National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 11th December 2018

National Pension Scheme

1

Topic: Government Policies

IN NEWS: The government  announced a slew of changes to the National Pension Scheme (NPS), including increasing the government’s contribution, exempting withdrawals from tax, and also exempting up to ₹1.5 lakh of contributions to the scheme from tax.

More on the Topic:

  • The NPS was introduced for central government employees who joined service on or after January 1, 2004.
  • Prior to the change, NPS subscribers could withdraw 60% of the corpus, with 40% of mandatory being deposited in annuity schemes. Of the 60%, one-third was taxable and two-third was tax exempt.
  • Following the changes, the entire 60% would be tax free. Taken in combination with the fact that the 40% to be deposited in annuities was already tax exempt, the change means that the entire withdrawal from NPS will now be tax free.
  • The government also increased its share of contribution to the NPS. So far, subscribers and the government each contributed 10%.
  • Following the change, the government contribution will go up to 14%. The government said that the changes would benefit about 18 lakh central government employees, and would cost an additional ₹2,840 crore in financial year 2019-20.

About National Pension Scheme:

  • The Government of India started the National Pension System under the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) to take the citizens under the affordable social security scheme. NPS is a low cost, tax efficient, flexible and portable Scheme. Employees and employers both contribute to the scheme.
  • Any citizen of India, resident or non-resident is allowed to join the scheme. Individuals aged between 18-60 years are allowed to participate in the scheme. Citizens can join the scheme as individuals and employer-employee groups after the KYC procedure. A Non-resident Indian can open an NPS account.
  • The contributions made by NRI are subject to regularised by RBI and FEMA. Also, one can invest in NPS despite their contribution to the provident fund.
  • NPS is distributed through the authorized entities called Point of Presence(POP’s). Almost all banks and select financial institutions act as the point of presence to enter into the NPS architecture. These POP assists the subscriber open an account and fill up the necessary forms.

Source: The Hindu

Kaiga power station

2

Topic: Energy sector 

IN NEWS: Karnataka’s Kaiga has once again made the country proud by creating a world record for the longest uninterrupted operation for 941 days, thereby breaking the earlier record of 940 days by the United Kingdom.

More on the Topic:

  • Heysham-2 Unit-8 of the U.K. had held the earlier record of the longest uninterrupted operation.
  • Kaiga Generating Station (KGS-1) equalled the world record. While KGS-1 is a Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR), Heysham-2 Unit-8 is an Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (AGR).
  • Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), has said that the achievement demonstrates that the nation’s capability in nuclear power generation technology of PHWR had fully matured and proved the excellence in design, construction, safety, quality and operation and maintenance practices of NPCIL.
  • KGS-1 at Kaiga, located 56 km from Karwar has been generating electricity continuously since May 13, 2016. It isan indigenously-built PHWR run by domestic fuel (uranium).

Source:The Hindu

Nuclear-capable Agni-V

3

Topic: Science and Technology

In news: India successfully test-fired nuclear-capable long-range ballistic missile Agni-V.

More on the Topic:

  • The missile was launched from a canister on a road mobile-launcher from Dr. Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha.
  • This is the third successful launch of Agni-V this year and the fifth launch of the missile in a canisterised form.

About Agni V

  • Agni-V is an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a strike range of over 5,000 km and can reach most parts of China. The mission critical avionics were indigenously designed and developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad.
  • Agni series of missiles constitute the backbone of India’s nuclear weapons delivery which also includes the Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft.
  • The submarine-based nuclear arsenal which assures second strike capability in the face of the proclaimed No-First-Use policy is taking shape with INS Arihant completing its first deterrence patrol recently.

Source: The Hindu

GoM to form sub-panel on harassment

Topic: Government Policies

In news: The Group of Ministers (GoM) formed in the wake of the #MeToo campaign on social media decided to constitute a sub-committee that will suggest changes to the law on prevention of sexual harassment at workplace as well as ways to strengthen the National Commission for Women.

More on the Topic:

  • The sub-committee will comprise officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Law and Justice. It will be given 10 days to submit its report.
  • While the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (or POSH Act 2013) provides for the setting up of ICs, it doesn’t mention who will penalise employers if they fail to comply. It lays down a fine of ₹50,000, but there is no clarity on which authority can impose that. This concerns will be addressed by the sub-committee.

Source: The Hindu

Global coalition For Vaccine Technology for Epidemics

5

Topic: Science and Technology

In news: A global coalition set up to fight disease epidemics is investing up to $8.4-million to develop a synthetic vaccine system that could be tailor-made to fight multiple pathogens such as flu, Ebola, Marburg and Rabies.

More on the Topic:

  • The deal, between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and a team of scientists at Britain’s Imperial College London is aimed at progressing a “vaccine platform” which uses synthetic self-amplifying RNA (saRNA).
  • A vaccine platform is a system that uses the same basic components as a backbone or framework, and can be adapted to immunize against different diseases by inserting new genetic sequences from, for example, the flu or Marburg or rabies virus.

Significance of saRNA approach:

  • The thinking behind the saRNA approach is to harness the body’s own cell machinery to make an antigen – in other words a foreign substance that induces an immune response – rather than injecting the antigen itself directly into the body.
  • The other advantage is that it’s very rapid to manufacture because it’s a synthetic process.

CEPI

  • CEPI, which was set up at the start of 2017, aims to dramatically speed up the development of vaccines against new and unknown diseases – collectively known as Disease X.

Source:The Hindu                                     

Konark Sun Temple

6

Topic: Art and Culture

In news: Refusing to accept an affidavit filed by the regional head of the Archaeological Survey of India, the Orissa High Court on Monday directed the ASI Director General to file a comprehensive report stating in detail the present condition of the Sun Temple at Konark.

More on the Topic:

  • Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE sun temple at Konark on the coastline of Odisha, India.
  • The temple is attributed to king Narasingha deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE.
  • Dedicated to the Hindu ‘god Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone. Once over 200 feet (61 m) high.
  • Also called the Surya Devalaya, it is a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
  • This temple was called the “Black Pagoda” in European sailor accounts as early as 1676 because its great tower appeared black. Similarly, the Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the “White Pagoda”. Both temples served as important landmarks for sailors in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984,it remains a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Mela around the month of February.

Source: The Hindu

Khelo India Youth Games

7

Topic: Government Initiatives

IN NEWS: BAfter the first edition of the Khelo India School Games 2017, the second edition, the games has become an initiative of the Central Government, has expanded in its scope, and will allow participants to compete in two categories (under 17 and under 21).

More on the Topic:

  • The Khelo India programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports in India and establish India as a great sporting nation.
  • Talented players identified in priority sports disciplines at various levels by the High-Powered Committee will be provided annual financial assistance of INR 5 lakh per annum for 8 years.
  • Khelo India School Games are a part of the Khelo India programme.
  • There are 16 disciplines including Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.

Source: The Hindu

 

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