A Currency and Finance (RCF) report by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) official has recommended that, the time span that was considered to measure whether monetary policy-setting panel has failed in achieving its objectives or not should be of four quarters rather than current time period of three-quarter. However, RBI made it clear that the report does not represent any institutional view with respect to it.
The report also recommends that roll the terms for the members in six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in order to moderate the political influence at the place of current appointments for the fixed term.
The recommendations in the report have come after a period when the inflation target constantly touches upper-end of 6 per cent headline inflation target for several months.
The expert also points out that, the Monetary policy committee should explain in this regard except for the lack of appropriate field visits to arrive at data during the lockdown.
Report highlights that, the definition for failure of MPC needs to be revised from the present three-quarter horizon.
According to the report, the failure can be redefined as inflation overshooting or inflation undershooting the upper and lower tolerance bands around the set target for time span of four consecutive quarters.
Report also said that; in the emerging markets which faces food and fuel inflation, for many central banks, failure is also conditional with respect to the inflation exceeding the tolerance limit for a specified time span and not immediately.
Report emphasised that, there should be a greater flexibility for monetary policy and MPC in order to go through sharp movements in food prices which are brought about by transient factors.
The report further states that, the definition of failure that balances two objectives will help in preventing the volatility in the output growth which is brought by the policy responses.
Report stated that, there happens to be no failure of the MPC in accordance with the three-quarter definition till March 2020.
A new highly contagious Covid-19 variant, which is being called as B.1.526, is causing severe damage in the city of New York.
A study published on the Columbia University website states that the new Covid-19 variant is carrying a highly dangerous mutation which have the potential to weaken the efficacy of the vaccine.
The study highlighted that the highly contagious variant was initially identified in samples which were collected in November 2020.
The cases with these new variants have been on a steady rise since December 2020 in the city.
As per the study, the about 12.3 percent of the total cases till mid-February of 2021 were due to this new variant of the corona virus.
It highlights that, one in four cases in the New York city are related to this variant.
The researchers further found that, one area of the spike protein – E484K, was present in of the three contagious variants of the virus.
These three variants include p.1, South African variant and New York variant.
They also stated that, this particular part of the spike protein has negative impacts on the immunity of the body and could exacerbate the condition.
Lineage P.1 or Brazilian Variant
It is a variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease. This variant has 17 unique amino acid changes. Out of them, 10 is present in its spike protein, including the N501Y and E484K. This variant was first detected in Japan on January 6, 2021 by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) in four people. These four people had arrived in Tokyo after visiting the Amazonas in Brazil. The variant caused huge infection in the city of Manaus.
The Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, lauded India and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, for sharing the Covid-19 vaccines and supporting the “Vaccine Equality” across the world.
The Chief of WHO also hoped that other countries will follow the same path to distribute the vaccines equally.
WHO chief made a statement that, India’s commitment to COVAX and sharing the covid-19 vaccines have helped more than 60 countries as they have started vaccinating their health workers and other priority groups.
He further stated that if everyone acts together and share the knowledge, this pandemic could be stopped to save lives and livelihoods of the people.
In January 2021, the chief of WHO had also expressed his gratitude to India for its continued support to the world in fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Further, in the initial days of February 2021, the WHO Chief had requested the drug makers and wealthy nations to help in boosting up the manufacture and distribution of Coronavirus vaccines across the world.
He had also expressed his concerns that if the wealthy nations continue to vaccinate its people and leave behind the vulnerable countries that the pandemic might starts spreading again.
It is a “COVID-19 vaccine Global Access” initiative that was launched by the WHO’s Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).
This initiative was launched with the aim of promoting equal access to vaccines by every country and to stop the “Vaccine Nationalism”.
Under this initiative, India had announced to supply ten Lakh doses to United Nations Health workers and one crore of vaccine doses to Africa In January 2021.
In the line, African State, Ghana, became the first country in the world to receive the vaccine doses under the UN-backed-COVAX initiative. India had delivered 6,00,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine which was made by the Serum Institute of India.
India has also supplied the vaccines to several countries including Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
The Union education minister, addressed the 16th FICCI Higher Education Summit on February 25, 2021. The summit is being organised in New Delhi from February 25, 2021 to February 27, 2021. While addressing the summit the minister said it will make India the knowledge capital of the world.
