Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 01 FEBRUARY 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 01 FEBRUARY 2019


SBM to evaluate solid waste management in rural India

  •  The Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBMG) of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, held a National Workshop on Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM).The workshop was attended by District Collectors, CEOs, CDOs, Executive Engineers and other officers, from across the country.
  •  ShriParameswaranIyer, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, reiterated the SBMG's continued commitment to SLWM and shared an overview of the various ongoing initiatives of the Ministry.
  •  He said that the Mission is on track to deliver an Open Defecation Free (ODF) India well before the set deadline of October 2019 and is focusing increasingly on sustaining the ODF outcomes and ODF-plus activities including SLWM.
  •  The workshop emphasized the importance of Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) for rural census towns and large dense villages and Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resource–dhan (GOBAR-DHAN) in rural areas. It also covered Plastic Waste Management, Grey Water Management and featured case studies from across the country.
  •  The experts on FSM shared various technological and operational models, specific to different geographic terrains and climatic conditions. Innovative Solid Waste Management initiatives from across the country were shared by the States. This included transforming waste into construction bricks and fuel during the harsh winters in Leh district in Jammu and Kashmir.
  •  Kerala showcased the “Green Protocol” being implemented in Thiruvananthapuram district using the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) to minimize waste generation. Rajgarh district from Madhya Pradesh presented the experience of successfully implementing the GOBAR-DHAN project.

Centre hooked by opposition for non-publishing of NSSO report on unemployment

  •  The government’s think tank NITI Aayog on Thursday debunked claims of a news report that unemployment in 2017-18 was at a 45-year high. The NITI Aayog said the report of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), cited as the source for the report, was in fact a draft and not approved by the government.
  •  A report in the Business Standard on Thursday, which cited the NSSO’s periodic labour force survey that is yet to be released said the unemployment rate was 6.1% in 2017-18. The only year of comparable data when the unemployment rate was higher was in 1972-73. It was at 2.2% in 2011-12.
  •  The NSSO report is a matter of much controversy, with the two external members of the National Statistical Commission citing the delay in its release as a major reason for their resignations on Monday.
  •  The data reportedly showed that joblessness was higher in urban India (7.8%) than in rural India (5.3%). Within this, it stood at 17.4% for rural males and 13.6% for rural females. In urban India, joblessness was at 18.7% among males and a huge 27.2% among females.
  •  The government’s decision to discontinue the NSSO’s five year surveys, failure to regularly release Labour Bureau data and delay in releasing the NSSO’s periodic labour force survey had led to an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion.
  •  Instead, the government kept citing job numbers based on EPFO’s payroll data and the Mudra loans, which are not helpful,the report said.


RBI allows banks to exit PCA framework

  •  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to allow three public sector banks — Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra and Oriental Bank of Commerce to exit the PCA framework following capital infusion by the government and a decline in net non-performing asset ratio.
  •  The RBI, which conducted a review following a demand made by government to lift the restrictions in order to boost credit growth, said, “it was noted that a few banks are not in breach of the PCA (Prompt Corrective Action) parameters as per their published results for the quarter ending December 2018, except for return on assets (RoA).”
  •  Bank of India had made significant higher provisioning during the third quarter which saw net NPA ratio declining to 5.87% from 10.29% a year ago. Similarly, Bank of Maharashtra brought down its net NPA ratio to 5.91% from 12.17%. Both the banks reported heavy losses in the third quarter.
  •  OBC, which had made Rs. 145 crore net profit in the third quarter, reported net NPA ratio of 7.15% at the end of the October-December quarter.
  •  RBI justified its action by saying “though the net NPA ratio was 7.15%, as per the published results of third quarter, the government has since infused sufficient capital and bank has brought the net NPA ratio to less than 6%.
  •  Hence, it has been decided to remove the restrictions placed on Oriental Bank of Commerce under PCA framework subject to certain conditions and close monitoring,” the RBI said.

