Important Current Affairs for CLAT-13th September 2022

Railroads to launch new version of the Vande Bharat 2 high-speed train

New version of the Vande Bharat 2: The Indian Railways will launch the new Vande Bharat Express, a high-speed train in its ongoing effort to provide passengers with the best amenities. According to the Ministry of Railways, Vande Bharat 2 According to the ministry, Vande Bharat 2 will have further improvements and developments, including a faster 0 to 100 Kmph time of just 52 seconds, a top speed of 180 Kmph, a lighter weight of 392 tonnes, and WI-FI content that is available when needed.

New version of the Vande Bharat 2: Key Points

  • Additionally, the new Vande Bharat will sport 32-inch LCD TVs, up from the previous model’s 24 inch size.

  • Travel will be more comfortable thanks to 15% more energy-efficient air conditioners and traction motor cooling by clean, dust-free air.

  • According to the Ministry of Railways, a photo-catalytic ultra violet air purification technology is installed in the roof-mounted Roof Mounted Package Unit (RMPU) for air purification in the new Vande Bharat Express.

  • All passenger classes will now have access to the side recliner seat feature that is currently only offered to Executive Class guests.

  • This system is built and placed in both ends of the RMPU per the advice of Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO), Chandigarh, to filter and clean the air free from pathogens, bacteria, viruses, etc. coming through fresh air and return air.

  • On February 15, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi debuted the first Vande Bharat Express.

  • A few months prior, ICF had introduced coaches produced in India. These trains have a self-propelled engine that can conserve diesel and consume 30% less power.

About Vande Bharat Express:

As of March 2022, the Indian Railways will only operate the Vande Bharat Express, also known as Train 18, on two notable routes: one from New Delhi (NDLS) to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra (SVDK) and the other from New Delhi (NDLS) to Varanasi (BSB). It took 18 months for Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Perambur, Chennai, as part of the Indian government’s Make in India project, to develop and produce it. Although it is anticipated that the price per unit will decrease with more output, the cost of the first rake was projected to be 100 crore (US$13 million). It is anticipated to be 40% less expensive at the outset than a comparable train bought from Europe.

RBI Sells $13 billion in August to Hold Rupee at 80

India’s foreign exchange reserves slumped by over $2 billion in the week ending August 12, as the Reserve Bank of India intervened to shore up the rupee and keep the currency below 80 per dollar. That is an effort the Indian central bank has said was essential, and it would do whatever it takes to maintain the rupee’s stability, limiting any wild swings despite extremely volatile currency markets. The RBI’s weekly statistical supplement data showed that the country’s forex reserves slumped to $570.74 billion in the week ending August 12, down by $2.238 billion from $572.978 billion in the previous week. The magnitude of that fall in the latest week was the largest in a month, and the country’s import cover dipped for the second week.

Major Causes:

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, India’s forex reserves have fallen for 19 weeks out of a total of 25 since then, having nearly $61 billion during that period. Still, India’s forex reserves are the fourth largest globally, said RBI governor Shaktikanta Das after the latest rate-setting meeting when the central bank hiked rates for the third consecutive time. The rupee has tumbled to just under 80 per dollar from about 74 it was trading before the Ukraine crisis, in line with a broader capital exodus into dollar-denominated assets. The world’s reserve currency, the dollar, has reigned supreme across the board, gaining significantly against almost all major currencies. While the rupee briefly hit its all-time weak level of 80 against the dollar, the RBI has helped keep the Indian currency below that level by selling dollars in the spot and futures markets. But the drawdown of forex reserves during periods of currency market volatilities has reduced over time due to RBI’s interventions, a paper by central bank executives has said.

The Coarse Correction:

Expectations of volatility have also reduced during the time period of the study, which starts from 2007 and includes the current episode of volatilities triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war. The RBI has a stated policy of intervening in the forex markets if it sees volatilities, but the central bank never lets out a targeted level. In the current episode, it has successfully defended the rupee depreciating above the 80-per-dollar-mark. The study by Saurabh Nath, Vikram Rajput and Gopalakrishnan S from the RBI’s financial markets operations department, which does not represent the central bank’s views, said the reserves depleted by 22 per cent during the 2008-09 global financial crisis as compared to only 6 per cent in the current episode following Russian invasion on Ukraine.

