August 2019

Daily Current Affairs (23-08-19)


Related Topics: Renewable Energy, Competitive Federalism


  • Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship has launched the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index–SARAL.
  • The State of Karnataka has been placed at the first rank in the Index that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development.
  • Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got 2nd, 3rd and 4th rank respectively.

The Need for the Index

  • MNRE has set a target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 100 GW solar power is to be operational by March 2022, of which 40 GW is expected to come from grid connected solar rooftops.
  • To achieve our rooftop solar targets, it is important to develop an ecosystem that ensures information symmetry, access to financing and clear market signals.
  • Thus, the MNRE has developed the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index–SARAL that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development.
  • SARAL is the first of its kind index to provide a comprehensive overview of state-level measures adopted to facilitate rooftop solar deployment.

Who designed SARAL?

It has been designed collaboratively by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Ernst & Young (EY).

Key Aspects captured by SARAL

  • Robustness of policy framework
  • Implementation environment
  • Investment climate
  • Consumer experience
  • Business ecosystem

Significance of Index

  • It encourages each state to assess the initiatives taken so far, and what it can do to improve its solar rooftop ecosystem.
  • This will help states to channelize investments that can eventually help the sector grow.
  • In addition, such an exercise is likely to create a more conducive environment for solar rooftop installations, encourage investment and lead to accelerated growth of the sector.

[Source: PIB]



Related Topics: Indices and Reports, International Relations

Why in News

Henley Passport Index 2019 has been published recently.

What is the Henley Passport Index?

  • It is prepared by Henley and Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm.
  • It is the ranking of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
  • Passport rankings point towards the strength of diplomatic relations between countries.
  • It covers 227 destinations and 199 passports.

Methodology Involved

  • The index gathers data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that manages inter-airline cooperation globally.
  • The Henley Passport Index is updated in real time according to countries’ visa policy changes.
  • Each passport is attributed with a score and a rank.
  • The score is the sum of the number of countries accessible by that passport holder without requiring pre-departure government approval for visa-types including a visitor’s permit, visa on arrival or an electronic travel authority (ETA).

Global Rankings

  • Japan and Singapore are ranked 1 and have a score of 189 in the 2019 index.
  • Afghanistan holds the weakest passport, with a score and ranking of 25 and 109, respectively.


Position of India

  • The 2019 Index ranks India at 86, down five places from 81 in 2018.
  • Just eight nations were added to its visa-free access list from 2010 to 2019 — lowest among BRICS nations.
  • India has a score of 58, which is the number of destinations an Indian passport holder can travel today, without pre-departure government approval.
  • India ranks below other BRICS countries, with which are at a similar stage in their economic development.

Other Passport Indices

  • Arton Passport Index ranks United Arab Emirates’s passport at rank 1 as per its most recent rankings.
  • As per this index, India has a mobility score (MS) of 67, with visa required for 131 destinations, visa on arrival required for 41 destinations and 26 destinations where Indian passport holders can travel visa free.
  • It is powered by Arton Capital, a global financial advisory.
[Source: Indian Express, The Hindu]



Related Topics: Government Schemes, Dispute Resolution


  • In the Union Budget 2019-20, Finance Minister has announced the Sabka Vishwas-Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2019.
  • The Scheme has now been notified and will be operationalized from 1st September 2019 and would continue till 31st December 2019.
  • Government expects the Scheme to be availed by large number of taxpayers for closing their pending disputes relating to legacy Service Tax and Central Excise cases that are now subsumed under GST so they can focus on GST.

About the Scheme

The Scheme is especially tailored to free the large number of small taxpayers of their pending disputes with the tax administration.


(i) Dispute Resolution

It is aimed at liquidating the legacy cases of Central Excise and Service Tax that are subsumed under GST and are pending in litigation at various forums.

(ii) Amnesty

It offers an opportunity to the taxpayers to pay the outstanding tax and be free of any other consequence under the law.

Key Highlights

  • The most attractive aspect of the Scheme is that it provides substantial relief in the tax dues for all categories of cases as well as full waiver of interest, fine and penalty.
  • In all these cases, there would be no other liability of interest, fine or penalty.
  • There is also a complete amnesty from prosecution.
  • For all the cases pending in adjudication or appeal – in any forum – this Scheme offers a relief of 70% from the duty demand if it is Rs.50 lakhs or less and 50% if it is more than Rs. 50 lakhs.
  • In case of voluntary disclosure, the person availing the Scheme will have to pay only the full amount of disclosed duty.

[Source: PIB]



Related Topics: Science & Technology, Gondwana


  • Scientists have described a new species of stegosaurus and dated it to 168 million years ago, which makes it the oldest known member of that group of dinosaurs ever known.
  • Remains of a stegosaur, a dinosaur made famous through the Jurassic Park films, were studied by a team from the Natural History Museum and belong to a new genus which walked the earth around 168 million years ago.

What is Stegosaurus?

Stegosaurs are armoured dinosaurs recognisable by spike-like bones protruding from their spine and tails.

First stegosaurus to be found in North Africa

  • Its remains were discovered in the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco.
  • Most stegosaurus remains so far have been found in the northern hemisphere.

Why the Name ‘Adratiklit boulahfa’?

The name is derived from the words used by the Berber (an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa) for mountains (Adras), lizard (tiklit) and the area where the specimen was found (Boulahfa).


The Adratiklit was armoured and herbivorous, and lived on the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which later split into Africa, South America, Australia and Antarctica.




Russia has launched an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend 10 days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station. Known as FEDOR (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research), the Skybot F-850 is the first humanoid robot to be sent to space by Russia.


Iran has unveiled its new domestically-built long-range, mobile surface-to-air missile system called Bavar-373. The system’s unveiling came on Iran’s National Defence Industry Day. Iran has developed a large domestic arms industry in the face of international sanctions and embargoes that have barred it from importing many weapons.


The Government of India has invited applications for ‘San-Sadhan’ Hackathon – for Divyangjan accessible toilets. It is an initiative to ease lives of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) by making toilets smarter, more accessible, and easier to use. The initiative is being organized jointly by the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, in collaboration with Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and 91springboard.


Ministry of New and renewable energy has clarified to all the stakeholders that energy produced using various forms of ocean energy such as tidal, wave, ocean thermal energy conversion etc. shall be considered as renewable energy and shall be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).



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