Open Market Operations:
- RBI will buy ₹10,000 crores of bonds maturing between 2026 and 2030 and sell the same number of T-bills.
- Such open market operations are known as ‘Operation Twist,’.
- Operation Twist was used by the central bank in December last year for the first time.
Impact of the RBI’s move
- The yields on the 10- year bonds dropped by 20 basis points.
- The move will also aid the process of monetary transmission by prompting banks to pass on interest rate cut benefits to their customers.
- The RBI had also recently reduced key policy rate or the repo rate by 75 bps to 4.4% in the monetary policy review.
2. Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897
Why in the News?
- Recently the President of India has approved promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to protect healthcare service personnel and property including their living/working premises against violence during epidemics.
Key Provision of the Ordinance
- The Ordinance provides for making acts of violence cognizable and non-bailable offences. It has provisions for compensation for injury to healthcare service personnel or for causing damage or loss to the property in which healthcare service personnel may have a direct interest concerning the epidemic.
- Violence includes harassment and physical injury and damage to property.
Healthcare service personnel include
- Public and clinical healthcare service providers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical workers, and community health workers.
- Any other persons empowered under the Act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease or spread thereof.
- Any persons declared as such by the State Government, by notification in the Official Gazette.
- Punishment can be imprisonment for a term of three months to five years and with fine of Rs.50,000/- to Rs.2,00,000/-.
- In case of causing grievous hurt, imprisonment shall be for a term six months to seven years and with fine of Rs.1,00,000/- to Rs.5,00,000/-.
About Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897
- The Epidemic Diseases Act was introduced by the British to tackle the epidemic of bubonic plague that broke out in the then state of Bombay.
- This law aims to provide for the better prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.
- Under the Act, temporary provisions or regulations can be made to be observed by the public to tackle or prevent the outbreak of a disease.
3. Swamitva Yojana to boost rural economy
Why in the news?
- Prime Minister has launched ‘Swamitva Yojana’ or Ownership Scheme to map residential land ownership in the rural sector using modern technology like the use of drones.
About the Swamitva Yojana
- The Swamitva scheme, which is launched in pilot mode in 6 states helps to map rural inhabited lands using drones and latest survey methods.
- Swamitva Yojana is aimed to create property ownership record of land in villages and empower the rural population with a grant of an official document confirming their ownership of land titles.
- The residential land in communities will be measured using drones to create a non-disputable record. It is the latest technology for surveying and measuring of land.
- The scheme will be carried out in close coordination with the Central Panchayati Raj ministry, Survey of India, Panchayati Raj departments and Revenue departments of various states.
- Property card for every property in the town will be prepared by states using accurate measurements delivered by drone-mapping.
- These cards will be given to property owners and will be recognised by the land revenue records department.
- The delivery of property rights through an official document will enable villagers to access bank finance using their property as collateral.
- The accurate property records can be used for facilitating tax collection, new building and structure plan, issuing of permits and for thwarting attempts at property grabbing
- The money generated from these local taxes will be used to build rural infrastructure and facilities.
4. GW190412: First merger of two black holes with unequal masses detected
Why in the news?
- Recently, the gravitational wave observatories at LIGO scientific collaboration have detected a merger of two unequal-mass black holes.
- The event, dubbed GW190412, was detected nearly a year ago, and this is almost five years after the first-ever detection of gravitational-wave signals by these powerful detectors. Subsequent analysis of the signal coming from the violent merger showed that it involved two black holes of unequal masses coalescing, one of which was some 30 times the mass of the Sun and the other which had a mass nearly 8 times the solar mass.
- The actual merger took place at 2.5 billion light-years away.
- The detected signal’s waveform has special extra features in it when it corresponds to the merger of two unequal-sized black holes as compared with a merger of equal-sized black holes.
- These features make it possible to infer many more things about the characters in this celestial drama, namely, a more accurate determination of the distance from the event, the spin or angular momentum of the more massive black hole and the orientation of the whole event concerning viewers on Earth.
About Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)
- LIGO is a large-scale physics experiment and observatory to detect cosmic gravitational waves and to develop gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool.
- Two large observatories were built in the United States to detect gravitational waves by laser interferometry.
- These can detect a change in the 4 km mirror spacing of less than a ten-thousandth the charge diameter of a proton.
- LIGO India will come up in Maharashtra, which will also have two arms of 4 km length.
- The project aims to move one Advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India.
- This project is a collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory and three leading institutions in the IndIGO consortium: Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) Gandhinagar, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore.
- It is an ultra-high precision large-scale apparatus, which is expected to show a unique “temperament” determined by the local site characteristics.
5. Special liquidity facility for mutual funds (SLF-MF)
Why in the news?
- The Reserve Bank of India has recently announced a special liquidity window called special liquidity facility for mutual funds of Rs 50, 000 crore to bail out mutual funds hit by the turmoil in the debt fund segment that led to the closure of six credit risk funds by Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund.
How does this special liquidity facility for mutual funds window work?
- Under the SLF-MF, the RBI shall conduct repo operations of 90 days tenor at the fixed repo rate.
- The SLF-MF is on-tap and open-ended, and banks can submit their bids to avail the funding till May 11 or up to utilization of the allocated amount, whichever is earlier.
What will banks do with this money?
- Banks can extend loans to mutual funds and undertake the outright purchase of and/or repos against the collateral of investment-grade corporate bonds, commercial papers (CPs), debentures and certificates of Deposit (CDs) held by MFs.Liquidity support availed under the SLF-MF would be eligible to be classified as held to maturity (HTM) even in excess of 25 per cent of total investment permitted to be included in the HTM portfolio.
Features of the offer
- Exposures under this facility will not be reckoned under the Large Exposure Framework.
- The face value of securities acquired under the SLF-MF and kept in the HTM category will not be reckoned for computation of adjusted non-food bank credit (ANBC) to determine priority sector targets/sub-targets.
- The Support extended to MFs under the SLF-MF shall be exempted from banks’ capital market exposure limits.
6. Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary
Why in the news?
- Amid the countrywide lockdown, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)has recommended coal mining in a part of an elephant reserve (Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary) in Assam.
Panel set up
- The NBWLhad in July 2019 formed a committee comprising its member R. Sukumar, Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden and a representative of the local wildlife division for assessing the mining area.
About Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary
- It is also known as the Jeypore Rainforest which is in the districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia in Assam.
- Dehing is the name of the river that flows through this forest and Patkai is the hill at the foot of which the sanctuary lies.
- Vegetation: It is a deciduous rainforest interspersed with semi-evergreen and lush green flora.
About National Board for Wildlife
- It is a statutory body as it has been constituted under Section 5 A the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- It is the apex body to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries, i.e. Protected Areas.
- It is chaired by Prime minister and has a 47-member board (including the chairman) which usually meets once a year.
7. NEET applies to minority-run medical colleges: Supreme Court
Why in news?
- The Supreme Court recently held the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is mandatory for admission to medical colleges run by religious and linguistic minority communities.
- The judgment was based on a challenge by the colleges to several notifications issued by the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Dental Council of India (DCI) under Sections 10D of the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956 and the Dentists Act of 1948 for uniform entrance examinations.
Highlights of the judgment
- A three-judge Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra held that admissions solely through NEET for graduate and postgraduate medical/dental courses do not violate any fundamental and religious rights of minorities.
- They said that the right to freedom of trade or business is not absolute.
- It is subject to "reasonable restriction in the interest of the students" community to promote merit, recognition of excellence, and to curb the malpractices.
- Provisions do not violate the rights available under Article 30 [right of minorities to administer their institutions] carved out in Section 10D of the MCI Act and the Dentists Act and Regulations framed by MCI/DCI," the court held.
- Uniform entrance exams would ensure improvement in future public health by encouraging merit in furtherance of the Directive Principles enshrined in the Constitution.
