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Evening News Digest: 15 September 2018

International Day of Democracy: 15 September

  • The International Day of Democracy was observed across the world on September 15, 2018 with the theme “Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World”.
  • With this year’s 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Day of Democracy is also an opportunity to highlight the values of freedom and respect for human rights as essential elements of democracy.
  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development addresses democracy in Sustainable Development Goal 16 recognizing the indivisible links between peaceful societies and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.

Five Measures to Curb India's CAD, Stabilize Rupee announced

  • Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley on September 14, 2018 announced a series of measures to boost market confidence, curb the widening current account deficit (CAD) and stabilize the rupee.
  • The measures were announced following the meeting headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg and RBI Governor Urjit Patel.
  • These five measures are:
    • Mandatory hedging conditions for infrastructure loans through the external commercial borrowing (ECB) route will be reviewed
    • A 20% exposure limit on investments by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) in debt to a single corporate group will be removed.
    • Government will permit the manufacturing sector to access ECBs up to $50 million with residual maturity of one year instead of three years.
    • Masala bonds will be exempted from withholding tax in the financial year 2018-19.
    • Indian banks will be allowed to become market makers in masala bonds including by underwriting.
  • In addition, “government will take efforts to reduce non-essential imports,” Jaitley said against the backdrop of India’s rising trade deficit which stood at $17.4 billion in August 2018.
  • Impact
    • The five measures will have an impact of around $8-10 billion and help reduce CAD, which touched which touched 2.4% of GDP in the Apr-June 2018.
    • It will also help stabilize sliding rupee vis-à-vis dollar, which depreciated more than 12% in 2018-19.

National AIDS Control Organization releases HIV Estimations 2017

  • The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) released the report HIV Estimations 2017 in New Delhi on September 14, 2018.
  • The HIV Estimations 2017 is the 14th round in the series of HIV Estimations under National AIDS Control Programme (NACP).
  • The report highlights the significant achievement of National AIDS response on prevention as well as on treatment front.
  • However, it also indicated that there is no place for complacency as country move forward on ambitious goal of attaining the ‘End of AIDS’ by 2030.
  • Key Highlights
    • India had around 21.40 lakh people living with HIV (PLHIV) with adult prevalence of 0.22%.
    • Around 87.58 thousand new HIV infections and 69.11 thousand AIDS related deaths happened in 2017.
    • The rate of decline in annual new HIV infections has been relatively slower in recent years.
    • Overall, the impact of the NACP has been significant with more than 80% decline in estimated new infection from peak of epidemic in 1995. Similarly, estimated AIDS related death declined by 71% since its peak in 2005.
    • As per UNAIDS 2018 report, the global average for decline in new infections and AIDS related deaths from peak has been 47% and 51% respectively.
  • Background
    • NACO undertakes HIV estimations biennially in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - National Institute of Medical Statistics (NIMS).
    • The first round of HIV estimation in India was done in 1998, while the last round was done in 2015.

Power Ministry launches Chiller Star Labelling Program

  • The Union Ministry of Power on September 14, 2018 launched the Chiller Star Labelling Program
  • The aim is to encourage the deployment of Energy Efficient chiller systems in the country.
  • The program has been formulated by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
  • The program envisages providing star rating in terms of its energy performance.
  • Initially, the program is launched on voluntary basis and will be valid up to 31st December 2020.
  • Impact
    • More than 500 million units of electricity would be saved in 2019 along with Green House Gases (GHG) reduction of 0.5 million-ton equivalent of CO2.
    • Anticipated to save more than 4 Billion units of electricity in the year 2030 with CO2 emission reduction of 3.5 million ton.
  • What are Chillers?
    • Chillers are used extensively for space conditioning of buildings and for industrial process cooling applications.
    • Chillers, being energy intensive system, contribute more than 40 per cent of the total energy consumption in commercial buildings.

India's first tribal tourism circuit inaugurated in Chhattisgarh

  • The country's first tribal tourism circuit was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Tourism KJ Alphons in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh on September 14, 2018.
  • The tribal tourism circuit, launched under Swadesh Darshan Scheme, is the second project to be launched under the scheme in the country.
  • The project was sanctioned in 2016 February for Rs 99.21 crore and it covers thirteen sites in the state which are Jashpur, Kunkuri, Mainpat, Kamleshpur, Maheshpur, Kurdar, Sarodadadar, Gangrel, Kondagaon, Nathiya Nawagaon, Jagdalpur, Chitrakoot, Tirthgarh.
  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme
    • The Swadesh Darshan Scheme (Central Sector Scheme)– for integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country was launched in 2014-15.
    • Under this scheme, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development. They are Buddhist Circuit, North-East India Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.
    • Since its inception in 2014-15, the ministry has sanctioned Rs 5,997 crore to 31 states and union territories for 74 projects under the scheme.

