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Global Urban Air Pollution Database



  • G. S. Paper

Why in news?

  • According to Global Urban Air Pollution database released by World Health Organisation (WHO), 14 Indian cities have figured in list of world’s 15 most polluted cities.

Global urban air pollution database:

  • The WHO global air pollution database was released in Geneva this May.
  • According to the data, India has 14 out of the 15 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM 2.5 concentrations.
  • The worst amongst Indian city is Kanpur.
  • These 14 cities include:
    • Delhi
    • Varanasi
    • Kanpur
    • Faridabad
    • Gaya
    • Patna
    • Agra
    • Muzaffarpur
    • Srinagar
    • Gurgaon
    • Jaipur
    • Patiala
    • Jodhpur
  • They are followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem (Kuwait) and few cities in China and Mongolia.
  • In terms of PM10 levels, 13 cities in India figured among the 20 most-polluted cities.

Pollution levels in Delhi:

  • WHO’s database of more than 4,000 cities in 100 countries shows that Delhi’s pollution levels improved only marginally between 2010 and 2014 but started deteriorating again in 2015.
  • In 2016, the latest year in WHO’s database, Delhi was in sixth spot, having recorded its highest pollution levels in six years.
  • The city’s PM 2.5 annual average was 143 micrograms per cubic metre, more than three times the national safe standard.
  • Also, the PM 10 average was 292 micrograms per cubic metre, more than 4.5 times the national standard.

Problems caused due to high pollution levels:

  • WHO said that 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.
  • Updated estimations reveal an alarming death toll of 7 million people every year caused by ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.
  • Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths.
  • WHO also highlighted that air pollution is mainly responsible for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
  • It is causing an estimated one-quarter (24%) of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25% from stroke, 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 29% from lung cancer.

Ordinance On Rape



  • G.S. Paper 2

Why in news?

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given approval to the promulgation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 for effective deterrence against the commission of rape.

Ordinance on rape:

  • The Government has decided to put in place a number of measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases.
  • Here are the changes made to the present rape law in place under the criminal law including the IPC, Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc), Evidence Act and POCSO:
    • More severe punishment:
      • Minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
      • In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which shall mean imprisonment till that person’s natural life.
      • The punishment for gang rape of a girl under 16 years of age will invariably be imprisonment for rest of life of the convict.
      • Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided – minimum 20 years’ imprisonment or imprisonment for rest of life or with death.
      • In case of gang rape of a girl below 12 years, punishment will be imprisonment for rest of life or death sentence.
    • Speedy investigation and trial:
      • Time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within 2 months.
      • Time limit for completion of trial of all rape cases has also been prescribed and it has to be necessarily completed in 2 months.
      • 6 months’ time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.
    • Restrictions on bail
      • It has been prescribed that there will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.
      • It has also been provided that court has to give notice of 15 days to Public Prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

Miscellanies measures adopted by the Government:

  • In order to give effect to the legal provisions and to improve the capacity of criminal justice system to deal with rape cases, Cabinet has approved a number of important measures:
    • Strengthening the courts and prosecution:
      • New Fast Track Courts will be set up in consultation with States/UTs and High Courts.
      • Creation of new posts of public prosecutors and related infrastructure in consultation with States/UTs.
      • Special forensic kits for rape cases to all Police Stations and hospitals.
      • Dedicated manpower will be provided for investigation of rape cases in a time bound manner.
      • Setting up special forensic labs in each State/UT exclusively for rape cases.
      • These measures will form part of a new mission mode project to be launched within 3 months.
    • National Database:
      • National Crime Records Bureau will maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders.
      • This data will be regularly shared with States/UTs for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents by police.
    • Assistance to victims:
      • The present scheme of One Stop Centres for assistance to victim to be extended to all districts in the country.
    • Last year, Madhya Pradesh Assembly unanimously passed a legislation to amend Section 376A (Punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim) and 376D (Gang rape) under the Indian Penal Code.
    • Treading on the heels of MP, Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh and Harayana followed suit and passed the legislation as well.

