Current Affairs 22nd August 2019

Current Affairs 22nd August 2019 covers some important current affairs based on the examination point of view like NISHTHA  programme to train teachers, Corporisation of OFB, Banning of single-use plastic, SEBI simplifies norms for foreign investors etc.

Daily Current Affairs 22nd August 2019 covers some important current affairs based on the examination point of view. All Current Affairs are mentioned below:-
  • Government launches a programme to train teachers
  • Government to set up a committee to study corporisation of OFB.
  • Centre has asked Dairy Co-ops to halve plastic use & Railways banning single-use plastic from October 2
  • Rajnath Singh approved measures for a restructuring of Army HQ
  • SEBI simplifies norms for Foreign Investors
  • Raghu Gauba appointed as Cabinet Secretary
  • Microplastics in drinking water, not a risk for now- WHO

Government launches a programme to train teachers:-

HRD Ministry has launched the National Initiative for School Heads' and Teachers' Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) Programme to train teachers. Recently the government has launched a programme to train Madrasa teachers across the country in subjects like English Mathematics & Computers for mainstream education.

About Programme:- More than 42 lakhs teachers and principal of primary schools and government schools across the country will undergo five-day training methods, the use of art and technology in the classroom and basic counselling techniques.

Government to set up a committee to study corporisation of OFB:-

The Government is set to form a high-level committee to examine the aspects of corporisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) & workout the modalities. A high-level committee will study the issue and take a call on what needs to be done.

Why there is a need for change?

The Kolkata-headquartered OFB with 41 factories spread across the country functions under the Department of Defence Production. Due to this every decision and action needs the approval of the Cabinet whereas on the other side the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) do not have such hassles and have been establishing joint ventures and partnerships for technology development and other things.

The Centre believes that corporatizing the OFB will improve operational flexibility and bring in autonomy. The move could also positively improve quality, reduce costs, and provide opportunities to the OFB to enter into joint ventures with the private sector and provide new technologies.

About OFB:-

OFB is the largest manufacturer of Defence equipment in India. It has 41 ordnance factories which are spread all across the country. Its headquarter is in Kolkata. It is often called the "Fourth Arm of Defence" and the "Force Behind the Armed Forces" of India.

The ordnance factories are important as they manufacture artillery, tank guns, rifles, rocket launchers, and other such ammunition.

The T-90 tank, the Arjun tank, the T-72, armoured personnel carriers, night vision devices and also, uniforms, bridges, boats, different kinds of parachutes, truck and mine protected vehicles are all manufactured by the OFB.

Centre has asked Dairy Co-ops to halve plastic use & Railways banning single-use plastic from October 2:-

The Centre has asked all milk co-operatives and private diaries to halve plastic usage by October 2, by subsiding one-litre packs to discourage the use of 500ml packs and by offering a rebate to customers who returned the plastic pouches which then can be recycled.

Under the Extended Producer Responsibility component of the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, revised in 2018, industries are already required to recover and recycle part of the plastic packaging they generate.

Why action is important?

The milk industry is one of the largest users of single-use plastics, with the growing use of disposable pouches replacing milk vendors and vending machines in many areas & In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for an end to single-use plastics.

Indian Railways:- The Indian Railways has decided to enforce a ban on single-use plastic materials on its premises, including trains, with effect from October 2, 2019.

Guidelines by Indian Railways:-

  • Directing the authorities to expedite installation of 1,853 plastic water bottle crushing machines at 360 major stations in the first phase, the Railway Board asked Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Development Corporation (IRCTC) to implement the return of plastic drinking bottles as part of Extended Producer Responsibility.
  • General Managers of Zonal Railways and Production Units were told to encourage all railway vendors to avoid the use of plastic carry bags. 
  • Railway employees were also advised to reduce, reuse and refuse plastic products and to use inexpensive reusable bags to reduce plastic footprint.

Why the action is required?

A Railway Board communication said that Indian Railways was identified as a “Waste Generator” and had to take adequate preventive measures to follow Plastic Waste Management rules.