Comparison With Financial Crisis:

On an absolute basis, the 2008-09 global financial crisis led to a drawdown of $70 billion in the reserves, which came down to $17 billion during the COVID-19 period and stood at $56 billion as of July 29 this year due to the Ukraine invasion-related impact. What has probably limited the damage to the rupee and the country’s import cover is the return of foreign investors to Indian capital markets since last month. Indeed, after being net sellers of Indian assets for several months, foreign investors turned net buyers of domestic stocks and bonds in July, with that trend still in play this month.

The fall in international crude oil prices to below $100 a barrel has also boosted investors’ sentiment. Oil prices fell 1.5 per cent for the week on a stronger US dollar and fears that an economic slowdown would weaken crude demand. Strength in the US dollar hit a five-week high, which also capped crude gains as it makes oil more expensive for buyers in other currencies.


Per Capita Government Spending on Healthcare Increases by 74% Since 2013-14

The per capita government spending on healthcare has increased by 74 per cent since 2013-14. As per National Health Accounts Estimates India 2018-19, the per capita government spending in 2013-14 was one thousand forty-two rupees, which has increased to one thousand eight hundred and fifteen rupees. It said, government’s share in the overall spending on health in the country is increasing steadily. The government’s share in current health expenditure has increased from 23.2 per cent in 2013-14 to 34.5 per cent in 2018-19.

The Increase So For:

The government spending on primary healthcare has increased since 2013-14. The government health expenditure during that period on primary healthcare was around 51 per cent, which has increased to over 55 per cent in 2018-19. The per capita Out-of-pocket expenditure in the country has also decreased by eight per cent since 2013-14.

What The NITI Aayog Said:

“It is truly a moment of pride that we have in our nation a systematic, robust, reliable transparent accounts and accounting of spending on health. Such reports will help us with clear decision-making processes in line with National Health Policy recommendation of 2017.” Dr. V K Paul stated this while congratulating everyone on NHA Estimates report launch which is sixth consecutive since 2013-14. He said that National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC) has ensured that all such reports are published without any interruption and follows academic rigor along with robust methodology and approach. Since, these reports are used by researchers, policy makers and program implementors, therefore, their robustness is critical.

Dr. Paul noted that the guiding principle of government from last few years has been to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) on health by citizens, which pushes individuals and families into poverty. As per National Health Account Estimates 2018-19, OOPE has substantially declined by almost 16% points as a percentage of current health expenditure from 2014 to 2018-19. Even in the case of per capita OOPE, there has been a decline. The report also provides a comparison of the per-capita OOPE of India with other countries, using Global Health Expenditure Database provided by WHO. In the group of 189 countries, India ranks 66th for per capita OOPE.

What The Govt Said:

Union Health Secretary Shri Rajesh Bhushan focused on the significant shift in the nature of government expenditure. The increased focus on primary health care reinforces government’s decision to prioritize primary healthcare in the country. The report captures that 55.2% of the government expenditure currently has been on primary health. This not only ensures quality services at the grassroot level but also reduces the chances of ailments requiring secondary or tertiary healthcare services, he pointed out.

Shri Rajesh Bhushan also focused on the social security expenditure on health as a percentage of the total health expenditure. The social security expenditure on health which includes the social health insurance program, government-financed health insurance schemes, and medical reimbursements made to government employees, has increased from 6% in 2013-14 to 9.6% in 2018-19. This is a significant increase which shows that the common people of India are better equipped and better provided in terms of healthcare at their doorstep and making health more accessible.

All India Institute of Ayurveda launches 6-Weeks programme on Ayurveda Day

All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), under the Ministry of Ayush, has launched the Ayurveda Day 2022 programme. AIIA has been chosen as the nodal agency for driving the Ministry of Ayush’s mandate for Ayurveda Day this year. Ayurveda Day curtain raiser for the six-week long programme (12th September-23rd October).

Key points:

  • The Ministry of AYUSH celebrates Ayurveda Day every year on Dhanvantari Jayanti and this year it will be celebrated on 23 October.

  • The theme for the celebration is ‘Har Din Har Ghar Ayurveda’.

