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Current Affairs > English > 2019-01-03 > Editorial


The Union Cabinet has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Morocco on cooperation in the area of Cyber Security.  

         The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation for exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of security-related incidents between India and Morocco.

         Implementation of the MoU will result in significant mutual benefits in the Cyber Security sector, through institutional and capacity building with Morocco in the field of Cyber Security.


Key words: India-Morocco, Cyber Security


Merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda


The Union Cabinet has approved the scheme of amalgamation for amalgamating Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank, with Bank of Baroda as the transferee bank and Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank as transferor banks.

         The amalgamation will be the first-ever three-way consolidation of banks in India, with the amalgamated bank being India's second largest Public Sector Bank.

         The amalgamation will help create a strong globally competitive bank with economies of scale and enable realisation of wide-ranging synergies.

         Leveraging of networks, low-cost deposits and subsidiaries of the three banks has the potential of yielding significant synergies for positioning the consolidated entity for substantial rise in customer base, market reach, operational efficiency, wider bouquet of products and services, and improved access for customers.


Some of the strengths of the envisaged amalgamated entity are-

         The amalgamated bank will be better equipped in the changing environment to meet the credit needs of a growing economy, absorb shocks and capacity to raise resources. Economies of scale and wider scope would position it for improved profitability, wider product offerings, and adoption of technology and best practices across amalgamating entities for cost efficiency and improved risk management, and financial inclusion through wider reach.

         It would also enable creation of a bank with scale comparable to global banks and capable of competing effectively in India and globally.

         Strengths of individual banks - such as Dena Bank's relatively higher access to low-cost CASA deposits, Vijaya Bank's profitability and availability of capital for growth, and the extensive and global network and offerings of BoB will translate into advantages in terms of market reach, operational efficiencies and the ability to support a wider offering of product and services.

         The amalgamated banks will have access to a wider talent pool, and a large database that may be leveraged through analytics for competitive advantage in a rapidly digitalising banking context. Benefits would also flow as a result of wider reach and distribution network and reduction in distribution costs for the products and services through subsidiaries.

         Public at large shall benefit in terms of enhanced access to banking services through a stronger network, the ability to support a wider offering of product and services, and easy access to credit.


Key words: Bank Consolidation, Merger of PSBs


Amendment to the Trade Unions Act, 1926


The Union Cabinet has approved Amendment to the Trade Unions Act, 1926 to make provisions regarding Recognition of Trade Unions.



         Recognition of Trade Unions at Central and State level;

         Ensure true representation of workers in the tripartite bodies;

         Check on the arbitrary nomination of workers representatives by the Government; and

         Reduce litigations and industrial unrest.


The proposed Bill will ensure that the nomination of workers representatives in tripartite bodies by the government will become more transparent. Trade Unions so recognized would be accountable in maintaining industrial harmony. 

Recognition of Trade Unions at Central/State level would reduce duplicacy of such exercise by different departments. Recognized Trade Unions may be assigned specific roles at Central or State level.


Key words: Trade Unions Act 1926,Trade unions


Rastriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram


The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of Rastriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram Scheme for the Period 2017-18 to 2019-2020 with budget outlay of Rs.1160 crore.



During 12th FYP period, in rationalization exercise undertaken in consultation with Ministry of Finance and NITI Aayog, the eight schemes were brought under the umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram as sub-schemes. 

The Scheme beneficiaries are the youth in the age-group of 15-29 years, in line with the definition of 'youth' in the National Youth Policy, 2014. In case of programme components specifically meant for the adolescents, the age-group is 10-19 years.


Following are eight sub-schemes under Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram:

  1. Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan(NYKS);
  2. National Youth Corps (NYC);
  3. National Programme for Youth & Adolescent Development (NPYAD);
  4. International Cooperation;
  5. Youth Hostels (YH);
  6. Assistance to Scouting & Guiding Organizations;
  7. National Discipline Scheme (NDS); and
  8. National Young Leaders Programme (NYLP).



The Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram Scheme is an ongoing Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and has been continuing since 12th Five Year Plan. The Scheme aims to develop the personality and leadership qualities of the youth and to engage them in nation building activities.