Rajnath Singh approves measures for restructuring Army HQ:-

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved certain decisions regarding the re-organisation of the Army Headquarters (AHQ), initiating the biggest transformation exercise of the Army since Independence. These measures are part of the four studies being undertaken by the Army for force restructuring and transformation.

The measures approved include:-

  • Separate Vigilance Cell under Chief of Army Staff (COAS) with tri-services representation:-At present, the vigilance function for the COAS is through multiple agencies and there is no single point interface. An independent vigilance cell will be made functional under the COAS. Accordingly, ADG (Vigilance) will be placed directly under the COAS for this purpose. It will have three Colonel-level officers (one each from the Army, the Air Force and the Navy). This will be done within the existing posts at the AHQ.
  • An umbrella organisation under Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) for enhanced focus on Human Rights (HR) issues:-On the HR organisation, the Ministry said that to give high priority for human rights convention and values, it had been decided to set up a special Human Rights Section headed by an ADG (Major General rank officer) directly under the VCOAS and it would be the nodal point to examine any HR violation reports 
  • Re-location of 206 Army Officers from AHQ to formations/units in the field:-
    The third measure would see a trimming down of the officer strength in the AHQ and 206 officers would be posted out to field formations and units. These include three Major Generals, eight Brigadiers, nine Colonels and 186 Lieutenant Colonels

The aim was holistic integration to enhance operational and functional efficiency, optimise budget expenditure, facilitate force modernisation and address aspirations.

SEBI simplifies norms for foreign investors:-

Introduction:- At a time when foreign investors have been selling Indian shares in huge quantum, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has simplified the compliance and operational requirements for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), to make the regulatory framework more investor-friendly.

What measures have been taken by the SEBI Board?

The SEBI board has decided to do away with the requirement that every FPI should have at least 20 investors — known as broad-based in regulatory parlance — while simplifying the KYC (or Know-Your-Customer) document requirement for overseas investors.

The regulator has also allowed central banks of countries that are not members of Bank for International Settlement (BIS) to register as FPIs in India, as per SEBI, such entities are “relatively long term, low-risk investors directly/indirectly managed by the government”. FPIs have cumulatively sold shares worth over ₹22,000 crore in July and August.

The regulator has also brought in clauses to protect the informant from victimisation in the form of termination, suspension or demotion, among other things.

Aim of these measures:- The key focus of the proposed regulations is to simplify and rationalise the existing regulatory framework for foreign portfolio investors in terms of easing the operational constraints and compliance requirements.

Rajiv Gauba appointed as Cabinet Secretary:-

The Modi government on Wednesday appointed outgoing Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba as Cabinet Secretary for two years. His tenure will be effective from August 30, 2019, as per the official order. Mr Gauba will replace P.K. Sinha, who was appointed Cabinet Secretary in 2015.

The order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training has stated that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had also approved his appointment as Officer on Special Duty in the Cabinet Secretariat with immediate effect till he takes over as Cabinet Secretary from August 30.

About Cabinet Secretary:-

Cabinet Secretary is the head of Cabinet Secretariat. He is given a top place among the civil servants in the official warrant of Procedure. Thus, he is the most senior civil servant in India. The Office of Cabinet Secretary was created in India in 1950. However, its tenure is not fixed.

Microplastics in drinking water, not a health risk for now - WHO:-

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said the level of microplastics in drinking-water is not yet dangerous for humans but called for more research into potential future risk. In its first report into the effects of microplastics on human health, WHO looked into the specific impact of microplastics in tap and bottled water.

WHO said that microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed by the human body but said the chance of absorbing very small microplastic particles, including nano-sized plastics, could be higher, although it said data is limited.

Report Findings:- The report warns of other dangers ahead: if plastic emissions in the environment continue at the current rate, microplastics could present widespread risks for aquatic ecosystems in a century, which could in turn increase human exposure.

The solution recommended:- Experts recommend wastewater treatment, which can remove more than 90% of microplastics in water by using treatments such as filtration. WHO said those measures would have a double advantage as it would also address the problem of faecally contaminated water by removing microbial pathogens and chemicals that can cause deadly diarrhoeal diseases.

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