National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 25th March 2019

FinTech Conclave 2019

Topic: Economy

In News: NITI Aayog is organised a day-long FinTech Conclave at Dr. Ambedkar International Center, New Delhi.

More on the Topic

  • The objective is to shape India’s continued ascendancy in FinTech, build the narrative for future strategy and policy efforts, and to deliberate steps for comprehensive financial inclusion, The Conclave will be featuring representatives from across the financial space – central ministries, regulators, bankers, startups, service providers and entrepreneurs.
  • The valedictory session of the conclave shall include presentations consolidating sector-specific findings of the various breakout panels on themes such as Digital Onboarding of Customers/Merchants for Financial Inclusion, Building Financial Products for Millennial India, Emerging Areas of FinTech, Fast Tracking Investments in FinTech Industry and Financial Inclusion of MSME

About Fin Tech

  • Financial technology, often shortened to FinTech or fintech, is the new technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services. It is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance.
  • The use of smartphones for mobile banking, investing services and cryptocurrency are examples of technologies aiming to make financial services more accessible to the general public.

Financial Technology-India

  • India is one of the fastest growing FinTech markets globally and industry research has projected that USD 1 Trillion or 60% of retail and SME credit, will be digitally disbursed by 2029. The Indian FinTech ecosystem is the third largest in the globe, attracting nearly USD 6 billion in investments since 2014.
  • The Indian FinTech industry is creating cutting edge intellectual property assets in advanced risk management and artificial intelligence that will propel India forward in the global digital economy while simultaneously enabling paperless access to finance for every Indian.
  • Government of India’s efforts focused on Digital India and developing India Stack including Voluntary Aadhaar for financial inclusion have evoked significant interest from various stakeholders in the area of Financial Technology (FinTech).

Source: The Hindu

World Tuberculosis Day

Topic: Health

In News: World Tuberculosis Day is observed every year on 24th March, to commemorate the anniversary of Dr. Robert Koch’s discovery of the Tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in 1882.

More on the Topic:

  • The theme of World Tuberculosis Day this year is “It’s Time”. Consistent with the spirit of this theme, India has renewed its commitments and intentions to end TB by 2025, five years ahead of the global targets. This is an ambitious timeline and, given our motivation to eliminate the disease, it is achievable.

About Tuberculosis:

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis.
  • Diagnosis is made primarily based on sputum smear examination. X-rays play a secondary role in the standard diagnostic algorithm for pulmonary tuberculosis

Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program:

  • Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) is the state-run tuberculosis (TB) control initiative of the Government of India.
  • As per the National Strategic Plan 2012–17, the program has a vision of achieving a “TB free India”, and aims to achieve Universal Access to TB control services.
  • The program provides, various free of cost, quality tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment services across the country through the government health system. It seeks to employ the WHO recommended tuberculosis control strategy, DOTS(Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course), to the Indian scenario
  • Standardized treatment regimens are one of the pillars of the DOTS strategy. Isoniazid, Rifampicin, Pyrazinamide, Ethambutol, and Streptomycin are the primary antitubercular drugs used. Most DOTS regimens have thrice-weekly schedules and typically last for six to nine months, with an initial intensive phase and a continuation phase.

Source: The Hindu

Strawberries cherry-picked from Nilgiris

Topic: Agriculture

In News: The Nilgiris, known for its teas, potatoes, carrots and a range of exotic vegetables, is witnessing farmers going in for strawberries too.

More on the topic:

  • Straw berry is a high-value, short-duration crop and the strawberries picked from the Nilgiris gardens are sold across the country.
  • Farmers and companies that are into strawberry cultivation in the Nilgiris prefer selling the fruit rather than going in for value addition.
  • Better awareness among consumers about the nutrient-rich fruit is driving demand. After June, when production declines in the other States, strawberries from the Nilgiris are sold across the country. A majority of the strawberry produce in the country comes from Mahabaleshwar.
  • The Tamil Nadu government had come out with a scheme to support strawberry farmers.

Source: The Hindu

Rushikulya waits for Olive Ridleys

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: Even after waiting for almost a month, Olive Ridley turtles have not yet arrived for mass nesting at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery and Devi river mouth. The reasons are not fully understood yet. Mass nesting has already occurred at the Gahirmatha coast of the State.

About Olive Ridley:

  • The olive ridley sea turtle , also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, are the second smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world; this species of sea turtle is found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They can also be found in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • These turtles, along with the related Kemps ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs
  • The olive ridley is classified as vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES. These listings were largely responsible for halting the large-scale commercial exploitation and trade of olive ridley skins.

