Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 January 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 January 2020


India-Pakistan exchange list of prisoners & fishermen

  • India and Pakistan exchanged the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen of each country lodged in jails through diplomatic channels. India handed over lists of 267 Pakistan civilian prisoners and 99 fishermen to Pakistan who are in India’s custody.

  • Similarly, Pakistan has shared lists of 55 civilian prisoners and 227 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or believed-to-be Indians. External Affairs Ministry said that this is in keeping with the provisions of the 2008 Agreement under which such lists are exchanged on 1st January and 1st July every year.

  • India has emphasised on the need for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats from Pakistan’s custody.

  • Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 4 Indian civilian prisoners and 126 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan. Pakistan has also been asked to provide immediate consular access to 14 believed-to-be Indian civilian prisoners and 100 Indian fishermen who are in its custody.

  • MEA said, India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen.

India ranks well in climate change performance index

  • India for the first time ranks among the top ten in the Climate Change Performance Index, CCPI, which goes further to prove that all efforts and activities being currently undertaken by the government are setting a tone of vast improvements.

  • Government aims to increase the share of non-fossil fuels to 175 GigaWatt by 2022 and further take it to 450 GW. AIR correspondent takes a look at the major initiatives taken by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

  • Air pollution is one of the biggest global environmental challenges of today. A time bound national level strategy for pan India implementation to tackle the increasing air pollution problem in a comprehensive manner in the form of National Clean Air Programme was launched last year.

  • India is among few countries in the world where forest cover is consistently increasing. The total forest and tree cover rises to over 24 percent of the total geographical area of the Country.

  • Government is taking all possible steps to protect the tiger. According to the latest tiger census data -2018, the total tigers inIndia has risen to around three thousand.

  • In a major boost towards promoting afforestation and achieving green objectives of the country, government handed over 47 thousand crore rupees of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, CAMPA funds to various states in August last year.


Finance ministry cuts spending for upcoming quarter

  • The finance ministry has cut the amount various ministries and department can spend in the last quarter to a maximum of 25% of their budget estimate for the entire financial year, citing fiscal situation.The earlier limit for the last quarter spending was 33%.

  • Also, within the 25% cap on spending for January-March, only a maximum of 10% of the total budget can be spent in March against 15% earlier, the economic affairs department has said in an official memo.

  • The revised limit means that departments that have not yet substantially utilised their funds will not be able to spend the full budget amount this fiscal.

  • The government is struggling to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of the GDP following muted growth in tax revenues because of an economic slowdown. India’s growth fell to a six-year low of 4.5% in the July-September quarter.

  • Also, the recent reduction in corporate tax to help revive the economy is likely to cost the government Rs 1.45 lakh crore. The government’s fiscal deficit for April-October period was 2.4% more than the full year estimate.

  • Ratings agencies such as Moody’s Investor Services, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings, and Fitch Ratings have already raised concerns about possible fiscal slippage.

Government brings in BIM technology to boost infrastructure

  • In a move that will give a boost to infrastructure and housing projects across the country, the government is considering the latest building information and modelling (BIM) technology to fast-track construction work. The move will also help optimise the cost of housing construction and in achieving the government’s target of housing for all.

  • According to the latest report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, at least 355 projects have seen a cost overrun of Rs 3.88 lakh crore and about 552 projects have faced time escalation.

  • NITI Aayog officials said BIM could save up to 20% of the project cost by shortening the construction time. The government think tank wants all the infrastructure ministries to consider the model.

  • Apart from housing-for-all projects, the think tank is also considering the use of technology for the construction of national highways, greenfield airport and metro projects, station redevelopment and railway capacity augmentation programmes.

  • The usage of BIM in large infrastructural projects will enable better efficiency, lower costs and less negative impact on the environment. BIM helps in simulating conditions and can fixing problems beforehand,” said Sunil MK, the head of architecture, engineering and construction at Autodesk India, which offers software services in areas such as architecture, engineering and construction.

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Bangladesh restores data connectivity near Indian borders

  • Bangladesh has reversed its decision of shutting down mobile networks along the country's over 4,000 km-long borders with India, two days after asking telecom operators to block the services citing "security" reasons, according to media reports on Wednesday.

  • The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Sunday directed the shut down of around 2,000 base transceiver stations, affecting around 1 crore users in 32 districts that share border with India and Myanmar.

  • The government's directive to the telecommunication operators came days after India's Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), causing much concern in Dhaka that it could lead to an influx of migrants from India.

  • Mobile operators also confirmed that they have started to up their network again but it will take about a day to fully reinstate the connections as some of the towers are in very remote areas, the report said.

  • Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen has said that Bangladesh has requested New Delhi to provide a list of Bangladeshi nationals living illegally in India, "if any", to be repatriated.He had also cancelled his visit to India beginning December 12, hours before he was to arrive in New Delhi.

U.S-China phase 1 trade deal by mid January

  • A partial new US-China trade agreement will be signed in the middle of next month, US President Donald Trump said Tuesday, announcing that he will also then travel to China for continued talks.

  • Trump said he would then travel to Beijing to continue negotiations "at a later date."

  • Word of the deal, and the de-escalation of the trade conflict, has driven a Wall Street rally this month but US stocks were lower at the open early Tuesday.

  • The two sides earlier this month announced a "Phase One" deal in their nearly two-year trade confrontation, with Washington cancelling and reducing some tariffs in exchange for Chinese pledges to increase purchases of US exports and adopt trade reforms.

  • The text of the agreement has not yet been made public pending legal and translation reviews, US officials say, and details remain scant.

  • U.S and Chinese officials said the agreement includes protections for intellectual property, food and farm goods, financial services and foreign exchange, and a provision for dispute resolution.


ISRO to setup launching port in Tamilnadu

  • Indian Space Research Organisation will establish a second launch port in Thoothukodi district in Tamilnadu exclusively to launch small satellite launch vehicles.

  • Speaking to media persons in Bengaluru today, ISRO Chairman K Sivan informed that this will come up in 2300 acres.

  • On the lines of GPS navigation system developed by America, the Indian navigation system called Navic with the indigenous atomic clock will be operational with mobile phone manufacturers coming forward to install the regional navigation device.

  • On future programmes, the ISRO Chairman said that Chandrayaan 3 mission to the moon, comprising of a lander and a rover is approved by the Government.

  • On the progress made in India’s first manned mission to outer space Gaganyaan, he said, the process of Astronaut selection is over and four men selected from Indian Air Force will leave for Russia in the third week of January to get training. The Gaganyaan mission is targeted to be launched by 2022.

  • Before that unmanned missions will be launched to test the crew module with robots resembling humans.

  • This unmanned space mission will test spacecraft re-entry technology, space capsule recovery experiment and effect of microgravity on the crew module necessary for the human space travel.


Khelo India youth games to be held in Guwahati

  • The third Khelo India youth games will be held in Guwahati between 10th and 22nd of next month. Six thousand five hundred athletes from 37 teams will take part in the event.

  • Chief Executive Officer of the Games Avinash Joshi told All India Radio that the upcoming event is going to be the biggest multidisciplinary games ever held in the country. He said Cycling and lawn ball have been introduced as new disciplines in the games.

  • Assam Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal launched the torch relay of the competition in Guwahati on Sunday. The torch will be carried to all district headquarters to elicit the cooperation of the people for the success of the Games.

  • Mr Sonowal asked the people of Assam to create a fantastic environment for all the athletes who will be participating in the competitions.

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