Key words: Rashtriya Yuva Sashaktikaran Karyakram, Youth Affairs



Umbrella Scheme for Family Welfare and Other Health Interventions

Cabinet has given its approval for continuation of five schemes under the "Umbrella Scheme for Family Welfare and Other Health Interventions" during the Fourteenth Finance Commission period 2017-18 to 2019-20.



An overall outlay of Rs. 2381.84 crore for the scheme will be spent during the Fourteenth Finance Commission period 2017-18 to 2019-20 and would be funded 100% by Central Government Budgetary support.



Components of, Social Marketing of Contraceptives, Free Supply of Contraceptives are specifically targeted towards low income group people. However, the overall scheme is not restricted to any particular group or category and has a mandate to cover the population throughout India.



The five schemes listed in the proposal are crucial to attaining the goals and objectives laid out in National Health Policy (NHP) 2017, and international commitments in the form of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SNA scheme has a very ambitious target of improving health seeking behaviour of the population through increased awareness and enhanced uptake of health services.

The other components as HSHR would assist in keeping a tab on the progress of entire set of health programmes/schemes run by Government of India, assisting in timely course corrections. The free and social marketing of contraceptives will enable better child and mother health, besides population stabilisation.


Implementation strategy and targets:

The target is to support the key goals of the National Health Policy 2017 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which India is a signatory.

The attempt through Media / IEC outreach is to move from care for sickness to the concept of wellness by using 360 degree approach in conventional and social media.

The target of the free distribution and social marketing of contraceptives is to improve the Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR), help Family Planning and reach population stabilization.

The target for NFHS is to provide reliable data on all health indicators.


All the five schemes are Central Sector Schemes with 100% funding from Central Government.  These are as follows:

Swastha Nagrik Abhiyan(SNA): 

For dissemination of information on health issues to create awareness among citizens of India of ail age/sex/locations and appropriately influence their health seeking behavior to encourage healthy lifestyles and empower the citizens. SNA has been approved, with an estimated outlay of Rs. 1030.15 crore for three years.

Free Supply of Contraceptives: 

For providing free supply of contraceptives including   condoms,  Oral    Contraceptive    Pills,    Pregnancy    Test    Kits,    other contraceptives, etc. to States with a view to improve Maternal and Child Health andachieving population stabilization.

MIS Scheme now proposed as Health Surveys and Health Research (HSHR): 

For sourcing of data on population, health and nutrition for India and its States including through periodically conducted National Family Health Survey, which is one of the largest surveys of its kind worldwide. The NFHS provides valuable data for policy and programmes right up to the district level.

Social Marketing of Contraceptives: 

For branding, attractively packaging, marketing arid selling of products and services related to Family Planning for low-income groups at affordable prices.


Population Research Centres (PRCs): 

For third party evaluation of the scheme on PRCs and specially of those centres which are being considered for continuation will be carried out.

Key words: Umbrella Scheme for health and family welfare, Swastha Nagrik Abhiyan








Why in News

According to a study published in the international journal Biological Conservation.



         In four decades, the country lost almost one-fourth of the grasslands and exotic invasive trees are primarily to blame, find scientists.

         Though grassland afforestation using pine, acacia and eucalyptus ceased in 1996, the exotics still invade these ecosystems, confirms


Shola-grasslands (characterised by patches of stunted evergreen shola trees in the valleys and grasslands on hill slopes) across the Ghats from the Baba Budan Hills in Karnataka to Tamil Nadu's Ashambu Hills changed in extent between 1972 and 2017.

         The satellite images scientists accessed reveal that 60% of the shola-grassland landscape has changed; almost 40% (516 km2) of native high-elevation grasslands have disappeared.

         Most of this loss occurred on the mountain tops of the Nilgiri, Palani and Anamalai hill ranges, which comprise more than half of the Ghats shola-grassland ecosystems, primarily due to the expansion of exotic trees (pine, acacia and eucalyptus).

         Even though no plantations were established between 2003 and 2017, invasion by existing trees increased areas under exotic plantations by 27% in the Palanis and 17% in the Nilgiris.

         Broadly, shola-grassland ecosystems in Tamil Nadu showed the highest rates of invasion.



Key words: Biodiversity, Sholas, Western Ghats, Invasive Species




Why in News

Law Minister introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha that will provide legal backing for voluntary seeding of biometric Aadhaar ID with mobile numbers and bank accounts after the Supreme Court barred mandatory use of the 12-digit unique identifier by private firms.