Factual News of the Week
Manipur govt commemorates ‘Khongjom Day’ at Khongjom War Memorial Complex
- Manipur Government commemorated ‘Khongjom Day’ at Khongjom War Memorial Complex, remembering the people who valiantly fought in the Anglo-Manipuri War in 1891 on April 23.
- This day is commemorated to pay tribute to the war heroes of Anglo-Manipuri War 1891 who had sacrificed their lives fighting against the British to protect freedom of Manipur.
- The site is about 35 KM south of Imphal in Thoubal district where the battle was fought between Manipuri and British.
Iran launches first military satellite ‘Noor’
- Iran has launched its first military satellite ‘Noor’
- It is a military satellite launched recently by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the country’s armed forces.
- The satellite flew into orbit on top of a multi-stage Qased rocket powered by a combination of solid and liquid fuels.
Sanjay Kothari appointed as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner
- Sanjay Kothari took oath as the new Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).
- Prior to this, he was working as the Secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind.
- The CVC is a Statutory body and derives its powers from Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2013.
First digital geological map of moon released by US Geological Survey
- The first ever digital, unified, global, geological map of the moon was released virtually by United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and Lunar Planetary Institute.
- The map is a ‘seamless, globally consistent, 1:5,000,000-scale geologic map’.
- It will serve as a blueprint for future human missions and a source of research-analysis in lunar geology.
- It is only available in GIS and PDF formats.
World Bank released Commodity Market Outlook
- World Bank’s April 2020 Commodity Markets Outlook has been released.
- The report forecasts prices for 46 key commodities, including oil
- As per the report, most commodity prices are expected to decrease substantially in 2020 due to coronavirus.
- Commodity Markets Outlook provides market analysis for major commodity groups like energy, metals, agriculture, precious metals, and fertilizers which is published in April and October.
Saudi Arabia ends the death penalty for crimes committed by minors
- Saudi Arabia has ended the death penalty for crimes committed by minors.
- Instead, the individual will receive a prison sentence of no longer than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility.
- Saudi Arabia has already ended the practice of flogging recently.
- The step is taken to blunt the criticism of the human rights faced by Saudi Arabia at the international level and an attempt to carry out reforms as per the vision 2030 projected by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin
UP becomes first state with the in-house facility of virtual courts
- Uttar Pradesh has become the first state to have the requisite infrastructure in all its courts for hearing cases through video conferencing.
- The Allahabad High Court took several initiatives to facilitate court proceedings through video conferencing and recently software has been installed in the high court and district courts of the state that can help in video proceedings without any internet connectivity.
- This connectivity is completely secure and seamless.
SIPRI released data on Global military expenditure
- Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released Global military expenditure data that shows a rise of 3.6% (USD 1,917 billion) in 2019.
- This is the largest annual spike in a decade since 2010 with China and India being the 2nd and 3rd largest spenders after the US for the first time.
- India (USD 71.1 billion) and China (USD 261 million) were followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia.
- Headquarter of SIPRI: Solna, Sweden.
Australia cancelled exercise Pitch Black 2020
- Australia’s multilateral air combat training exercise, Pitch Black 2020 has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.
- In Pitch Black 2018, the Indian Air Force had for the first-time deployed fighter aircraft for the exercise.
- Exercise Pitch Black is the Royal Australian Air Force’s biennial capstone International Engagement activity with forces participating from a wide range of regional, coalition and allied nations developing and enhancing military relationships.
North Pole's largest-ever ozone hole finally closes
- Copernicus’ Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) announced that the largest Ozone Hole recorded over the North Pole has now ‘Healed Itself’ and Closed due to polar vertex which is a low-pressure area and a wide expanse of swirling cold air of polar regions.
- Due to unusual climatic conditions, the ozone hole in the Arctic region increased spanning an area of 620,000 square miles.
- The ozone layer is a portion of Earth's upper atmosphere that shields the planet from UV rays.