Source:The Hindu

Rising sea levels to affect water table

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: According to a study by the Department of Geology, The fragile water table in the Chennai city’s coastal areas is under threat of severe seawater intrusion due to anticipated rise in sea levels in the next few decades

More on the Topic:

  • There is a rise in sea level by 2mm every year based on a report by the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • The increasing sea level would also force the water table along the coastline to move upwards. But it would slowly replace the freshwater at the bottom of the aquifer. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, has forecast the impact of sea level rise on the coastal aquifer in the coming years, till 2100.
  • The sea would also be moving closer to the land by 0.5 m every year because of the increase in sea level. We would lose 1.5 sq. km of land along the coastline by 2100.

Way Ahead:

  • Only minimal groundwater extraction through open wells must be allowed and water pumped in localities along the shoreline must be replenished through rainwater harvesting. Large residential complexes must adopt other measures like permeable pavements to reduce the consequences.

Source: The Hindu

Heat Wave

Topic: Health

In News: Between March 1 and March 24, as many as 125 persons sought medical attention due to sunburn in Kerala.

More on the Topic:

  • Heat waves are among the leading causes of deaths among natural disasters in India. The heat waves of 2015 and 2016 had killed 2,040 and 1,111 people across the country respectively, according to records from the National Disaster Management Agency.

About Heat Wave:

  • A heat wave is a period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries. While definitions vary, a heat wave is usually measured relative to the usual weather in the area and relative to normal temperatures for the season.
  • Severe heat waves have caused catastrophic crop failures, thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, and widespread power outages due to increased use of air conditioning. A heat wave is considered extreme weather, and a danger because heat and sunlight may overheat the human body. Heat waves can usually be detected using forecasting instruments so that a warning call can be issued.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has given the following criteria for Heat Waves :

  • Heat Wave need not be considered till maximum temperature of a station reaches atleast 40*C for Plains and atleast 30*C for Hilly regions
  • When normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40*C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 5*C to 6*C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 7*C or more
  • When normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40*C Heat Wave Departure from normal is 4*C to 5*C Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 6*C or more.
  • When actual maximum temperature remains 45*C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, heat waves should be declared.
  • Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change.
  • India too is feeling the impact of climate change in terms of increased instances of heat waves which are more intense in nature with each passing year, and have a devastating impact on human health thereby increasing the number of heat wave casualties.

Source: The Hindu

Plastic harms Galapagos wildlife

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: Tonnes of plastic waste wash up on the shores of the Galapagos islands where microparticles end up in the stomachs of species found only in the Pacific archipelago 1,000 km west of mainland Ecuador.

More on the Topic:

  • Those microparticles, often from waste discarded in big cities from other countries and even continents, are perhaps one of the greatest threats to the iguanas, tortoises, birds and fish of the Galapagos.
  • The tiny plastic pieces become part of the food chain and can reach our plates. Sun rays and the ocean’s saltwater break down bottles, bags, lids, containers and fishing nets.

About Galapagos Island:

  • The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. It’s considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing.
  • A province of Ecuador, it lies about 1,000km off its coast. Its isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else. Charles Darwin visited in 1835, and his observation of Galápagos’ species later inspired his theory of evolution.


Powers and duties of Lokpal

Topic: Polity and Governance

In News: On March 19, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh was appointed as India’s first Lokpal.

More on the Topic:

Who are the public servants covered by the Act?

  • The Lokpal has jurisdiction to inquire into allegations of corruption against anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D.
  • Also covered are chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre.
  • It also covers any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above ₹10 lakh.

What happens if a charge is made against the PM?

  • The Lokpal cannot inquire into any corruption charge against the Prime Minister if the allegations are related to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space, unless a full Bench of the Lokpal, consisting of its chair and all members, considers the initiation of a probe, and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.
  • Such a hearing should be held in camera, and if the complaint is dismissed, the records shall not be published or made available to anyone.

How can a complaint be made and what happens next?

  • A complaint under the Lokpal Act should be in the prescribed form and must pertain to an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act against a public servant.
  • There is no restriction on who can make such a complaint. When a complaint is received, the Lokpal may order a preliminary inquiry by its Inquiry Wing, or refer it for investigation by any agency, including the CBI, if there is a prima facie case.

Model Mains Question: What is Lokpal? Discuss its efficacy as an institutional measure to curb corruption.

Source: The Hindu

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