  • This year the Ministry is celebrating it in collaboration with all the Ministries and departments of the Government of India so that every person of the nation is made aware of the traditional system of medicine.

About the programme:

  • The six-week programme is a noble endeavour to take forward the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji. The success of this programme will be possible only if we are able to reach every citizen of India, and therefore, over the coming weeks, we will focus all our energies to interact with and sensitise the people so that the message of Ayurveda can percolate down to all levels.

  • ‘Har Din Har Ghar Ayurveda’ stresses on creating awareness of ‘Ayurveda for Holistic Health’ in every household. This will help our nation become healthy and strong.”

  • The programme will see participation from various ministries of the Government of India with the aim of 3Js – Jan Sandesh, Jan Bhagidari, and Jan Aandolan.

American Express Banking Corp India named Sanjay Khanna as new CEO

American Express Banking Corp India has appointed Sanjay Khanna as its chief executive officer (CEO) and country manager. At present, Khanna heads the country executive team and is responsible for driving growth across the organisation’s consumer and commercial businesses. In his new role, Khanna will be leading several business development initiatives for American Express, while steering collaboration across its diverse businesses in India, adding his position will be key to strengthening the company’s strategic focus in the country.

Experience of Sanjay Khanna:

Khanna has spent about 27 years with American Express, joining as manager of finance in 1996. In his previous roles, he held many leadership positions in the company, including head of Global Financial Operations, India Center Lead for Finance and chairman of the American Express India Pvt Limited Legal Entity Board. He also led large-scale enterprise projects, and multiple business transformation initiatives and established a number of centres of excellence.

Important points:

On August 25, the Reserve Bank of India lifted the ban on new customer acquisitions by American Express which was imposed with effect from May 2021 due to non-compliance with local data storage norms. When the ban was imposed, American Express had 1.51 million credits, which fell to 1.36 million as of June end of this year.

Meghalaya CM launches ‘Residents Safety & Security’ portal

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma launched an online portal of the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) in the presence of Home Minister Lakhmen Rymbui and other eminent officials in Shillong. The online portal will provide a digital platform to ensure the safety and security of the residents and act as a strong intelligence gathering system for authorities.

Key Points

  • The online portal will be beneficial for monitoring and better implementation of services and programs introduced by the government.

  • The portal will assist in the health care sector and critical areas.

  • This digital platform has the capability of connecting more than 6000 villages in the state through the online system.

  • This web-based online portal is first being rolled out in seven localities of Shillong-Nongrim Hills, Lapanlang, Nongmynsong, Nongrah, Pohkseh, Riat Laban, and Wahdienglieng.

Agnikul Cosmos secured first patent for 3D-printed rocket engine

Agnikul Cosmos, one of India’s private space startups, has secured its first patent for the design and manufacturing of its 3D-printed rocket engine. The patent, which has been offered to the company under the Centre’s patent database, comes after the company opened doors to its first factory to 3D print rocket engines at scale. The patent has been rewarded to the company for its Agnilet rocket engine, which will power the company’s Agnibaan rocket that is scheduled to launch later this year.

About the Agnilet:

  • Agnilet, one such single-piece engine, is the world’s first single-piece 3D printed rocket engine fully designed and manufactured in India. It was successfully test-fired in early 2021.

  • Agnilet has been designed in such a manner to encapsulate all of these into just one piece of hardware and has zero assembled parts.

  • Agnikul showcased this engine at IAC 2021, Dubai, which is the most prestigious space tech gathering in the world.

  • Till date, Agnikul has raised Rs 105 crore ($15 million) from Mayfield India, pi Ventures, Speciale Invest, and a host of others, including prominent angel investors such as Anand Mahindra and Naval Ravikant since 2019.

Notably:

At present, India is estimated to hold a market share of around 2% in terms of commercial space operation, which, too, is due to the operations of India’s central space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Industry stakeholders have previously said that technologies like 3D printing can help space companies scale their products efficiently and reduce the chance of errors in a sensitive sector like space.

Agnikul:

Agnikul was founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM and SR Chakravarthy (professor of IIT-Madras). In December 2020, Agnikul signed an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) under the IN-SPACe initiative to have access to the space agency’s expertise and its facilities to build rocket engines.

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