Health sector demands tax breaks from centre in interim budget

  •  The healthcare sector wants the government’s interim Budget to include tax measures to help the middle class better mitigate health risks.
  •  “Ayushman Bharat for the financially weaker section took centre stage in healthcare last year; however, the middle class is still at risk!,” said Suneeta Reddy, managing director, Apollo Hospitals Group.
  •  An enhancement in the medical allowance for salaried employees in line with inflation and a separate deduction in respect of preventive health checks would be desirable,’’ she said, speaking about the sector’s expectations from the Budget.
  •  “We look forward to zero-rating of GST for the sector, or for normalisation of the GST rates for services consumed by the healthcare service providers at 5%,’’ Ms. Reddy added.
  •  “We expect a reduction in the cost of medical equipment that will help in increasing the outreach of telemedicine and home healthcare facilities,” said AshutoshTiwari, director and chairman, VinobaBhave Research Institute.
  •  The last year had been a challenging one for India’s private healthcare providers, with multiple headwinds impacting growth and profitability. The overall sector had become less attractive for investments, the absence of which had hindered growth significantly, asserted ArindamHaldar, CEO, SRL Diagnostics.
  •  However, given that more than two-thirds of the sector was driven by private operators, the government had to increase its willingness to partner with the private sector players, according to Mr.Haldar.

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India asks Pakistan not to interfere in internal affairs

  •  India today asked Pakistan not to interfere in India’s internal affairs. Reacting to the telephonic conversation between Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah MehmoodQureshi and Separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, the behaviour of Pakistani Foreign Minister is condemnable.
  •  Mr Kumar said, it is high time for Pakistan to take action against terrorism, but unfortunately, the neighbouring country is doing nothing.
  •  Asked about recent developments in Afghanistan regarding the reconciliation process, the spokesperson said, India is following the developments closely.
  •  He said India wants peace and stability in that country. He said peace and reconciliation process in that country should be Afghan-controlled, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
  •  After summoning the Pakistan High Commissioner on Wednesday, India has registered its protest with the British government about an upcoming meet on Kashmir at the British Parliament, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
  •  India has raised the issue of “anti-India” groups within the U.K. often in the past few months. In August, the British government turned down an Indian request to cancel a pro-Khalistani rally in London.

U.S – China trade talks progresses smoothly

  •  President Donald Trump on Wednesday touted the chances of success as U.S.-China negotiations entered a second day, saying Beijing was eager to make a deal.
  •  In a morning series of tweets, he also said a final deal would leave “NOTHING” unresolved but such a bargain could only be struck after he met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping “in the near future”.
  •  The meetings are “going well,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “China does not want an increase in Tariffs and feels they will do much better if they make a deal. They are correct.”
  •  The two sides have just a month remaining in a 90-day truce declared in December. Should the talks fail, U.S. import duties on $200 billion in Chinese imports are due to more than double on March 2.
  •  But Washington’s aggressive prosecution of the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei which federal prosecutors accused this week of industrial espionage, sanctions violations and fraud threatened to upend the talks, angering Beijing.


NASA reports rapid decay of ice sheets in Antartic due to climate change

  •  NASA scientists have discovered a gigantic cavity, almost 300 metres tall, growing at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, indicating rapid decay of the ice sheet and acceleration in global sea levels due to climate change.
  •  Researchers expected to find some gaps between ice and bedrock at Thwaites’ bottom, where ocean water could flow in and melt the glacier from below, NASA said in a statement.
  •  The size and explosive growth rate of the hole, however, surprised them. It is big enough to have contained 14 billion tonnes of ice, and most of that ice melted over the last three years.
  •  The cavity was revealed by ice-penetrating radar in NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne campaign beginning in 2010 that studies connections between the polar regions and the global climate.


ICC urges Srilankanteam to clean up the mess of corruption

  •  The International Cricket Council has urged Sri Lanka to come clean on corruption before an amnesty expires on Thursday or risk expulsion from the game.
  •  ICC's anti-corruption chief Alex Marshall said new cases had come to light and urged others to come forward before the expiry of the amnesty. He said those who refuse to share information with ICC investigators could face five-year bans if caught.
  •  The ICC said it had received a "positive response" after granting a 15-day amnesty earlier this month for players, coaches or anyone else linked to the sport to come clean.
  •  Sri Lankan cricket has been mired in corruption allegations in recent years, including claims of match-fixing ahead of an international Test against England last year. The cricket's world governing body is in the middle of a major inquiry into the island nation.

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