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Evening News Digest: 09 Aug 2018

Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve included in World Network of Biosphere Reserves

  • The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve has become the 11th Biosphere Reserve from India that has been included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
  • The decision to include Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in WNBR was taken at the 30th Session of International Coordinating Council (ICC) of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO held at Indonesia's Palembang from July 23 to July 27. 
  • It includes a range of ecolines, varying from sub-tropic to Arctic, as well as natural forests in different biomes that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats. 
  • India has 18 Biosphere Reserves and with the inclusion of Khangchendzonga, the number of internationally designated WNBR has become 11.
  • 7 Biosphere Reserves is domestic Biosphere Reserves.
  • Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Sikkim is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level.

Commerce Ministry launches Mobile App Niryat Mitra

  • Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Aviation Suresh Prabhu launched Niryat Mitra – mobile App in New Delhi.
  • The app developed by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is available both on Android and on IOS platforms.
  • It provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from the policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures.

Rajya Sabha to elect Deputy Chairman

  • The National Democratic Alliance’s candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh of the Janata Dal(United) was on Thursday elected as the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha as he defeated opposition’s BK Hariprasad by 20 votes.
  • The Deputy Chairman is a constitutional position created under Article 89 of the Constitution, which specifies that Rajya Sabha shall choose one of its MPs to be the Deputy Chairman as often as the position becomes vacant. 
  • The office becomes vacant either by resignation or removal from office or when the Rajya Sabha member’s term gets over.
  • The last Deputy Chair of Rajya Sabha was Prof P J Kurien, whose tenure in Rajya Sabha ended on July 1.

Centre asks citizens not to use national flags made up of plastic.

  • Ahead of Independence Day, the Centre on Wednesday urged all citizens not to use national flag made up of plastic and asked States and Union Territories to ensure strict compliance of the flag code.         
  • The Ministry said it has been brought to its notice that during important events, the national flag made of plastic is used in place of paper flags.
  • Since plastic flags are not biodegradable like paper flags, these do not get decomposed for a long time and ensuring appropriate disposal of national flag made of plastic commensurate is a practical problem.
  • Flag Code of India, 2002 says paper flags are not to be discarded or thrown on the ground after the event.

SC to constitute panel to look into issues in jails across country

  • The Supreme Court on August 8 said it would constitute a committee under the chairmanship of its retired judge to look into problems in jails, including overcrowding, and suggest measures to deal with it.
  • The court is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.

PM Modi to launch 650 branches of India Post Payments Bank (IPPB)

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) on August 21.
  • It will tie up with other banks and financial companies to offer loans, mutual funds and insurance policies.
  • The Department of Posts was one of the 11 entities to get the in-principle nod from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2015 for setting up a payments bank. 
  • Many private firms such as Airtel, Fino, Paytm, etc, have launched these services. But IPPB missed the September 2017 deadline to open 650 branches because it failed to get a system integrator (SI) on board.
  • IPPB would become one of the largest banking networks in India.
  • India Post has 154,000 post offices, of which 139,000 are in rural areas.
  • The government is planning to utilise 650 branches to serve as controlling offices for servicing and monitoring post offices.
  • An account holder can deposit up to Rs 100,000, withdraw cash, and make payments just like a savings bank account in any other commercial bank.

Ivan Duque sworn in as Colombia's next president

  • Colombia's President-elect Ivan Duque has been sworn in as the country's 60th president.
  • Duque, a 42-year-old former senator, defeated left-leaning candidate, Gustavo Petro, in a presidential runoff in June with 54 percent of the vote.
  • Former president Santos had a peace deal with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Santos received Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 2016.
  • However, Duque has always criticized the peace deal and there is a concern that he might undermine the peace process and prompt many former rebel members to join other armed groups.

Delhi High Court decriminalised begging in national capital

  • The Delhi High Court struck down a legal provision that criminalises begging in the national capital.
  • Currently, there is no central law on begging and destitution and most states have adopted the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalises beggary or have modelled their laws on it.
  • The law prescribes a penalty of three years of detention in beggar homes in case of first conviction for begging and the person can be ordered to be detained for 10 years in subsequent conviction.
  • The two petitions have challenged the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act.

Indian-American Aditya Bamzai  nominated member of Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

  • US President Donald Trump has nominated a prominent Indian-American law professor and legal expert to an agency on privacy and civil liberties.
  • Aditya Bamzai, a professor at University of Virginia's School of Law, has been nominated by Donald Trump to be a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board for the remainder of a six-year term expiring January, 29, 2020.
  • The agency works to ensure that efforts by the executive branch of the government to protect the nation from terrorism are balanced with the need to protect privacy and civil liberties.
  • Before entering the academy, Mr Bamzai served as an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel of the US Department of Justice and as an appellate attorney in both private practice and for the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.

S Gurumurthy And Satish Marathe Appointed To RBI Board

  • The government has appointed Swaminathan Gurumurthy and Satish Kashinath Marathe as as part-time non-official directors on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) board.
  • The Cabinet's Appointments Committee approved their appointment following a proposal from the Department of Financial Services.
  • Gurumurthy, an economist and chartered accountant by profession, is also the co-convenor of RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch.
  • He is also the editor of Tamil political weekly Thuglak.
  • Marathe, on the other hand, began his banking career with Bank of India, he then went on to become chairman of The United Western Bank Ltd.
  • He is also the founder of Sahakar Bharati, an NGO that supports co-operatives in India.
  • With these two appointments, RBI's board now has 10 government-appointed members. 



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