Credit Ratings



  • G.S.Paper 2

Why in news?

  • Refusing to upgrade India’s credit ratingfor the 12th year in a row, Fitch today retained its sovereign rating at ‘BBB-‘, the lowest investment grade with a stable outlook.

Credit Ratings:

  • Also called debt rating, this is a method of measuring the creditworthiness of a debt issuer.
  • The ratings provided by the main credit rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch, evaluate issuers worldwide and are very closely followed.
  • A top rating means there is almost no likelihood of the borrower failing to meet interest payments or full redemption of the issue.
  • Credit ratings are opinions expressed on an alphanumeric scale on the relative ability and willingness of a debt issuer to meet financial commitments.
  • Credit ratings published by the main global rating agencies aim to provide ratings that are objective and transparent, as well as consistent and comparable across instruments, maturities, industries and countries.
  • Some sectors, maturities and countries have their own specific rating scales.
  • The long-term global rating scale at S&P and Fitch contain nine grades and goes from the highest grade to the lowest grade (in increasing order of riskiness): AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, B, CCC, CC, C.
  • For Moody’s, the scale contains nine grades and goes from the highest grade to the lowest grade (in increasing order of riskiness): Aaa, Aa, A, Baa, Ba, B, Caa, Ca, C.
  • All three global credit rating agencies, for each full grade other than AAA (or Aaa), CC (or Ca), or C, include a positive, neutral or negative modifier for Fitch and S&P or a numerical modifier for Moody’s.
  • This brings the nine point rating scale to a 21 point scale. For instance, for the AA grade there are AA+, AA, AA- or Aa1, Aa2, Aa3.
  • Government credit ratings take into account three main elements which are:
    • Public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product
    • the budget deficit (the amount government spending exceeds income)
    • debt affordability (interest costs as a percentage of revenue)

India’s latest rating by Fitch:

  • Fitch, in 2018, has retained its sovereign rating at ‘BBB-‘, the lowest investment grade with a stable outlook, saying that weak fiscal balances continue to constrain its ratings.
  • The government had made a strong pitch to Fitch Ratings for an upgrade after rival Moody’s Investors Service last November gave the country its first sovereign rating upgrade since 2004.
  • Fitch had last upgraded India’s sovereign rating from BB+ to BBB- with a stable outlook on August 1, 2006.
  • Fitch Ratings has affirmed India’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB-‘ with a stable outlook.
  • India’s rating balances a strong medium-term growth outlook and favourable external balances with weak fiscal finances and some lagging structural factors, including governance standards and a still-difficult, but improving, business environment.
  • Weak fiscal balances, the Achilles’ heel in India’s credit profile, continue to constrain its ratings.
  • India has the highest medium-term growth potential among the largest emerging markets, according to a recent Fitch

Seva Bhoj Yojana



  • G.S Paper 2

Why in news?

  • The Indian Government has introduced a new scheme called ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’.

Seva Bhoj Yojana:

  • The Ministry of Culture has introduced a new scheme namely ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’.
  • The scheme envisages to reimburse the Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) to lessen the financial burden of such Charitable Religious Institutions who provide Food/Prasad/Langar (Community Kitchen)/Bhandara free of cost without any discrimination to Public/Devotees.
  • The eligibility criteria is as follows:
    • The Charitable Religious Institutions such as Temples, Gurudwara, Mosque, Church, Dharmik Ashram, Dargah, Matth, Monasteries etc. which have been in existence for at least five years before applying for financial assistance/grant.
    • Who serve free food to at least 5000 people in a month
    • Such institutions covered under the Income Tax Act or registered as Society under Societies Registration Act or as a Public Trust under any law for the time being shall be eligible for grant under the scheme.
  • Ministry of Culture will register the eligible charitable religious institutions for a time period ending with finance commission period.
  • And subsequently the registration may be renewed by the Ministry subject to the performance evaluation of the institutions.

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