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CURRENT AFFAIRSTHE HINDU : AUGUST 2019

Daily Current Affairs : 12th August 2019 : The Hindu News Analysis



The status of Bharat Stage VI mass emission standards

The Union Government, through an order dated September 16, 2016, mandated BS-VI mass emission standards for various classes of motor vehicles throughout the country from April 1, 2020, leapfrogging BS-V.

What makes BS-VI fuels cleaner?

According to the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) norms for upgraded fuels, (IS: 2796 - petrol and IS: 1460 - diesel), sulphur content is reduced to 10mg/kg max in BS-VI from 50mg/kg under BS-IV.

This key reduction in the sulphur content makes it possible to equip vehicles with better catalytic converters that capture pollutants.

BS-VI provides various benefits, the most crucial of which is limits set on Particle Number (PN) for engines a reference to direct injection engines that emit more particulates but are more efficient and release less carbon dioxide.

Also, there are lower limits for hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides in diesel engines and lower Particulate Matter limits for both petrol and diesel engines.

Impact on Consumers

The price of the vehicles are the biggest impact factor both for commercial and passenger vehicles under the BS-VI regime, with one industry research estimate putting the increase at up to Rs. 20,000 for petrol cars, Rs. 65,000 to Rs.90,000 for diesel cars, going up to Rs. 2.25 lakh for heavy commercial vehicles.

Even two wheelers, requiring fuel injection technology, will witness a price spike of Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 6,000.

In terms of fuel, the retail price increase for BS-VI fuel could be anything from a few paise per litre to Rs. 2.

What to be done with already manufactured BS-IV conforming vehicles?

Since there is no prohibition on the operation of existing vehicles beyond the cut-off date for BS-VI, i.e., April 1, 2020, the inventory of personal and commercial vehicles will continue to be sold.

After the deadline, however, all new vehicles sold must comply with BS-VI.

What does a shift from BS-IV to BS-VI means?

If we look at the estimates as of January 1 this year, there were 57,468 retail fuel outlets of the oil marketing companies across the country. 

Although BS-VI fuel was introduced in the national capital last year, and extended to some contiguous districts in neighbouring States, the release of the higher grade fuel in all the pumps in the country has to be simultaneous. 

The cost of upgrading refineries to produce the higher-quality fuel is estimated at between Rs. 25,000 crore and Rs. 30,000 crore.







WHAT IS THE KEY TO GROWTH : THE LOWER RATES?

Context : The RBI lowered the repo rates to 5.75% in the Monetary Policy Review in June. This was a level which was last seen 9 years ago.




What are Repo rates and Reverse Repo Rates?

The RBI uses the repo rate to influence the interest rate structure in the economy and to manage inflation. Technically, it is defined as the rate at which commercial banks would borrow from the RBI.

The reverse repo rate is the rate of interest the commercial banks would earn when they deposits funds with the RBI.

What is the global stand as far as governments are concerned on cutting rates ?

Traditionally, it is argued that the lower the interest rate, the better for businesses as it brings down the cost of capital, making investments more attractive.
Any government would love this act as the country would then draw higher investments leading to higher growth and more job creation.

Another point of view is that, the government of the day typically has a relatively short-term view when it comes to growth but that as an institution, a central bank has the long-term view where low inflation would eventually lead to high growth scenarios.

A central bank also keeps an eye on the fiscal deficit maintained by the govt. A high fiscal deficit usually makes it difficult for the central bank to rein in inflation, hence causing it to be hawkish and raising interest rates.

Will such a lower rate spur economic growth?

If we talk about the major factors of production, we sum up to 3 major factors, i.e., Capital, Labour and Land. But, Capital is only a necessary, not sufficient, condition.

Land, unless allocated by the local govt., is too costly for investors seeking to set up shop.

On labour, even if adequate hands are available for a job, the skill quotient is still low. Training graduates to be job ready is a form of tax that companies pay.

Also to be taken into account is the market environment and the demand. If the end users are seeing lesser money in hand than earlier, demand will certainly  be impacted.

Now, coming to the question. In an environment where the other factors of production are not favourable for an investor, low interest rates by themselves may not prove attractive enough.

Any revival of economic activity will be contingent on joint efforts by the government on the fiscal front to stimulate demand, and the RBI, to keep interest rates low.

IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON LAND



What are the factors that are driving these climate change?
  • Agriculture, deforestation, and other land use are the significant drivers of the climate change.
  • Together they produce about 23% of the human-caused emissions.
  • Deforestation and food production are often tied together as forests are cleared for agriculture.
  • The global food system contributes up to 37% of the global green house gas emissions, primarily through raising cattle and other ruminants, cultivating rice and applying fertilizers to pastures and rangelands.
What is the impact of climate change on land?
  • Lands are degrading from multiple stressors.
  • Heatwaves are intensifying and becoming more frequent.
  • There is a shift in the rainfall patterns.
  • Water scarcity in dry regions will become an increasingly urgent challenge beyond a global temperature increase of 1.5 degree Celsius. 
  • Climate change is already undermining food security.
  • It is affecting the crop yields.
  • It is driving lower livestock productivity.
  • It is increasing the risk of agricultural pest and disease in some regions.
What could be the possible solutions to this ever-growing problem?
  • Adopting farming practices that work with nature like the Zero Budget Natural Farming.
  • Eliminating food waste.
  • Eating a balanced diet would also help tackle the problem.
  • Switching to balanced and diversified diets rich in plant-based foods and sustainably produced animal-sourced food.
  • Halting deforestation and restoring damaged ecosystems.