The policy allows the students to be more creative in their respective fields since it focuses on entrepreneurship, innovation and skill development.
Minister also said, the centre is looking for a greater private sector participation and has planned to increase the number of Institutes of Eminence (IoEs) from 20 to 50.
He also said, government values the private players and will encourage them for value creation in education.
It will also confer IoE status to 25 select private institutions.
IoEs enjoy the administrative, academic and financial autonomy so as to compete at the global level.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)
The FICCI was established in the year 1927. It is the largest and oldest apex business organisation of India. It is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation which acts as the voice of business and industry in India. The organisation is involved in the engaging with policy makers & civil society and encouraging debate. The organisation serves as the members from the Indian private & public corporate sectors. The organisation also provides the platform for networking and consensus building across sectors. It is the first port of call for the Indian industry, international business community and policy makers.
Institutes of Eminence (IoE)
It is a recognition scheme for the higher education institutes of India. This recognition is set by University Grants Commission in 2017. The plan is to include twenty institutions out of which 16 have already been declared Institutes of Eminence. The institutes which are recognised as IoE are granted more autonomy with respect to administration and academics.
The Ministry of consumer affairs had decided to integrate the Common Service Centres (CSCs) with the E-Daakhil portal to facilitate the consumers for e-filing.
The e-Daakhil Consumer grievance redressal portal was launched on September 7, 2020 by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission.
This online grievance redressal portal is now operational in 15 States and Union Territories.
The e-daakhil portal empowers the consumer and their advocates to file consumer complaints online.
It also facilitates to male payment of requisite fees online from anywhere in order to redress their complaints.
The portal also facilitates the consumer commissions to scrutinize the complaints online to accept, reject or forward any complaint to the concerned commission in order to proceed further.
The site of the e-Daakhil Portal was developed and is maintained by the National Information Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.
This portal has been developed under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in July 2019 by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan and was passed by the Lok Sabha in July 2019. In the month of August 2019, it was passed by the Rajya Sabha as well. The act repealed and replaced the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. This act came into effect from July 2020. The act focuses on providing the customer more power bringing more transparency. Following this, the government also declared a new draft known as advertising code in September 2020. This code provides the customer protection against any false advertisements. It also protects them from the celebrities who fool the customers by doing paid reviews for any products or services. This advertising code is applicable throughout all the mediums of communication such as Social Media and Print Media.
The Global anti-terrorism watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to maintain Pakistan into Grey List till June 2021 on February 25, 2021.
This decision by the FATF was taken in the light of country’s failure to fully comply with the 27-point action plan of to combat the terrorism.
This decision was taken following a virtual plenary session that was over three days.
The FATF has decided to keep the Pakistan into the grey list and will remain under the increased monitoring because serious deficiencies were observed with respect to the terror financing.
Though, Pakistan has taken several steps but it needs to act upon three important points out of 27 action points.
What does FATF said?
FATF said that, Pakistan needs to work on implementing following three remaining items out of 27 items:
It needs to demonstrate the Terror funding investigations and prosecutions targeting the persons & entities acting on behalf of the designated persons or entities.
It needs to demonstrate that Terror funding prosecutions results in to Proportionate, effective and dissuasive sanctions.
It needs to demonstrate the effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all the UN security council resolution 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists.
The FATF had also kept the Pakistan into grey list in October, 2020 and decided that FATF will continue to make it difficult for Pakistan to get aid from World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, and European Union. India being a member of FATF also has repeatedly asked Pakistan to take necessary steps comply with the international standards to stop the financial crimes.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1267
This resolution was adopted on October 15, 1999. Under this resolution, Council had designated Osama bin Laden and the associates as terrorists. The council established a sanctions regime in order to cover the individuals and entities who are associated with the Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden or Taliban.
The second edition of the Khelo India Winter Games began at Gulmarg in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on February 26, 2021. This is a five-day event and will conclude on March 2, 2021.
The event will observe the participation of athletes from across India.
The Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports, Kiren Rijiju, reached Srinagar to attend the event.
It will officially kick-start in the Ski resort of Gulmarg in Baramulla district of north Kashmir.
It will be virtually inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The event will include the sports activities such as ice-skating, shoe race, skiing, ice-hockey, Nordic ski, snowboarding, ice stock and ski mountaineering.
It is being organised by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in association with the Winter Games Association of Jammu & Kashmir and J&K Sports Council.
