National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 22nd September 2018

Drinking water programme not effective in Odisha, observes CAG

Why in news?

The implementation of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) has not been effective in Odisha as it has reached only 3.70% households against its target of covering 35% households by March 2017, a Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report stated.

About report

  • Digging of tube wells without conducting scientific survey had led to dry wells which deprived the habitations of drinking water and expenditure incurred on them became wasteful.
  • Therefore, the vision of providing safe drinking water to the people living in rural areas at all times could not be achieved in the State, it further read.
  • Inefficient fund management, instances of delay in the release of funds by the State government and low utilisation due to the slow pace of execution of works were also noticed.
  • The target fixed under strategic plan was largely not achieved and water quality monitoring and surveillance was inadequate, the report added.

About National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)

  • The Centre had launched the NRDWP on April 1, 2009, and the Odisha State Water and Sanitation Mission, under the Rural Development Department, implement the programme in the State.
  • The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme aimed at providing every person in rural India with adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic basic needs on a sustainable basis.
  • Safe water is to be readily and conveniently accessible at all times and in all situations and therefore, the scheme focuses on the creation of the infrastructure.

Gaganyaan mission

Why in news?

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is setting up a third launch pad at Sriharikota to undertake the Gaganyaan manned space flight programme. India had two launch pads currently, which are already full. A third launch pad is being set up for the human space flight.

About Gaganyaan

  • ISRO had begun work on the manned mission in 2004 and many of the critical technologies required for human spaceflight have already been validated through various tests — Space Capsule Recovery Experiment, Crew Module Atmospheric Re-Entry Experiment and Pad Abort Test.
  • The ‘pad abort’ test or Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure that helps pull the crew away from the launch vehicle when a mission has to be aborted.
  • Space Capsule Recovery Experiment is intended to demonstrate the technology of an orbiting platform for performing experiments in micro gravity conditions.
  • Crew module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment would be used as a platform for testing the re-entry technologies envisaged for Crew Module (payload) including validating the performance of parachute-based deceleration system.
  • If India does launch the Gaganyaan mission, it will be the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China.

Agencies to do eco-impact checks

Why in news?

The Union Environment Ministry proposes to allow research organisations and accredited agencies to monitor if companies are complying with environmental conditions.

About Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • India’s environmental laws require project developers to submit themselves to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), under which an independent agency, commissioned by the project developer, ascertains the likely environmental impact of a proposed project.
  • The preparation of an environment impact assessment report and an environment management plan ensures that the adverse environmental impact of projects and activities are assessed and studied and mitigation measures are taken in the implementation of the project to avoid or minimise the adverse environmental impact.

Why this move now?

  • The process obligates the project proponent to file a six-monthly compliance report, and regional offices of the Ministry are supposed to check whether industries are complying with these norms.
  • However, these offices are frequently understaffed; therefore, to ensure that the rules are complied with, the government has proposed to have institutions like the IITs and accredited expert organisations conduct the compliance monitoring.

SEBI revises KYC norms for foreign portfolio investors

Why in news?

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has announced the revised guidelines for know your client (KYC) requirement for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) allowing non-resident Indians (NRIs), resident Indians (RIs) and overseas citizens of India (OCIs) to be part of such FPIs investing in India.

What are new Guidelines?

  • NRIs, OCIs and RIs can be part of an FPI if their aggregate holding in such an overseas fund is less than 50% of the corpus of the fund.
  • Further, the individual share of such entities cannot exceed 25% in an FPI.
  • More importantly, the regulator has also laid down that FPIs can be controlled by investment managers that are owned or controlled by NRIs, OCIs or RIs.
  • Such, investment managers, however, need to be properly regulated in their home jurisdiction and also registered with the SEBI.
  • For category II and III FPIs from high risk jurisdictions, KYC review would be done annually.

About  Foreign portfolio investment

  • Foreign portfolio investment (FPI) consists of securities and other financial assets passively held by foreign investors.
  • It does not provide the investor with direct ownership of financial assets and is relatively liquid depending on the volatility of the market.
  • Foreign portfolio investment is part of a country’s capital account and shown on its balance of payments (BOP).

Differences Between FPI and FDI

  • FPI lets an investor purchase stocks, bonds or other financial assets in a foreign country. Because the investor does not actively manage the investments or the companies that issue the investments, he does not have control over the securities or the business. However, since the investor’s goal is to create a quick return on his money, FPI is more liquid and less risky than FDI.
  • In contrast, FDI lets an investor purchase a direct business interest in a foreign country. For example, an investor living in New York purchases a warehouse in Berlin so a German company can expand its operations. The investor’s goal is to create a long-term income stream while helping the company increase its profits.
  • The investor controls his monetary investments and actively manages the company into which he puts money. He helps build the business and waits to see his return on investment (ROI). However, because the investor’s money is tied up in a company, he faces less liquidity and more risk when trying to sell his interest.
  • The investor also faces currency exchange risk, which may decrease the value of his investment when converted from the country’s currency to U.S. dollars, and political risk, which may make the foreign economy and his investment amount volatile.

Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna

Why in news?

The Employee’s State Insurance (ESI) has approved a scheme named ‘Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna’ for Insured Persons (IP) covered under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.

About Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna

  • It aims to financially support those who lost their jobs or rendered jobless for whatsoever reasons due to changing employment pattern.
  • Its beneficiaries will be insured persons covered under Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 for period of two years continuously.
  • Under the scheme, relief will be payable in cash directly to bank account of insured persons in case of unemployment.
  • This financial assistance will be given to insured persons even while they search for new engagement.
  • Beneficiary insured workers will be paid money, from their own contribution towards ESI scheme, in cash through bank account transfer.
  • workers will be able to draw 47% of their total contributions towards ESIC after remaining unemployed for at least three months from date of leaving their previous jobs.
  • They can choose to receive the cash at one go or in instalments. It will be applicable to all factories and establishments employing at least 10 workers.

About ESI

  • ESI is self-financing social security and health insurance scheme for Indian workers.
  • It is autonomous corporation by statutory creation under Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.
  • It is managed by Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) according to rules and regulations stipulated there in the ESI Act 1948.

Sputum sample transportation Project

Why in news?

A pilot project for utilising services of Department of Post for transport of sputum specimen for TB Diagnosis was launched by the Health Ministry.

About TB Sputum Test

  • The sputum test is often the first TB test to be used in countries with a high rate of TB infection.
  • Sputum microscopy is inexpensive and simple, and people can be trained to do it relatively quickly and easily.

Why we Need postal transportation of Sputum?

  • Most of the patients are not diagnosed because the specimen does not reach the laboratory due to non-availability of specimen transport mechanisms.
  • Transport of collected specimen also spares the patient’s from travelling to the reference laboratory.
  • Prompt transport of specimen followed by efficacious testing will enable appropriate management of the TB patients and reduced disease transmission.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Why in news?

Pakistan has invited Saudi Arabia to join the CPEC as the third “strategic partner”. Saudi participation in this mega project will ensure huge investment in Pakistan through this platform.

About CPEC

  • The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
  • The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consisting of highways, railways, and pipelines is the latest irritant in the India–China relationship.
  • CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.

IAEA safeguards

Why in news?

India has decided to place four more reactors under the IAEA safeguards. Accordingly, two Russian-designed Pressurised Light Water Reactors and two Pressurised Heavy Reactors being built with Indian technology will be covered.With this, a total of 26 Indian nuclear facilities will be under the international nuclear energy watchdog.

About IAEA safeguards

  • Safeguards are a set of technical measures applied by the IAEA on nuclear material and activities, through which the Agency seeks to independently verify that nuclear facilities are not misused and nuclear material not diverted from peaceful uses. States accept these measures through the conclusion of safeguards agreements.
  • The objective of IAEA Safeguards is to deter the spread of nuclear weapons by the early detection of the misuse of nuclear material or technology.
  • IAEA safeguards are an essential component of the international security system. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the centrepiece of global efforts to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. Under the Treaty’s Article 3, each Non-Nuclear Weapon State is required to conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

About IAEA

  • The IAEA is the world’s centre for cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family.
  • The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
  • It seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

Missile Prahar

Why in news?

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight tested the indigenously developed surface-to-surface tactical missile ‘Prahar’, from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Balasore.

About Prahar

  • Prahar developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is capable of filling the gap between the multi-barrel rocket system ‘Pinaka’ and medium-range ballistic missile ‘Prithvi’. It can also engage multiple targets in different directions.
  • It has length of 7.3 meter, diameter of 420 mm and weighs 1,280 kg. It has operational range of 150 km and flight altitude of 35 km.
  • It is a solid-fuelled short-range missile fitted with inertial navigation system.
  • The missile is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation, guidance and electromechanical actuation systems with advanced on board computer.
  • It is a quick-reaction, all-weather, all-terrain, highly accurate battlefield support tactical weapon system.

National Sports Awards

Why in news?

National Sports Awards 2018 have been announced.


  • National Sports Awards are given every year to recognize and reward excellence in sports.
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is given for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four year.
  • Arjuna Award is given for consistency outstanding performance for four years.
  • Dronacharya Award for coaches for producing medal winners at prestigious International sports events.
  • Dhyan Chand Award for life time contribution to sports development.
  • Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar is given to the corporate entities (both in private and public sector) and individuals who have played a visible role in the area of sports promotion and development.
  • Overall top performing university in inter-university tournaments is given Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy.
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