Daily Current Affairs - 14-04-2021

The National Housing Bank recently launched the “Special Refinance Facility”, 2021. Rs 10,00 crores has been allocated to this facility.

Special Refinance Facility, 2021

Background

The National Housing Bank has launched the initiative with the support from Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The RBI had recently announced under its Monetary Policy Review that Special Liquidity Facility-2 of Rs 10,000 crores will be allocated to National Housing Board for one year. This was done to support the housing sector. The NHB has now launched the refinancing facility based on this allocation made by the Reserve Bank.

Refinance Support in recent times

Legality of Special Refinance Facility

The Special Refinance Facility is provided by the Reserve Bank of India under Section 17 (3) of Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. Basically, the Section 17 defines how the apex bank shall conduct its business.

Section 17 of RBI Act, 1934

The Section allows the RBI to perform the following functions:

The Government of India recently announced that it is fully prepared to implement mandatory hallmarking of gold artefacts and jewellery from June 1, 2021. Currently, Gold Hallmarking is voluntary in the country.

What is Gold Hallmarking?

Importance of Gold Hallmarking

Legality of Gold Hallmarking

The International Monetary Fund recently released its World Economic Outlook report. Under its report, IMF has downgraded the forecasts for the South East Asian economies. On the other hand, it has been more optimistic about Asia-Pacific and Global economies.

Key Findings of IMF

Predictions for China

According to IMF, China is to grow by 8.4% in 2021. Earlier, IMF had predicted that China will grow by 8.1%.

Predictions for India

According to IMF, India is to grow by 12.5% in 2021. Earlier, the international organisation had predicted that India will grow by 11.5%. However, the current COVID-19 wave in India might hinder its growth. This double mutant variety is bringing back lock down in several states of the country. India is now the second largest COVID-19 affected country in the world.

World Economic Outlook

The IMF has projected that the global economy is to grow by 5.5% in 2021 and 4.2% in 2022. The oil prices have increased by 20% in 2021 as compared to 2020 globally. Also, non-oil commodity prices are expected to increase, especially, in metals.

Apart from World Economic outlook, the IMF also generates Global Financial Stability Report.

The Government of India recently announced that it is speeding up the Emergency Usage Approvals of foreign made COVID-19 vaccines. This includes COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) in other countries.

Role of NEGVAC in the approval

The foreign vaccines for EUA were recommended by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

Why is India fast tracking EUA of foreign COVID-19 vaccines?

India is fast tracking the EUA of foreign COVID-19 vaccines to expand the basket of vaccines for domestic use. This will speed up the pace and coverage of vaccination in the country. It selected those vaccines that received EUA from USFDA, PMDA of Japan, MHRA of UK and also those listed in World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing.

What is the plan?

The first hundred beneficiaries of the foreign vaccines are to be assessed for seven days for safety outcomes.

Current Scenario

India is the second most COVID-19 affected country in the world. India overtook Brazil to reach the second position. US is still the most COVID-19 affected country in the world.

Currently India has provided Emergency Use authorisation for three vaccines namely COVAXIN, SPUTNIK V and COVISHIELD. The COVAXIN is produced by Bharat Biotech of Hyderabad along with the Indian Council of Medical Research. The COVISHIELD is produced by the Serum Institute of India. The SPUTNIK V is a Russian vaccine.

Recently, the SPUTNIK V received EUA. The Dr Reddy’s Laboratories will import the vaccine from Russia to be used in India.

The Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers recently approved sixteen applicants under Production Linked Incentive scheme. The approvals will promote domestic manufacturing of drug intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in the country.

What is the plan?

The approved applicants will set up pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in the country. They will invest around Rs 348 crores in establishing these units. These plants are expected to create employment for more than 3,042 people. The operation of these plants is expected to commence from April 2023.

Significance

The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world. The markets for Indian pharmaceuticals are good in advanced economies such as European Union and the United States. Also, the Indian Pharmaceutical industry is well known for producing affordable medicines.

The only issue is that the Indian pharmaceutical industry is heavily dependent on foreign countries, especially China, for its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients. The launch of these sixteen plants will reduce dependence of India over foreign countries.

Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients

The Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients are the same as that of the bulk drugs. India was actually self- reliant in API in 1990s. However, with cheaper products China captured the Indian pharmaceutical markets in foreign countries. China created an unbeatable low-cost API manufacturing industry. This was mainly through tax incentives and aggressive government funding. The cost of operation of Chinese Pharmaceutical companies is one-fourth the Indian cost!

Thus, it is important for India to push in more funds in the pharmaceutical industry and recapture the lost markets.

COVID-19 lessons

In 2018-19, GoI imported 2.4 billion USD worth API from China. However, due to COVID-19, India was force to stop these imports. This affected the Indian Pharmaceutical companies very badly. Therefore, Government of India is now implementing alternative route of domestic production of APIs.