The event will include several recreational games that will work as engaging activities for locals, tourists and visiting athletes.
The games will commence with the cultural presentations and participation of various dignitaries and one thousand athletes.
Khelo India Winter Games
It is a national level multidisciplinary grassroot winter games in India. The winter events comprise of the snow rugby, snow skiing, snow ice stock, snow baseball, snow shoe, ice hockey, snow mountaineering, figure skating and speed skating. The Khelo India Winter Games was started in the year 2020 following the success of multiple editions of Khelo India Youth Games.
Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG)
It was formerly known as Khelo India School Games (KISG). This event is held annually in the month of January or February. It is a national level multidisciplinary grassroot games which is organised for two categories. The first category is under-17 years school students while the second category is under-21 college students. In this annual event, best 1000 kids are given the scholarship of ₹5 lakh for 8 years in order to prepare them for international sport events.
The task force on Interlinking of Rivers has approved the Mahanadi-Godavari Link on February 25, 2021. Approval was given to the preparation of final detailed project report on proposed Mahanadi -Godavari link.
The linking project was approved by ensuring the utilisation of allocated Godavari waters by the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The decision was taken at the 13th meeting of the task force on interlinking of rivers which was held in New Delhi.
In the meeting, three proposals were discussed and put forward by the task force chairman, Sriram Vedire.
The proposals were based on draft detailed project report that was prepared with respect to the diversion of water from Godavari basin to Cauvery basin.
The task force also emphasised on the several priority links under the interlinking of rivers programme by the central government.
The draft detailed project report was prepared on Godavari-Cauvery link the National Water Development Authority (NWDA).
National Water Development Agency (NWDA)
It is a Registered Society working under the Ministry of Irrigation which is now called as Ministry of Water Resources. The agency was set up in 1982. The agency is involved in carrying out the detailed studies, surveys and investigations with respect to the Peninsular Component of National Perspective for the Water Resources Development. Later its function was modified to include the Himalayan Component of National Perspective for Water Resources Development in the year 1994. The composition of Society and Governing Body was also modified in the year 2003 & 2004 respectively. The NWDA was authorised to explore the feasibility of linking sub-basins of rivers in States such as Bihar in the year 2006. It then worked for preparation of Detailed Project Report of Ken-Betwa river link in accordance with the priority links under Peninsular Component of National Perspective Plan.
India and Ireland held the bilateral consultations on UN Security Council issues on February 26, 2021 in the virtual mode.
During the bilateral consultations, both the countries congratulated each other for their election to United Nation Security Council (UNSC).
They also held discussions and briefed each regarding the UNSC priorities.
They further held discussions on several issues on UNSC agenda and they agreed to work closely during their terms at the UNSC in 2021-2021.
The bilateral relation between India and Ireland dates back to the British Era. Both the countries were former possessions of the British Empire. They flighted against the common adversary. Both the countries also flighted together for their respective independence movements. India has brought many of the constitutional provisions from Irish constitution. The relation between both the countries were strengthened by people including Rabindranath Tagore Jawaharlal Nehru, Sister Nivedita and Annie Besant.
During the independence struggle, leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Eamon de Valera were in talk with each other. Similarly, Vithalbhai Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose and other Irish nationalist leaders were in touch with each other. The strongest link between both the countries was Annie Besant who belonged to an Irish family but was a supporter of Indian self-rule.
Home Rule League
Annie Besant had launched the Home Rule League to make Indian independence similar to Irish struggle.
The Formal relation between both the countries started in 1947 after Indian independence, while diplomatic exchange was started at the later stage with the establishment of Indian embassy in Ireland in the year 1951. Ireland opened its embassy in India in 1964.
The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, announced that all departments of Delhi government will now use only electric vehicles. This transition to the electric vehicles will be done within 6 months.
The Delhi government has over 2,000 cars in use.
The minister is of the view that this decision will inspire other cities in the country as well as world which is a key decision to tackle the issues like pollution and climate change.
This announcement was made after the government launched ‘Switch Delhi’ campaign.
The transition from the diesel or petrol vehicle to EVs will be monitored by the Transport Department of Delhi.
Further, the departments under the government are required to produce monthly action reports on the transition to EVs to the nodal department.
Switch Delhi Campaign
Switch Delhi Campaign was launched in order to encourage the private vehicle owners to shift to the electric vehicles and install a charging point in their premises within three years.
