25 May 2016

World Bank launches Pandemic Emergency Finance Facility

The World Bank has launched Pandemic Emergency Finance Facility (FEP) to help countries and health agencies fight deadly disease outbreaks. FEP is a financing mechanism designed to quickly mobilize funds to tackle global disease outbreaks and create a new insurance market for pandemic risk. It was unveiled at the G-7 Finance Ministers Summit held in Ise-Shima, Japan. Japanese Government has committed to donate $50 million dollars to it, becoming the first donor. 
Key facts 
It was designed and built by World Bank in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the private sector reinsurance companies etc.
 PEF is meant to work almost like an insurance policy, but it will be mainly to protect against deadly disease outbreaks by ensuring “surge funding” to response efforts.
 The funding will be disbursed according to a complex trigger mechanism and activation criteria based on four categories of infectious diseases. It will provide coverage up to US 500 million dollars for outbreaks of infectious diseases most likely to cause major epidemics for an initial period of 3 years. 
The major epidemics covered under PEF include new influenza pandemic virus A, B and C, MERS, SARS, Ebola, Crimean Congo, Marburg, Rift Valley, Lassa fever, etc. 
The insurance window under it will combine the funding from the reinsurance markets with the proceeds of catastrophe or Cat bonds (World Bank issued pandemic bonds) as well as a complementary cash window. It will be for the first time World Bank Cat Bonds will be used to combat infectious diseases.

NGT bans light and heavy diesel vehicles over 10 years in six major cities of Kerala

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Circuit Bench of Kochi has banned light and heavy diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old in six major cities of Kerala.
 These six major cities are: 
Thiruvananthapuram (state capital), Kochi (commercial capital), Kollam, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur.
 Order in this regard was given by the NGT Circuit Bench comprising NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar and expert member Bikram Singh Sajwan.
 The bench issued the order while hearing a petition filed by Lawyers’ Environmental Awareness Forum (LEAF) which had sought action against highly polluting diesel vehicles such as trucks and buses. Besides, NGT also directed State government not to register any diesel vehicle in the capacity of 2000 CC and more, except public transport and local authority vehicles. 
If any vehicle is found to be violating this direction, it shall pay 5000 rupees as environmental compensation. The compensation will be collected by pollution control board (PCB) or traffic police and they shall maintain separate account. These funds should be utilized for betterment of environment in these cities.

Chemical additive Potassium bromate is carcinogenic: CSE Study

As per recent study conducted by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), chemical additive Potassium bromate (KbrO3) widely prevalent in bread and refined flour is carcinogenic. The test was conducted by CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory. It has found that 84% of the samples were found to be laced with carcinogenic and thyroid triggering chemicals, such as Potassium Bromate and Potassium Iodate. These chemicals content were found to be on the higher then permissible limit in the sandwich breads followed by white bread, pavs, pizza bread and burger buns. Following this, national food regulator FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives.

How and Why Potassium bromate is used?
 Potassium bromate used as chemical additive in food items in the form of white crystals or powder. It is added to aid baking process as it strengthens the bread dough in order to raise it higher. 

The KbrO3 powder bleaches the bread dough and increases its elasticity by making tiny bubbles that help the bread rise. 
In India, the legal permissible limit to add Potassium bromate as chemical additive in food is 50 parts per million (ppm). Its High dosages are harmful.

Union HRD Ministry to launch ASMITA, student tracking system

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD)  has decided to launch ASMITA, a student tracking system programme. ASMITA is acronym for All School Monitoring Individual Tracing Analysis and shall be launched under Shala Asmita Yojana (SAY). 

Key facts :
SAY aims to track the educational journey of school students from Class I to Class XII across the 15 lakhs private and government schools in the country.
 ASMITA will be an online database which will carry information of student attendance and enrolment, learning outcomes, mid-day meal service and infrastructural facilities among others. Students will be tracked through their Aadhaar numbers and incase those not having unique number will be provided with it.

FreeCharge names Govind Rajan as CEO

  •  Snapdeal-owned digital payments platform FreeCharge on Tuesday appointed Govind Rajan as the Chief Executive Officer and elevated Co-Founder and former CEO Kunal Shah as the company's Chairman.

  • Rajan joined FreeCharge in 2015 and was the Chief Operating Officer at the company. An alumnus of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Rajan has previously worked with Bharti Airtel and Hindustan Unilever.

United Nations World Humanitarian Summit concluded in – Istanbul

on 24 May 2016 The United Nations World Humanitarian Summit concluded in Istanbul, Turkey. By the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) the summit was organised.

On 23 May 2016, more than 50 heads of state and government attended the summit. However, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced his disappointment at the absence of world leaders from G7 countries.

If we talk about the World Humanitarian Summit’s main achievement then it was the Grand Bargain, which is the name for a set of 51 commitments to reform humanitarian financing and aims to make emergency aid finance more efficient and effective.

Know About World Humanitarian Summit
• On May 23 and 24, 2016 The United Nations World Humanitarian Summit, which is also known as WHS, was held in Istanbul, Turkey.
• This Summit is an initiative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and is being organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).
India, World Bank ink US$ 100 million loan agreement for which state Urban Water Supply Modernization – Karnataka
Among Important National Current Affairs, India and World Bank have signed the Loan and Project Agreements for World Bank (IBRD) assistance of US 100 million dollars for Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization project.