The proposed amendment Bill was in compliance with the Supreme Courts judgment and that there would be no infringement of privacy.


         Govt seeks to amend the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 ,the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002.

         Acts are being changed to allow voluntary sharing of the 12-digit identification number for obtaining new mobile phone connections and for the opening of bank accounts.

         Under the proposed changes, an Aadhaar holder can opt for offline verification using a QR scan and will not require to share the actual Aadhaar number.


Key words: Aadhar, Privacy, Supreme Court



Assam Accord


Why in News

The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of a high-level committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.


It provides for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assam.

Cabinet also recommended reserving Assembly seats for indigenous communities in the State.

The Cabinet approved several measures to fulfil the demands of the Bodo community.

         It approved the establishment of a Bodo Museum-cum-language and cultural study centre, modernisation of the existing AIR station and Doordarshan Kendra at Kokrajhar and naming a superfast train as Aronai Express.


Key words: Assam Accord, Bodo Museum

International Relations

Taiwans unification with China

Why in News?

Chinese President Xi Jinping said, Taiwans unification with the mainland is inevitable and warned against any efforts to promote the islands independence.

         He also said that China would not renounce the option of using military force to bring it into the fold.

         In a reaction, Taiwans President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwans people would never willingly give up the kind of democratic freedoms unseen on the mainland.

         China still sees democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

         Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state, with its own currency, political and judicial systems, but has never declared formal independence from the mainland.

         Relations have been strained since the 2016 election of President Tsai, who has refused to acknowledge Beijings stance that the island is part of one China.

Keywords China, Taiwan, independence.


International Relations

China building advanced warships for Pak.

Why in News?

China is building the first of four most advanced naval warships for Pakistan as part of a major bilateral arms deal.

         The aim of the deal is to ensure among other things balance of power in the strategic Indian Ocean.

         Equipped with modern detection and weapon systems, it will be capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine and air-defence operations.

         Once constructed, the warship will be one of the largest and technologically advanced platforms of the Pakistani Navy and strengthen the countrys capability to respond to future challenges, maintain peace and stability and the balance of power in the Indian Ocean region.

         It will also support the Pakistan Navys initiative of securing sea lanes for international shipping by patrolling distant waters.

         China, an all-weather ally of Islamabad, is the largest supplier of weapon system to Pakistan.

         Both countries also jointly manufacturing the JF-Thunder, a single engine multi-role combat aircraft.

Keywords China, Pakistan, advanced naval warships, JR-Thunder.


Economy on track to maintain high growth rate:FinMin

Why in News?

The Indian economy is projected to be the fastest-growing major economy in the current year and upcoming fiscal 2019-20, the Finance Ministry said in its Year End Review 2018.

         The average growth of the economy between 2014-15 and 2017-18 was 7.3%, the fastest among major economies in the world, the Ministry said.

         The economy is on track to maintain a high growth rate in the current global environment, it added.

         Measures to spur manufacturing, comprehensive reforms in foreign direct investment policy, special package for the textile industry, push to infrastructure development by giving infrastructure status to affordable housing and focus on coastal connectivity are some of the initiatives taken by the government.

         The direct tax-to-GDP ratio of 5.98% achieved during 2017-18 fiscal is the best in the last 10 years.

         It further said there was a growth of over 80% in the number of tax returns filed in the last four financial years from 3.79 crore in 2013-14 to 6.85 crore in 2017-18.

Keywords growth of Indian economy, FinMin, tax-to-GDP ratio.


RBI panel on MSME revival

Why in News?

The RBI has appointed an eight-member expert committee headed by former SEBI chairman U.K. Sinha to comprehensively review and propose long-term solutions for revival of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector.

         The committee will submit its report by the end of June 2019.

         Among the terms of references, the RBI said, the panel would review the current institutional framework in place to support the MSME sector, and examine the factors affecting the timely and adequate availability of finance to the sector.

         The panel will also review existing MSME-focussed policies and their impact, and study the global best practices with respect to MSMEs and recommend their adoption in India.

         The MSME sector has been facing stress due to the demonetisation exercise and implementation of GST.

Keywords RBI panel on MSME, UK Sinha.