Chaparai Agency areas, and in many parts of the Eastern Ghats.
  • Besides lipstick, the plant’s seed extract is used as a natural colouring agent in cheese, food preparations, bakery products and sweets across the world.
  • However, these rare seeds have no fixed price as there is no organised trade in the tribal areas.
  • The seeds command much higher value in the international market. About 250 tonnes of Annatto is exported from India every year, and it is mainly grown and marketed in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Odisha and Karnataka.

Source: Businessline

Homo Luzonensis

Topic: Science and Technology

In News:Traces of extinct species of human named Homo Luzonensis has been found in the Luzon island of Philippines.

More on the Topic:

  • The new specimens from Callao Cave, in the north of Luzonhave been dated to between 67,000 years and 50,000 years ago.
  • The finger and toe bones of the spices are curved, suggesting climbing was still an important activity for this species.
  • Its physical features are a mixture of those found in very ancient human ancestors and in more recent people.
  • Homo luzonensis has some physical similarities to recent humans, but in other features hark back to the australopithecines, upright-walking ape-like creatures that lived in Africa between two and four million years ago, as well as very early members of the genus Homo.
  • Homo erectus has long thought to have been the first member of our direct line to leave the African homeland – around 1.9 million years ago.
  • And given that Luzon was only ever accessible by sea, the find raises questions about how pre-human species might have reached the island.



Topic: Organisations in News

In News:Recently WSIS awarded prestigious UN awards to Bengal government’s schemes Utkarsh Bangla (youth skill development program), Sabuj Sathi(Bicycle distribution scheme).

More on the Topic:

  • The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community.
  • The WSIS Forum is co-organized by The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Source: The Hindu

Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO)

Topic: Organisations in News

In News:The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has asked commonly-used antibiotics manufacturers to ensure its details be made available to the general public. This decision was taken considering directives from the National Co-ordination Centre of the Pharmacovigilance Programme of India (PvPI).

More on the Topic:

  • The PvPI was started by the Government of India on July 2010 with the AIIMS New Delhi as the National Coordination Centre for monitoring Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) in the country for safe-guarding Public Health.
  • Pharmacovigilance is defined as the science relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects, principally long term and short term adverse effects of medicines.
  • The CDSCO has a nation-wide Pharmacovigilance Programme for protecting the health of the patients by promising drug safety.
  • The Programme is coordinated by the Indian Pharmacopeia commission, Ghaziabad as a National Coordinating Centre (NCC).

About CDSCO:

  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
  • Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.

Source: PIB

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