Current Affairs 5th April, 2019


1. RBI cuts benchmark interest rate again, lowers GDP forecast to 7.2%

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The monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for the second consecutive time cut the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to 6%.

In details

  • The committee cited concerns over growth as it lowered the GDP forecast to 7.2% for the current financial year from 7.4% projected in the February policy.

  • The central bank said the output gap remained negative and the domestic economy was facing headwinds, especially on the global front.

  • Output gap refers to the difference between the actual output of the economy and its maximum potential.

  • The need is to strengthen domestic growth impulses by spurring private investment that has remained sluggish.

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Flexible Inflation Targeting Framework (FITF)

  • Now there is a flexible inflation targeting framework in India (after the 2016 amendment to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act, 1934).

  • The amended RBI Act provides for the inflation target to be set by the Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank, once every five years.

  • Current Inflation Target: The Central Government has notified 4 percent Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation as the target for the period from August 5, 2016, to March 31, 2021, with the upper tolerance limit of 6 percent and the lower tolerance limit of 2 percent.

  • Factors that constitute a failure to achieve the inflation target:

  • The average inflation is more than the upper tolerance level of the inflation target for any three consecutive quarters

  • The average inflation is less than the lower tolerance level for any three consecutive quarters.

Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

  • Now in India, the policy interest rate required to achieve the inflation target is decided by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

  • MPC is a six-member committee constituted by the Central Government (Section 45ZB of the amended RBI Act, 1934).

  • MPC is required to meet at least four times in a year. The quorum for the meeting of the MPC is four members.

  • Each member of the MPC has one vote, and in the event of an equality of votes, the Governor has a second or casting vote.

  • The resolution adopted by the MPC is published after the conclusion of every meeting of the MPC.

2. Adichanallur site belongs to a period between 905 and 696 BC

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Carbon dating of samples excavated from the Adichanallur site in Thoothukudi district has revealed that they belonged to the period between 905 BC and 696 BC.

In details

  • The March 18, 2019, carbon dating report of samples that were sent to Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory, USA, was submitted to the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

  • A Division Bench observed that this proved Adichanallur was one of the earliest ancient sites in Tamil Nadu.

  • Based on the carbon dating report, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has to take a decision whether it was going to excavate on its own or the Centre would permit the State to excavate the site.

Adichanallur site

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) started digging the site in February 2004, about 100 years after the last excavation activity there.

  • It is an extraordinarily large urn-burial site spread over 114 acres (45.6 hectares) on a low, rocky hillock on the right bank of the Tamiraparani River.

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  • A total of 157 burial urns were found, 57 of them intact and 15 with complete human skeletons inside.

  • Many of the urns, especially those that contained human skeletons, were covered with another urn, in what is called a “twin-pot” system.

  • They had been buried after cutting the rock in circular pits, into which the urns were lowered in a three-tier formation.

  • The earliest burials formed the lowermost tier, which left enough space above to accommodate future burials.

3. CCMB have discovered a new enzyme

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Scientists at CCMB have discovered a new enzyme which helps in breaking cell walls of bacteria and hence, offers a potential for a new drug delivery route to arrest the anti-bacterial resistance.

About the news

  • Researchers discovered that by blocking ‘scissors enzyme’ from functioning, new ways to target microbes could be found, leading to a new wave of antibiotic drug.

  • Other bacteria, too, have the same enzyme working on cell division as the cell wall is fundamental for bacterial growth and division.

  • The new enzyme offers a potential for a new drug delivery route to arrest the anti-bacterial resistance through existing antibiotic drugs.

  • It opens up fresh ways to target microbes, leading to a new wave of antibiotic drugs.

Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology:

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  • The Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) is a premier research organization which conducts high quality basic research and trainings in frontier areas of modern biology.

  • It was set up initially as a semi-autonomous Centre on April 1, 1977 with the Biochemistry Division of the then Regional Research Laboratory (presently, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, IICT) Hyderabad.

  • It is located in Hyderabad and operates under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

  • It is designated as “Centre of Excellence” by the Global Molecular and Cell Biology Network, UNESCO.

4. Health Ministry forms a Solidarity Human Chain

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Ministry of Health and Family Welfare along with World Health Organization (WHO) formed a Solidarity Human Chain as part of the World Health Day celebrations to reaffirm their commitment to bridging gaps and working collaboratively towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

World Health Day

  • In 1948, the First World Health Assembly called for the creation of a "World Health Day".

  • Since 1950, World Health Day has been celebrated on the 7th of April of each year.

  • The objective of World Health Day is to raise global awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO).

  • The theme of World Health Day 2019 is Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.

India's move towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

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  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (2008): It covers the cost of secondary-level hospitalization.

  • National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, CVDs and Stroke (NPPCDS)

  • National Urban health Mission: It provides health care to urban population. Later NRHM and NUHM were clubbed into National Health Mission

  • In addition, there are a number of state-specific schemes. Some involve running free diagnostics facilities and offering free medicines; others are government-funded health insurance schemes in several states.

  • Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY): Launched on 23rd September 2018.

5. UAE’s top honour for PM Narendra Modi

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About the news

  • UAE President has awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi the country’s highest civilian award, "the Order of Zayed"

  • The award is given in recognition of the "pivotal role" he played in strengthening ties between the two nations.

  • UAE’s highest civilian decoration, the Order of Zayed, is awarded to those who contribute to international leadership in strengthening relations with the country.