Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - August 21, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

No need to audit PM CARES

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Context

  • The Supreme Court recently endorsed the PM CARES Fund as a “public charitable trust” to which donors contribute voluntarily.
  • The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) were created on 28 March 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

About the case

  • The petition had argued that the PM-CARES Fund was not subject to CAG audit.
  • It was not under “public scrutiny”. Contributions to it were “100% tax-free”.
  • It was accused that there was statutory fund already in existence under the Disaster Management Act of 2005 to receive contributions to finance the fight against a calamity.

About the fund

  • The fund will be used for combat, containment and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic like situations in the future.
  • The PM is the chairman of the trust. Members will include the defence, home and finance ministers.
  • The fund will also enable micro-donations.
  • The minimum donation accepted for the PM CARES Fund is ₹10 (14¢ US).
  • The donations will be tax-exempt and fall under corporate social responsibility.

About the ruling

  • There is “no occasion” for the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to audit a public charitable trust independent of budgetary support or government money.
  • The court said that PM-CARES is “not open” for a PIL petitioner to question the “wisdom” that created the fund in an hour of need.
  • The court dismissed the idea that the PM CARES was constituted to “circumvent” the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
  • The Bench also refused to direct the transfer of funds from the PM CARES Fund to the NDRF.
  • It said they were two separate entities.

Source: The Hindu

Govt To Lease Out 3 Airports On PPP Model

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for leasing out three airports namely Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram airports of Airports Authority of India (AAI) through Public Private Partnership (PPP).

About the arrangement
  • The Union Cabinet accorded its approval for leasing of three AAI airports namely, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram for Operation, Management and Development to M/s Adani Enterprises Ltd, who is declared as the successful bidder in a Global Competitive Bidding conducted by the Airports Authority of India, for a period of fifty years.  
  • These projects will bring efficiency in service delivery, expertise, enterprise and professionalism apart from harnessing the needed investments in the public sector.

Source: PIB.

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Government hikes cane FRP by Rs 10 per quintal

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • The government hiked the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane to Rs 285 per quintal for the sugar season 2020-21.
  • The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Background

  • The FRP for 2020-21 sugar season (October-September), which will be payable by sugar mills to sugarcane farmers, is Rs 10 higher than the current rate of Rs 275 per quintal.
  • Announcing the decision, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said, “The decision will benefit 1 crore farmers.”
  • The FRP has been fixed on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), said a statement.

Source: Indian Express

NTPC to reduce coal supply cost with new rail infrastructure

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • State-owned power giant NTPC on Wednesday said it will soon reduce the cost of coal supplies at Kudgi plant by using a newly constructed rail infrastructure.
  • NTPC Ltd would be able to reduce the transportation cost of coal to fuel to its NTPC Kudgi Super thermal power station in Karnataka, to around Rs 200-500 per metric tonnes (MT) thereby bringing down the cost of electricity generation.
  • The transit time will also be reduced by 8-15 hours.

Background

  • The newly constructed 670-meter bridge in South Western railway is beneficial to NTPC Kudgi as it will help in reducing the cost of electricity generation.
  • The new infrastructure will also support the railways in handling more material.
  • Besides, with the availability of double lines, travel time from Sholapur in Maharashtra to Gadag in Karnataka will be reduced for the passengers.

About the Highlights

  • NTPC has provided assistance in doubling of the lines on the existing tracks from Hotgi, Maharashtra to Kudgi, Karnataka (134 Kms) and provided support in the construction of two bridges on Bhima river.
  • Currently, a more than 50-years-old bridge restricts haulage of heavy loaded goods, whereby most of the traffic is being diverted through the Guntakal to Bellary-Gadag route.
  • NTPC is awaiting for the final approval from the South Western Railway and will start the operations as soon as it gets clearance, it added.

Source: PIB.

PM Modi greets people on Prakash Purab Utsav of ‘Guru Granth Sahib’

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Context

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on the Prakash Purab Utsav of the holy book Guru Granth Sahib.

Background

  • In a tweet Mr Modi said, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji illuminates the entire world with its pure teachings.
  • He said, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji teaches people service, compassion and furthers harmony.
  • It lays out the path towards a just and equal society.

About the Highlights

  • It also teaches us never to bow to injustice. Mr Modi said, inspired by it, Sikhs globally have done pioneering service in several spheres and their courage and kindness are remarkable.
  • The Prime Minister hoped that the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji will keep guiding humanity forever.
  • The first Prakash Purab Utsav marked the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden temple, in 1604.

Source: AIR News.

Om Birla attends inaugural ceremony of fifth world conference of speakers of parliament

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

  • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla attended the inaugural ceremony of the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament (5WCSP).
  • The two day Conference is being organized jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Geneva and the Parliament of Austria with the support of the United Nations (UN).

About the Highlights

  • This is the first time that an international Parliamentary Conference of such a magnitude is being organised in Virtual mode.
  • Members of Parliament Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Meenakashi Lekhi, both will also be attending the Conference.
  • The theme of the Conference is Parliamentary leadership for more effective multilateralism that delivers peace and sustainable development for the people and planet.
  • The Conference is being held in the backdrop of the current crisis of COVID-19 pandemic is expected to strengthen multilateralism and international cooperation in order to rebuild a better world.

Source: AIR News.

MoU to provide certified good quality seeds to jute farmers in the year 2021-22 signed between Jute Corporation of India and National Seeds Corporation

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.


Context

  • In an effort to improve production and productivity of raw Jute in the country, the Ministry of Textiles will make available certified jute seeds to the farmers through the Jute Corporation of India (JCI).
  • National Seeds Corporation (NSC), a CPSE under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare would be ensuring delivery of these quality certified seeds to the JCI.An MoU in this regard was signed between the JCI and National Seeds Corporation (NSC).

Background

  • Union Minister of Textiles SmtSmriti Zubin Irani and Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomarwitnessed the MoU signing ceremony through virtual mode, in which the CMDs of the two organizations were also present.
  • The MoU will ensure distribution of certified jute seeds through JCI in the year 2021-2022.

About the Highlights

  • There is immense potential for increasing the use of jute in lining of water bodies, road building and construction of structures to contain landslides in hilly areas.
  • The Union Minister of Textiles said that in addition to becoming self-reliant in requirement of jute for the domestic market, the next target is to strengthen the export potential of the country in jute and its products.
  • Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomarexpressed happiness at the signing of the MoU between the National Seeds Corporation and Jute Corporation of India.
  • He appreciated the commendable work of the National Seeds Corporation in providing good quality seeds at low cost for jute farmers.
  • Shri Tomar stressed on the importance of improving the production and quality of raw jute in the country, and said that along with this, providing value addition to the produce will contribute in achieving the Prime Minister’s target of an AatmaNirbhar Bharat.
  • He also stressed on preparing a road map for building jute export potential within a fixed time frame.

Source: NDTV.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements:
  1. National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), is India's first largest aerospace firm.
  2. It was established by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at Delhi in 1959.
  3. National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) was established in 1953 by the Government of India to promote the technologies from various national R&D institutions and is presently working under the administrative control of the Home Ministry.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

      A. 1 and 2 only
      B. 2 and 3 only
      C. 1 and 3 only
      D. AOTA

Solution: A

2. Consider the following:

  • National Research Development Corporation (NRDC)was established in 1953 by the Government of India to promote the technologies from various national R&D institutions and is presently working under the administrative control of the Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science & Technology.

  1. Which of the Article guarantees equal treatment under law in matters of public employment, prohibits the state from discriminating on grounds of place of birth or residence?

          A. Article 16
          B. Article 17
          C. Article 18
          D. Article 19

Solution: A

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