NATIONAL LAB DIRECTORY
Context: The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution launched the National Lab Directory which is a one-stop-shop for all testing needs of the industries, academia, researchers and other stakeholders who need to get their Testing Facilities accredited / certified / recognised.
The National Lab Directory presently hold within NABL accredited, BIS Recognised/Empanelled Labs, Hallmarking Labs. The labs which are recognised/notified by FASAI, APEDA, EIC, can also be indicated accordingly. All testing facilities for various labs can be searched by Products, IS standards, etc. Besides intelligent search cutting across various databases interlinked through APIs, there is an interactive Geographical Information System and Drill Down Dashboard. This Directory will provide benefits all stakeholders such as manufacturers, consumers, regulatory agencies, government and research institutions in identifying the test facilities required for assessing conformity of relevant products or in testing for the purpose of R&D. source: PIB
MoU between Government e-marketplace (GeM) and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
Context: The MoU has been signed to benefit MSMEs, women entrepreneurs, Self Help Groups (SHGs), Women Self Help Groups and various loan beneficiaries under MUDRA and Stand-up India scheme.
This MoU will help promotion of special initiatives of GeM like Womaniya and Start-up Runway with SIDBI stakeholders. Both of these will take steps to ensure payments within a guaranteed time frame to sellers, enhance working capital availability through bill discounting and control NPAs through control of end use. The Government e-Marketplace tends to empower the sellers through the payments within a guaranteed time frame by auto-debiting GeM Pool Account, provide working capital by giving the choice of Bill Discounting to MSMEs – with only PSU banks initially, by linking cost of working capital to the performance and rating of the seller, and by providing creditors better visibility on end use of working capital loans. source: PIB
10 Public Sector Banks to be merged
Context: In a step to introduce new banking reforms, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced merger of 10 public sector banks into 4 entities. This merger would take the number of banks in the country from 27 in 2017 to just 12.
Key points to remember
- Banks to be merged includes:
- Punjab National Bank (PNB), United Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) with a total business of Rs. 18 lakh cr is deemed to be the 2nd largest merger.
- Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank with a total business of Rs. 15.2 lakh cr is deemed to be the 4th largest merger.
- Union Bank, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank with a total business of Rs. 14.6 lakh cr is deemed to be the 5th largest merger.
- Indian Bank and Allahabad Bank with a total business of Rs. 8.08 lakh cr is deemed to be the 7th largest merger.
- Following all these mergers, the country will now have a total of 12 public sector banks, half of which—Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Union Bank of India, Indian Bank, State Bank of India, and Bank of Baroda—will be able to compete at a global level.
source: The Hindu
The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019
Context: The West Bengal Assembly passed the West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019 to prevent and punish mob assaults and lynching.
Key Points of the Bill
- Nodal Officers are proposed to be appointed under the Bill to “monitor and coordinate prevention of lynching”.
- It proposes a jail term from three years to life for those involved in assaulting and injuring a person.
- West Bengal Lynching Compensation Scheme may be framed under this Act.
- According to the Bill, if anyone is found guilty of publishing, communicating and disseminating any offensive material, either physically or electronically, leading to such incidents, shall be liable to imprisonment up to one year and fine up to Rs 50,000.
source: The Hindu
Just 1.2% chemists stock abortion pills in Maharashtra: study
Context: The study which covered 1,008 chemists in Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan has reviewed 252 chemists in 5 cities in Maharashtra and found that only 3 chemists stock the Medical Abortion(MA) pills. Generally, medical abortion is approved up to 9 weeks of gestation and has emerged as the most preferred method of abortion in India. The pills come in a combination pack of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol.
The percentage of retail chemists that are highlighting the legal issues was highest in Maharashtra at 90.4%, followed by Rajasthan at 76.6%, where the drug authorities have been regulating sales of the drugs to check sex selection. source: The Hindu
Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019
Context: The Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed a Bill against conversion by force, inducement or through marriages solemnised for the “sole purpose” of adopting a new religion.
Key Highlights of the Bill
- The Bill seeks to repeal the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006.
- The Bill proposes strict punishments — up to 7 years in jail compared to the 3 years under the existing law.
- The Bill prohibits conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage or any fraudulent means.
- Any marriage for the sole purpose of conversion will also be declared null and void under Section 5 of the Bill.
- According to the Bill, anyone who seeks to convert will need to give a month’s notice to the district magistrate, stating that the person is converting on his/her own.
- The priest who performs conversion ceremony will also give a month’s notice in advance. Those reconverting to their “parent religion” are exempted from this provision.
- In case Dalits, women or minors were made to convert, the Bill proposes a jail term between two-seven years.
- According to the Section 10 of the Bill, any person or organisation who violates the provisions will not be allowed to accept any donation or contribution of any kind from within or outside the country.
source: The Hindu
Influenza A (H1N1) in India – 2019 Study on the changing Epidemiology and its Implications
Context: Researchers from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recently published a study titled ‘Influenza A (H1N1) in India – Changing Epidemiology and its implications’ in the National Medical Journal of India.
Key points of the study
- In April 2009, the first case of Influenza A (H1N1) was reported in Mexico. Later, the infection spread and a total of 214 countries were affected by the pandemic worldwide.
- In India, the past decade (2009-2019) saw as many as 1.58 lakh persons being infected by the virus and over 10,000 succumbing to it.
- Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases numbering 33,280 and around 3,640 deaths since pandemic influenza struck in 2009.
- According to the National Centre for Disease Control data, Rajasthan is the worst hit this year with 5,040 cases and 206 deaths.
- Among the North-Eastern States, – who had never reported influenza A (H1N1) cases in the past, except for 2017 when it notified 44 cases- this year, Tripura registered 31 cases, Sikkim reported eight, while Meghalaya and Manipur reported two each.
- H1N1 or Swine flu is an infection which is caused by Type A influenza viruses.
- It is named after a virus that pigs can get. People do not normally get this flu, but human infections can happen. It was in 2009, when a strain of swine flu called H1N1 infected many people around the globe.
- The virus is highly contagious and can spread from human to human.
- Its symptoms are similar to that of regular human flu and can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
source: Indian Express
Context: Scientists have found the oldest parasite DNA ever to be recorded by humans. The discovery was made in the “coprolite” of a prehistoric puma in Argentina. Recently a team of scientists from Argentina’s National Council of Scientific and Technical Research studied a pre-hisoric puma’s coprolite taken from a rock-shelter in Catamarca province. With the help of carbon dating, they were able to estimate the age of the coprolite at between 16,500-17,000 years. This led to the identification of the oldest parasite DNA found yet. What is Coprolite? How it is analyzed? These are generally the fossilised faeces that belongs to animals that lived millions of years ago. Their shape and size can be analysed and studied by the scientists depending on the location they were found in. They can also figure out the animal from which they came as well as uncover what those animals ate. For instance, if there are fragments of bones in the faeces, scientists can figure out that the animal might have been a carnivore. Tooth marks can reveal how the animal ate. source: Indian Express
- India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate slowed to a six year low of 5% in the first quarter of 2019-20 financial year.
- The case of NRC in Assam, below is the general timeline of how it evolved.
- SpaceCom, command launched by U.S. for space warfare as it sees China and Russia trying hard to erode its advantage in newest military frontier.
- While the U.S. Air Force already has a dedicated space warfare operation, SpaceCom will heighten its importance and foster specialized systems and training for space showdowns.