The National Institute of Urban Affairs recently launched the Infant Toddler and Caregiver friendly Neighbourhoods Training and Capacity Building Programme. The Institute is partnered by Bernard van Leer Foundation in implementing the programme.

About the Programme

National Institute of Urban Affairs

The National Institute of Urban Affairs was established in 1976. The institute was established for capacity building for the urban sector in India.

National Urban Learning Platform

The main aim of the platform is to empower the functionaries, elected representatives, administrators, industry actors, civil society and other ecosystem players to build smart, resilient, sustainable cities. Making cities resilient has been included in United Nations sustainable Development Goal (SDG) as well.

SDG

United Nations SDG 11 says “Make cities inclusive, resilient, safe and sustainable”.

Significance

As more people move towards cities from their home town, the joint family culture is getting dissolved. Thus, the need for day care is increasing in India.

NITI Aayog recently launched Poshan Gyan along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Centre for Social and Behaviour Change, Ashoka University. Poshan Gyan is a National Digital Repository on health and nutrition.

Poshan Gyan

Health and Nutrition in India

In Global Hunger Index, 2020, India ranked 94th out of 107 countries. This says that India is suffering from serious hunger problems. Also, in India, only a tenth of children between 6 and 23 months are fed with minimum acceptable diet.

National Nutrition Mission

On April 14, 2021, the Bohag Bihu Bird count began in Assam. The Bohag Bihu Bird count was launched by Bird Count of India (BCI). The BCI is a Non-Governmental Organisation. This is the first time BCI is launching Bohag Bihu bird count.

Bohag Bihu

Bohag Bihu is also called Xaat Bihu. It is the traditional ethnic festival celebrated in Assam. It marks the beginning of Assamese new year. Bohag is first month of Assamese calendar. The onset of Bohag marks the starting of Rongali Bihu. Rongali Bihu is one of the three most important festivals of Assam. The other two festivals are Kati Bihu and Kongali Bihu.

Rongali Bihu

During Rongali Bihu, many migratory species of birds that visited Assam and its surrounding regions during winter start flying back to their homes.

Significance

It is highly important to organise such bird counts as the birds in India are facing growing threats due to habitat losses. According to State of India’s Birds, 2020, the loss of habitat is mainly due to human activities, toxins, hunting and trapping for pet trade.

State of Birds 2020

The following are the key findings of State of Birds report, 2020:

Month: Current Affairs - April, 2021

Category: Environment Current Affairs • Important Days & Events Current Affairs

Topics: Assam • Bird Count of India • Bohag Bihu • Festival • North East • State of Birds report

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Comments

  • Apurba
    Reply

    “Bohag is Assamese calendar” wrong statement. It will be “Bohag is the first month of Assamese Calendar”. Thank you

    Currency Chests are places where RBI (Reserve Bank of India) stocks money meant for banks and ATMs. The Currency Chests are located in different banks and are administered by the Reserve Bank of India.

    Why is Current Chest in news recently?

    A private security guard has looted Rs 4.04 crores from the currency chest of Axis Bank in Chandigarh. This has brought currency chests in spotlight.

    What is Currency Chest?

    The Currency chests are places where RBI stores money meant for ATMs and banks. The representatives from RBI inspect these currency chests from time to time. These currency chests are placed in banks spread all over the country. The money in the currency chest belongs to RBI and the money placed outside currency chest in the strong room belongs to the bank.

    Whenever RBI prints new currency notes, it first delivers them to these currency chests. The banks holding the currency chests will then deliver them to the other banks.

    Who will fulfil the losses?

    Now, RBI is prone to losses due to the theft. The entire money in the chest belongs to RBI. Now the question arises who will bear the losses? The bank that holds the currency chest should bear the losses. The bank should also submit a Fraud Monitoring Report to RBI.

    Security of the Currency Chest

    The RBI reimburses the security expenses to the bank. The reimbursement includes transportation of money from one bank to another as well. It is the sole responsibility of the banks to safeguard the cash.

    How is currency distributed in India?

    • RBI has thirty-one offices in India. When new currencies are printed, RBI sends them to these offices. These offices then send the notes to the currency chests and small coin depots.
    • There are 4,075 currency chests in the country.
    • Around 3,746 banks act as small coin depots.

    The Raisina Dialogue was recently organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation. The dialogue was held under the theme:

    Raisina Dialogue

    • It is an annual Geo-political event. It is named after Raisina Hill where the seat of Government of India is located. It is a conference on geoeconomics and Geopolitics.
    • It was structured on the lines of Shangri-La-Dialogue.
    • It was held for the first time in 2016.