DRDO focus on stealth weapons and drones

Directed energy weapons or DEWs are among the next bunch of military technologies that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is focused on.

Laser-based or microwave-based high power DEWs can quietly disable enemy drones or missiles temporarily or permanently without leaving physical debris.

The DRDO's Hyderabad-based lab, Centre for High Energy Systems and Sciences (CHESS) is the node for all related activities.


CENTRAL PUBLIC SECTOR ENTERPRISES-EXCHANGE TRADED FUNDS (CPSE-ETF)

CPSE ETF, is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) comprising public sector enterprises (PSEs). It was launched by the government in March 2014 to help divest its stake in select public sector undertakings through the ETF route.

The ETF is based on the Nifty CPSE index that comprises 11 PSEs such as ONGC, NTPC, Coal India, Indian Oil Corporation, REC, Power Finance Corporation, Bharat Electronics, Oil India, NBCC (India), NLC India and SJVN. 


The parameters based on which companies have been made part of the index include a criteria that they have paid at least 10% dividend in the last two consecutive years.

The CPSE ETF is managed by Reliance Mutual Funds.

How these are Beneficial?

Under normal conditions, the investors always seeks to hold stake in the best of public sector enterprises — the so-called Maharatna, Navaratna and the Miniratna — that have a strong dividend-paying track record.

Incidentally, the dividend yield of the CPSE ETF index is around 5%, higher than the other indices.

While investors get an opportunity to diversify their portfolio through a single ETF, it also has the added advantage of an upfront discount that investors get if invested at the time of the further fund offering or fresh fund offering (FFO).

Also, the fund has a very low expense ratio, which, in turn, enhances the returns.


WHAT IS BAKRID ?

Id–ul–Azha is the commemoration of sacrifice by Prophet Hazrath Ibrahim celebrated the world over by the Muslims annually on the 10th of the Islamic month of Zilhaj.


The story

One night Hazrath Ibrahim (Alaihissalam or peace be upon him) saw in a vision that he was sacrificing his then only son Ismail (pbuh). It was a dream and in reality it was an order from the Omnipotent Allah which demanded sacrifice both from the father and the son.

Hazrath Ibrahim consulted his son Hazrath Ismail, also a Prophet, who in turn readily consented. The rising sun of the 10th of Zilhaj saw the scene of a father preparing to sacrifice his son in implicit obedience to his Maker.

Hazrath Ibrahim (pbuh) walked towards the hill of Marwa along with Ismail (pbuh). Ibrahim (pbuh) put his arm around Ismail (pbuh) and hugged him with tear-streaked face. He laid him down, blind-folded himself and got ready to perform the sacrifice.

Disappointment flooded through Ibrahim (pbuh) as the thoughts finally took shape. Surprise was in store for Ibrahim (pbuh) when he saw his son Ismail (pbuh) standing, his eyes sparkling with vitality and a smile on his tranquil face. Hazrath Ibrahim (pbuh) construed that his sacrifice had been rejected.

Thereupon Allah said: “We called out to him “O Abraham!. Thou hast already fulfilled vision! — thus indeed Do we reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial — And we ransomed him with a Great Sacrifice. And we left (This blessing) for him among generations (To come) in later times” (The Holy Qur’an: XXXVII–104 to 108).

Allah requires our will and devotion (22:37) and sacrificing the goat is one of the rites of the Haj to be performed by every Muslim who can afford it.

QUICK FEEDS
  • ‘Listening, Learning and Leading’ , is the book that is launched by the Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah. The book is based on the Vice President of India, Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu’s two years in office. 
    • The book encapsulates a  glimpses of the Vice President’s 330 public engagements across the country during this period.
  • Lunar bears : Tardigrades, aka water bears, are loose on the moon. The near-indestructible creatures, less than a millimetre long, can survive even in the vacuum of space.
    • They were aboard an Israeli spacecraft that crashed on the surface of the moon in April. It was reported that they may still be alive.
TARDIGRADE

  • A report has claimed that researchers from institutes in the U.S. and Spain has produced the first monkey-human hybrid in China, reopening debates about the ethics of human-animal chimeras. The researchers saw in chimeras the potential to create organs for human life-saving transplants.
  • 'Uber for Tractor' app is to be launched by the government soon to  help farmers. 
    • The Custom Hiring Centre (CHC) app is already open for registrations by the farmers, societies and entrepreneurs who run these centres. So far, almost 26,800 CHCs have registered to offer almost 1 lakh pieces for hire.

    • The Ministry’s app will also create an invaluable database for policymakers, who can track the use and cost of equipment.
  • HC upholds Section 7(3) of Extradition Act
    • The court argued that there can be no parity between Indian laws and laws of other nations.
    • The petition argued that the rules applicable to the Indian citizens where extradition is sought to the United States was “discriminatory” against the rules applicable to U.S. nationals whose extradition is sought to India.
  • Chandrima Shaha, is set to be the first women President of Indian National Science Academy (INSA).
  • CRPF  starts new Helpline Number for Kashmiris.
    • The helpline posted a message on Twitter, saying people can call 9469793260 “for any assistance or updates”.
    • The helpline will also share with the callers the active contact numbers of local police stations so that people can further get in touch with them to obtain or send information about their near and dear ones.
  • India also cancelled Samjhauta Express


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