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- Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to implement National Policy on Biofuels unveiled by Union Government in May 2018. Its implementation was approved by high-power Biofuel Authority. The state Government also decided to release the Biofuel Rules, 2018. Under this policy, State Government will lay emphasis on increasing production of oilseeds and establish Centre for Excellence in Udaipur to promote research in fields of alternative fuels and energy resources. The policy categorises of biofuels into first generation (1G), second generation (2G) and third generation (3G) to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
- Union Government has imposed safeguard duty of 25% on import of solar cells (whether or not assembled in modules or panels) from China and Malaysia after considering application by Indian solar cell manufacturers. The move is aimed at helping domestic solar cell manufacturing sector. But it could affect existing projects dependent on cheap imports and hike solar power tariffs in India since around 90% of panels sector uses solar cells made in China and Malaysia. Safeguard Duty is tariff barrier imposed by government on the commodities to ensure that imports in excessive quantities do not harm the domestic industry.
- Lok Sabha has passed Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to bring relief to the home buyers and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The Bill replaces ordinance promulgated in this regard and amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016to clarify that allottees under a real estate project should be treated as financial creditors. Earlier in June 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind approved the ordinance to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), heaving a sigh of relief to homebuyers who have invested in housing projects of real estate companies that have gone bankrupt.
- National Health Accounts (NHA) has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Common Service Center (CSC) to implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme through 3 lakh Common Service Centers (CSCs) across the country. Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) aims to cover over 10 crore poor vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage of up to Rs. 5 lakh (per family per year) for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. Beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat can visit nearby CSCs across India to get the benefit of this scheme. CSC is an initiative of Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY). There are as many as 2.91 lakh CSCs operate in the country today.
- Scientists from National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) have successfully identified molecular and cellular mechanisms by which Zika virus causes microcephaly. Babies born with microcephaly have significantly smaller head size compared with normal babies. The study shows that neutralising E protein of Zika virus can help prevent or reduce its harmful effects in developing foetus. Zika virus is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which also transmits dengue.
- NASA’s new planet hunting Spacecraft Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has become operational and has started collecting data after its successful launch in April 2018. Now, the TESS spacecraft will firstly scan patch of sky in southern hemisphere covering 2,300 degrees from south ecliptic pole to near ecliptic plane. Basically, it’s looking for potential exoplanets in a strip of the sky running from the far south to near the equator. TESS mission is led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. Data collected by it will help to study mass, size, density and orbit of large cohort of small planets, including sample of rocky worlds in habitable zones (goldilocks zone) of their host stars.
- China successfully launched Gaofen-11, an optical remote sensing satellite, as part of the country’s high-resolution Earth observation project. It was launched on board of Long March 4B rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in northern Shanxi Province. It was overall 282nd flight mission by Long March carrier rocket. Gaofen-11 is sub-meter resolution optical satellite. It was developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). It is the sixth in Gaofen series launched this year, following triplet of Gaofen-1 satellites and larger Gaofen-5 and Gaofen-6, all placed in Sun-synchronous orbits.
- Facing pressure from Dalit leaders, the Centre has decided to introduce a Bill to restore the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which the Supreme Court had struck down in a March ruling. The government would try to introduce it in Parliament during the ongoing session. The Amendment Bill seeks to insert three new clauses after Section 18 of the original Act.
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