Daily Current Affairs : 30th May

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Currency Monitoring List
  2. TN Manoharan committee
  3. Fastags
  4. National Clean Air Programme
  5. Ratio of Health Workers

1 . Currency Monitoring List

What to Study

  • Mains : India – US Bilateral Relationship, Effects of GSP Withdrawal
  • Prelims : Criteria for inclusion in monitoring list

Context : The U.S. on Tuesday removed India from its currency monitoring list of major trading partners, citing steps being taken by New Delhi that addressed some of the Donald Trump administration’s major concerns.


  • India for the first time was placed by the US in its currency monitoring list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies in May 2018 along with five other countries – China, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland.

About the Currency Monitoring List

  • The following countries are added to the Monitoring List
    • Countries with a current-account surplus equivalent to 2 per cent of gross-domestic product are eligible for the list, according to modifications made in the new list, down from 3 per cent earlier.
    • Other thresholds include repeated intervention in the currency markets and a trade surplus with the US of at least $20 billion
  • Designation of a country as a currency manipulator does not immediately attract any penalties, it tends to dent the confidence about a country in the global financial markets.

Countries in the list

  • India, alongside China, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and South Korea, was placed in the bi-annual currency watch list in October last year.
  • While India and Switzerland have not been mentioned in the latest list, the US has added Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to the list, with China continuing to figure in it.
  • India did not qualify for inclusion in the currency manipulator list on at least two of three criteria


  • It is certainly a welcome step that the US has now removed India from that list. This will hopefully set the tone for discussion on resolution of some of the trade related differences with the US, particularly in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) issue. 

2 . T N Manoharan Committee

Context : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday constituted a task force to suggest policy and regulatory interventions required for development of secondary market in corporate loans, including loan transaction platform for stressed assets.

About the committee

  • The six-member body, headed by Canara Bank chairman T. N. Manoharan, has been set up to review the existing state of the market for loan sale/transfer in India as well as international experience in loan trading
  • The terms of the committee would be to suggest required policies for facilitating development of secondary market in corporate loans, including loan transaction platform for stressed assets, creation of a loan contract registry, its ownership structure and related protocols such as standardization of loan information, independent validation and data access.

Importance of the committee

  • In India, banks sell their stressed loans to the asset reconstruction companies, but has practically no other alternatives.
  • Globally, there is a healthy corporate loan market where banks can offload their stressed assets and those get traded.
  • Credit Default Swaps (CDS) against these loans also get developed as a result.
  • A vibrant, deep and liquid secondary market for debt would go a long way in increasing the efficiencies of the debt market in general and would aid in resolution of stressed assets in particular. A well-developed secondary market for debt would also aid in transparent price discovery of the inherent riskiness of the debt being traded

3 . Fastags

Context : FASTags are now available on e-commerce platform Amazon. These were earlier launched by IHMCL, a company promoted by NHAI, in January 2019. NHAI FASTag is a ‘bank-neutral’ FASTag i.e. no bank is pre-assigned to the FASTag at the time of purchase by customer from a Point-of-Sale or Online and offers the flexibility to customer to link the FASTag with their existing bank account by using My FASTag Mobile app, currently available on Google Play Store.

What is FASTag

  • FASTag is a simple to use, reloadable tag which enables automatic deduction of toll charges and lets you pass through the toll plaza without stopping for the cash transaction.
  • FASTag is linked to a prepaid account from which the applicable toll amount is deducted. The tag employs Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) technology and is affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen after the tag account is active.
  • FASTag is a perfect solution for a hassle free trip on national highways. FASTag is presently operational at 407 toll plazas across national and state highways. More toll plazas will be brought under the FASTag program in the future.

About Online Fastags

  • The online NHAI FASTag has been conceived in a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) concept wherein a customer can self-activate it by entering customer and vehicle details in My FASTag mobile app. Thereafter, the customer will have to link the tag to an existing bank account of his/her choice.
  • Currently, the bank linking facility is available for 7 member banks viz. SBI, ICICI Bank, Axis bank, HDFC bank, IndusInd Bank, Paytm Payments bank and Equitas Small Finance Bank.
  • The online NHAI FASTag shall be available for VC-4 i.e. Car/Jeep/Van only for now.
  • Currently FASTags are also being issued by 22 certified banks through various channels such as Point-of-Sale at NH toll plazas, selected bank branches, etc.
  • However, these FASTags issued by these certified banks does not offer option to customer for linking with existing bank account of his/her choice.
  • The online availability of NHAI FASTag by IHMCL will eventually help enhanced adoption of FASTag program by increasing user convenience and offering seamless digital payments of toll and thereby saving time, money and fuel.
  • Further, the digital payments of toll shall enhance transparency and promote cashless transactions, converting India into less-cash society supporting the Digital India Programme.

4 . National Clean Air Programme

Context : Eighty-four out of the 102 cities that have been tasked with reducing toxic particulate matter levels by 20%-30% by 2024 have submitted proposals, C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Union Environment Ministry, said at a press conference.

About NCAP

  • Objective of the NCAP is comprehensive mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution besides augmenting the air quality monitoring network across the country and strengthening the awareness and capacity building activities.
  • The tentative national level target of 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 2024 is proposed under the NCAP taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
  • NCAP will be a mid-term, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
  • The approach for NCAP includes collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between the relevant central ministries, state governments and local bodies. Dovetailing of the existing policies and programmes including the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and other initiatives of Government of India in reference to climate change will be done while execution of NCAP.
  • City specific action plans are being formulated for 102 non-attainment cities identified for implementing mitigation actions under NCAP. Cities have already prepared action plans in consultation with CPCB.
  • Institutional Framework at Centre and State Level comprising of Apex Committee at the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change in the Centre and at Chief Secretary Level in the States are to be constituted.
  • Other features of NCAP include, increasing number of monitoring stations in the country including rural monitoring stations, technology support, emphasis on awareness and capacity building initiatives, setting up of certification agencies for monitoring equipment, source apportionment studies, emphasis on enforcement, specific sectoral interventions etc.

5 . Ratio of Health Workers

Context : India has 20.6 health workers per 10,000 people, a study based on data from the National Sample Survey reveals. While it is less than the World Health Organisation’s minimum threshold of 22.8, the numbers have increased from 19 health workers per 10,000 people in 2012.

About the News

  • Distribution of health workers is uneven between urban and rural areas.
    • Rural areas with nearly 71% of India’s population have only 36% of the country’s health workers.
  • The data also showed that approximately 25% of currently working health professionals do not have the required qualifications as laid down by professional councils,
  • Anyhow the numbers have increased since 2012 hence we are moving in the right direction and the size of the health workforce is steadily improving


  • The public sector can collaborate with the private sector to overcome the shortages in human resources for health. However, this will not influence the overall size of the health workforce in the country.
  • Policies should focus on enhancing the quality of health workers and bringing professionally qualified persons into the health workforce.

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