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President of India attends Gurbani Gayan at Rashtrapati Bhavan

 

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, attended Gurbani Gayan, organized by Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan to mark the concluding event of year-long celebrations of          550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

  • Guru Nanak was born in Talwandibut he travelled for years before he founded the Dera Baba Nanak in Kartarpur.
  • Irrespective of their creed or caste, his followers ate together in a common kitchen known as langar. And the sacred place/temple he created for worship and meditation was called dharmasal (now known as Gurudwara).
  • Before he died in 1539, he appointed a follower called Lena (known later as Guru Angad) as his successor.
  • Guru Angad compiled the work of Guru Nanak and added to it his own script known as Gurmukhi.
  • The next three Gurus also wrote under Nanak’s name, and their work was compiled by Guru Arjan in 1604.
  • Works of Shaikh Farid, Sant Kabir, Bhagat Namdev, and Guru Tegh Bahadur were also added to these compilations.
  • Finally, in 1706, Guru Gobind Singh authenticated the compilation and created the Guru Granth Sahib.
  • Guru Nanak’s followers increased in the sixteenth century as people from all castes and occupations joined the community.
  • By the seventeenth century, the town of Ramdaspur developed around a Gurudwara called the Harmandar Sahib and became a self-governing society.

         

       Guru Nanak’s Teachings

  • Guru Nanak emphasised the worship of one God and insisted that caste, creed, and gender were irrelevant to attaining salvation.
  • According to him, pursuit of an active life would liberate humans, and he also used the terms nam, dan, andisnanto mean right worship, welfare, and purity of conduct.
  • His ideas today are called nam-japna, kirt-karna, and vand-chhakna, which mean right belief and worship, honest living, and helping others.
  • Thus, Guru Nanak’s idea of equality had social and political implications.

 

Union Cabinet Secretary reviews the Air Pollution Situation

 

  • Recently, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority- EPCA declared a public health emergency in New Delhi as pollution levels entered the ‘severe plus’ category.
  • An Air Quality Index (AQI)above 500 falls in ‘severe plus’ category. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall AQI score of New Delhi crossed 500 mark.
  • Deterioration in air quality is due to a combination of several factors:
    • Local pollution produced by vehicular and industrial pollution. It got further spiked by bursting of crackers on Deepavali.
    • Stubble burning in states of Punjab and Haryana: CPCB held that stubble burning contribution to pollution has gone up to 45%, resulting in the high particulate matter concentration.
    • Extremely adverse weather conditions: Northwesterly winds brought high quantities of smoke from Punjab and Haryana to Delhi-NCR.
  • Symptoms associated with this pollution are irritation in the eyes and throat, dry skin, skin allergies, chronic cough and breathlessness.
  • Government has taken a series of incremental steps as the quality of the air deteriorates. For Example:
    • Odd-even scheme: Under the scheme, vehicles with odd last digit in the registration number will ply on odd days and those with even last digit on even days
  • Imposition of Environment Compensation Charge (ECC)at toll plazas. Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) is a Supreme Court directed green tax. Green Taxes are one of a variety of policy measures formulated by the government to control activities that affect the environment. It is a type of ‘cess’ which has no legislative backup that usually accompanies the imposition of tax on public activities.
  • Distribution of N95 mask: A disposable N95 mask is a safety device that covers the nose and mouth and helps protect the wearer from breathing in hazardous pollutants like PM 2.5.
  • Under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) schools are shut down till the air quality remains severe
    • GRAP is an emergency action plan in Delhi to tackle rising air pollution.
    • It was prepared by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) after the order of Supreme Court of December 2016.

 

India exploring trade agreements with USA & E U; FTAs with Japan, Korea & ASEAN being reviewed;No trade agreements in a hurry says Piyush Goyal

 

  •  What is the RCEP?

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a free trade agreement originally devised to consist of 16 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. The pact looks to drop tariffs and duties between the members so that goods and services can flow freely between them.

At the RCEP’s administrative core is ASEAN: an intergovernmental grouping of 10 Southeast Asian countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It was proposed that the ASEAN bloc will be joined with six dialogue partners: China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

  • Why farmers were opposed to this?

rade tariffs: Farmers fear that the RCEP will permanently bring down import duties on most agricultural commodities to zero which will lead to countries looking to dump their agricultural produce in India which would lead to a drastic drop in prices.

This will aggravate the agrarian crisis even as the input prices in India are heavily taxed and farmers are not given profitable prices, resulting in substantial losses and farmer debts.

The dairy sector and plantations sector are going to be hit very hard. It is because New Zealand and Australia being part of RCEP will invariably lead to the dumping of their dairy products into India.

The southeast Asian countries have larger and cheaper production of plantation crops like rubber, coconut, palm oil as compared to India and opening up of the markets will lead to a large inflow of these products given their price competitiveness.

The IPR clauses are likely to seriously impinge on farmers’ seed freedoms. Seed companies will get more powers to protect their Intellectual Property Rights, and farmers would be criminalized when they save and exchange seeds.

India’s food sovereignty would be at stake. Opening up of the markets will lead to dependence on foreign imports. Any differences in the future might impact the food import supply.

  • Why Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) called for signing of RCEP?

Trade within RCEP nations would increase. And India can leverage advantage in areas such as ICT, IT- enabled services, healthcare and education services.

It also provides an opportunity for India to tap large and vibrant economies and increase its exports. As the RCEP progresses and favourable tariffs and Rules of Origin (ROOs) kick in, India could become a major hub for coordinating regional value chains through itself.

India could serve not only as a major market for final markets but also as a base for third-country exports, primarily to West Asia, Africa and Europe.

  • Why India didn’t sign?
  1. Domestic industry and dairy farmers had strong reservations about the trade pact.
  2. India’s trade deficit with the RCEP nations is $105 billion, of which China alone accounts for $54 billion.
  3. The worry is also over Chinese manufactured goods and dairy products from New Zealand flooding Indian markets, hurting domestic interests.
  4. The trade agreement was also seen as being detrimental to the government’s Make in India initiative.
    India was looking for specific rules of origin to ensure the trade pact wasn’t abused by non-partner countries and an auto-trigger mechanism to protect it from a surge in imports.
    Ecommerce and trade remedies were among other key areas of concern that failed to find satisfactory redressal.
  5. India was also worried about keeping 2014 as the base year for tariff reductions.

 

 Indian Railways has celebrated Vigilance Awareness Week 2019 with the theme “Integrity-a way of life”

 

  • Indian Railways has observed Vigilance Awareness Week- 2019 with the theme “Integrity- A way of life (ईमानदारी-एक जीवन शैली)” from 28thOctober, 2019 to 02nd November 2019 all over Indian Railways with mass participation at all levels. Integrity pledge was taken on 28th October, 2019 by the officials of Ministry of Railways, Zonal Railways, Divisions, PUs & PSUs to commence the Vigilance Awareness Week.
  • Internal and outreach activities were organised in a number of schools and colleges in an effort to sensitize the youth. A unique method was adopted of circulating Integrity Pledge on a mass scale to railway employees, rail users and public at large through text messages and railway portal