SC modifies its previous order on dowry Harassment

  • A three-judge Supreme Court (SC) bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra modified SC’s July 2017 order on dowry harassment. The July 2017 order was passed by two-judge SC bench of Justice (retd) AK Goel and Justice U.U. Lalit.
  • How new order is different from July 2017 order?
    • The order did away with establishment of ‘family welfare committees’ in each district as given in July 2017 order. These committees were beyond the Code of Criminal Procedure Code.
    • It restored to the police their power to immediately register a FIR under Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and act on a dowry harassment complaint filed by a married woman. In July 2017 order police could only file FIR if clearance is given by the committee.
    • Involved parties would now have to approach the High Court concerned for quashing of the complaint filed by the married woman. In July 2017 order, district judges were empowered to close dowry harassment cases if the parties reached out-of-court settlement.
    • Accused persons should apply for exemption from personal appearance in dowry harassment hearings.
    • The Director General of Police of every State to provide designated officers rigorous training so that frivolous complaints are identified.
  • Section 498-A, which was introduced in 1983 by Parliament to protect hapless married women against dowry menace. It is cognisable and non-bailable offence. A guilty person faces up to three years in prison.

‘Shilp Guru’ & National Award to Master craft persons presented

  • The Union Minister of Textiles Smriti Zubin Irani on September 14, 2018 presented ‘Shilp Guru’ and National Award to Master craft persons at a function held at Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh.
  • Eight ‘Shilp guru’ and 25 National awards were presented for the year 2016. Shilp Guru’ is the highest award in the Handicraft sector in India.
  • The main objective of the awards is to give recognition to masters for their excellence in craftsmanship and valuable contribution to Indian Handicrafts.
  • About the Award
    • Shilp Guru Award consists of a gold coin, Rs. 2,00,000/- in cash, a Tamrapatra, an Angavastram and a certificate. 
    • National Award consists of Rs. 1,00,000/- in cash, a Tamrapatra, an Angavastram and a certificate.  
    • The Shilp Guru Awards, National Awards and National Merit Certificate are awarded to a craftsperson only once in a lifetime.

6 AAI-run airports bag international awards

  • The Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards 2017 were presented by the Airports Council International (ACI) at the Customer Excellence Global Summit at Halifax, Canada, on September 12, 2018.
  • Six aerodromes of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) have bagged seven international awards in various categories.
  • The winning airports are: Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport (Lucknow), Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport (Indore), Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (Ahmedabad), Chennai International Airport (Chennnai), Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata) and Pune International Airport (Pune).
  • Also, Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi) and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai) aerodromes shared the top slot in the best airport category in Asia-Pacific region with regard to handling of over two million passengers per year.
  • ASQ is a globally established programme that measures passengers’ satisfaction while travelling through an airport.

Indian-American Bimal Patel nominated Asst Secy of Treasury for FIs

  • Indian-American Bimal Patel has been nominated to a key administrative position in the Treasury Department by US President Donald Trump.
  • Patel, from Georgia, has been nominated to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions.
  • Currently, he serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

SC issues slew of directions to end stigma attached to leprosy patients

  • The Supreme Court (SC) on September 14, 2018 issued a slew of directions to end century old stigma attached to leprosy patients.
  • The directions were given by three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.
  • Directions Issued
    • It directed the Centre to consider framing separate rules for issuing them disability certificates so that they can avail of reservation and various other welfare benefits.
    • It directed to the Centre and the state governments for launching massive awareness programmes.
    • leprosy affected persons are issued Below Poverty Line cards so they can avail of benefits under Antyodaya Anna Yojana and other similar schemes to enable them to secure their right to food.
    • Formulate a comprehensive community-based rehabilitation scheme to cater to all basic facilities and needs of the leprosy affected persons and their families.
    • To ensure that drugs for management of leprosy and its complications including the Multi-drug therapy (MDT), consisting of Rifampicin, Clofazimine and Dapsone, drugs are available free of cost.
  • National Leprosy Eradicaition Programme
    • National Leprosy Eradication Program was launched in 1983 as a continuation of the National Leprosy Control Program of 1955 to eradicate leprosy in India.

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