It is an eight-week mass awareness campaign.
This campaign seeks to sensitize each and every Delhiite regarding the benefits of switching to EVs.
It also seeks to make the public aware of the incentives and infrastructure which are being developed under Delhi’s EV policy.
The campaign was launched with the aim of informing, encouraging, and motivating every person in Delhi to switch from the polluting vehicles to zero-emission electric vehicles.
First two weeks of the campaign will focus to promote two and three-wheeler owners to adopt to EVs.
While, the third week of the campaign will focus on four-wheeler vehicle owners to shift to EVs.
The Delhi government had launched its Electric Vehicle Policy in August 2020. The policy was launched in order to tackle the problem of air pollution. Under this policy, the government proposed to waive off the registration fee and road tax. The government will also be providing an incentive of up to ₹1.5 lakh for new electric cars in Delhi. Under it, 12 four-wheeler models are available and eligible to get the purchase and scrapping incentives.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) has launched a standard personal accident cover called Saral Suraksha Bima. This accident cover will be mandatorily offered by the general and health insurers from April 1, 2021.
Saral Suraksha Bima
This product has assured maximum sum of Rs 1 crore while the minimum assured sum of Rs 2.5 lakh.
Beyond this specified range, insurers are free to offer the sum assured on their own. For such sum assured, same name can be given if all terms and conditions are same.
The product also comprises of a basic cover for which entire sum assured will be paid by the insurance company after the death of insured person because of injury sustained in accident. In such cases, death occurs within 12 months from the date of accident.
In cases of the permanent total disablement, similar benefit will be paid by insurance firm.
In the partial disablement condition, benefit equal to the sum assured of up to 50 % will be paid in accordance with the severity of disablement.
Policyholder will get benefit under the base cover even after policy period has ended but the benefits should be availed within 12 months from date of accident.
The company will also be providing an Optional cover. Under the optional cover, if insured person sustains an injury in an accident because of which they are incapable of engaging in employment then those persons will be eligible for the compensation at 0.2 percent rate of the base sum insured in a week till they get return to work.
Under the policy, hospitalisation expenses will be compensated up to the limit of 10 percent of base sum insured.
One-time educational grant of 10 percent of the base sum insured will also be payable to the dependent children of the insured. In order to avail the benefits, the children should be pursuing an educational course and should not above age of 25.
Further, the sum insured will be increased by 5 per cent every year for each of the claim-free policy year. In such cases, Policy is required to be renewed without break.
In the month of January-February six elephants died at the Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary in Kalahandi. Following that, a central team was set up by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The team in its preliminary report highlighted that, the elephants died because of haemorrhagic septicaemia which is caused by bacteria Pastuerella multoceda.
The report further highlights that, the elephants might have contracted the bacteria from cattle residing at Tentulipada village.
Tentulipada village is a small hamlet of 12 households in Odisha.
The team had conducted the post-mortems and RNA extraction tests at the Orissa Veterinary College to come to the conclusion however, samples have been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly, UP for final confirmation.
The elephants are supposed to be died in between January 29 and February 14, 2021. Their carcasses found near water bodies. A total of seven elephants comprising of five adults and two calves died and all of them were females.
Preliminary tests confirm that, all of them had very high levels of Pastuerella multoceda.
It is a Gram-negative, nonmotile, penicillin-sensitive coccobacillus that belongs to the family Pasteurellaceae. Strains of this species are classified into five serogroups namely A, B, D, E, F. they have subdivided into fiver groups on the basis of capsular composition and 16 somatic serovars. This germ causes several diseases in the mammals and birds. Some of the diseases include fowl cholera in poultry, bovine hemorrhagic septicemia in cattle & buffalo and atrophic rhinitis in pigs. It also causes a zoonotic infection in humans because of bites or scratches from domestic pets. Mammals such as domestic cats & dogs and birds harbour it under their normal respiratory microbiota.
Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary
This wildlife sanctuary is located in Kalahandi district which is a popular tourist attraction of Odisha in India. It is located at this distance of 15 km from Bhawani Patna (district headquarters). It covers an area of 175 square kilometres. It lies in the Eastern Highlands moist deciduous forests. The sanctuary is home to leopard, tiger, nilgai, sambar, mouse deer, barking deer etc.