    Objectives of Raisina Dialogue

    • To explore future opportunities for Asian integration.
    • To explore advancement in integration of Asia with the world
    • It also asserts the crucial role played by India in the Indian Ocean Region.
    • It also focuses on how India can build a stable, regional and world order.
    • It addresses the most challenging issued faced by the global community.

    Raisina Hills

    Raisina Hill is an area in New Delhi that houses the most important buildings of India namely Rashtrapati Bhavan and the secretariat building that houses Prime Minister Office and several other ministers. The Raisina Hill is surrounded by other important buildings including Rajpath, Parliament of India and India Gate.

    Earlier, the Viceroy’s House was constructed acquiring land from three hundred families in the local villages. This was done under the 1894 Land Acquisition Act. After independence, it was turned into the permanent residence of President of India.

    Shangri-La Dialogue

    It is an inter-government security forum held annually. It is attended by defence ministers, military chiefs of twenty-eight states including India.

    Every year India celebrates Ambedkar Jayanti or Bhim Jayanti on April 14. The day is also called Ambedkar Remembrance Day. Since 2015, April 14 is observed as an official public holiday in India.

    About Ambedkar

    • Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891.
    • He struggled for equality throughout his life. Thus, his birthday is also celebrated as “Equality Day”. India has placed a demand to celebrate his birthday as International Equality Day to the United Nations.
    • He was also known as Babasaheb Ambedkar.
    • In 1956, he converted to Buddhism.
    • In 1932, he signed Poona Pact with Madan Mohan Malaviya. Malaviya signed it on behalf of Gandhi. According to the agreement, reserved seats were provided for depressed classes. Because of the pact, the depressed classes received one hundred and forty-eight seats instead of seventy one seats.
    • In 1936, Ambedkar founded Independent Labour Party.
    • After Lahore resolution, in 1940, he wrote a book called “Thoughts on Pakistan”. The book analysed the concept of Pakistan.
    • In his other book called “Who were the Shudras?”, Ambedkar wrote about the untouchables.
    • Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Constituent Assembly.

    Tributes

    • In 1990, Ambedkar was bestowed with Bharat Ratna.
    • His portrait was unveiled in the Central Hall of Parliament in 1990.
    • The period between April 14, 1990 and April 14, 1991 was observed as “Year of Social Justice”.
    • In 2015, the Government of India issued ten rupees and 125 rupees coins to mark his 125th birth anniversary.
    • The United Nations celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti for three consecutive years, in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
    • In 2020, Canada decided to celebrate Ambedkar birthday as Dr B R Ambedkar Day of Equality.
    • In 2021, the Government of British Columbia decided to celebrate his birthday as Dr B R Ambedkar Equality Day.

    Month: Current Affairs - April, 2021

    Category: Important Days & Events Current Affairs • Persons in News

    Topics: Ambedkar • Ambedkar Jayanti • Bharat Ratna • Persons in News • Poona Pact • United Nations • untouchablity

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    Comments

    • Kartik
      Reply

      Pune pact was signed between
      Gandhiji ane Babasaheb.

      The Union Minister Shri Piyush Goyal recently launched a platform called “eSanta” for marine products. The main aim of the platform is to empower aqua farmers.

      About eSanta

      • The farmers can sell their produce in eSanta portal.
      • It is a bridge between the buyers and the farmers.
      • The eSanta portal eliminates the necessity of middlemen completely.
      • The portal is available in languages such as English, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Odiya and Bengali.
      • The initiative to launch eSanta portal was taken by NaCSA.

      NaCSA

      National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture is an arm of Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) that operates under Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The main objective of NaCSA is to encourage and uplift small and marginal farmers through organisation of clusters and also by adopting best practices in shrimp culture.

      Benefits of the portal

      • The use of modern tools and techniques like that of eSanta will help to increase shrimp production from the current 40,000 tonnes to six to seven lakh tonnes.
      • The portal will benefit 18,000 farmers who are currently contributing to marine exports of the country.

      Need for eSanta portal

      The aqua products are exported to America, European Union, China, Japan and other Asian countries. In spite of ranking second in aquaculture in the world, aqua farmers in India are facing difficulties to get best price from the market. The portal will help to address this problem.

      Fishing in India

      The fishing in India employs 14.5 million people. It contributes to 1.07% of total GDP.

      National Fish Farmers Day

      Every year, India celebrates National Fish Farmers Day on July 10.

      Issues of Fishing Economy in India

      The fish production in India has increased from 7.52 lakh tonnes in 1950-51 to 125.90 lakh tonnes in 2018-19. In spite of the rapid growth in the industry, annual production of an individual fish farmer is only 2 tonnes. On other hand, it is 6 tonnes in China, 72 tonnes in Chile and 172 tonnes in Norway.