Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 MARCH 2019


Nation erupts in joy as wing commander Abhinandan returns home

  •  Indian Air Force fighter pilot Wing Commander AbhinandanVarthaman was freed by Pakistan on Friday, two days after his MiG-21 fighter jet came down in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  •  “Wing Commander AbhinandanVarthaman has been handed over to us as per standard operating procedure of the IAF. He is now being taken for a detailed medical checkup,” Air Vice- Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (ACAS) Operations (Space), told reporters at Attari in Amritsar, reading from a text.
  •  He said a medical checkup is mandated, particularly because the officer has had to eject from an aeroplane, which could have put his entire body under great stress. “IAF is happy to have Abhinandan back,” he added.
  •  Wg. Cdr. Varthaman was brought from Islamabad to Wagah by the Pakistani authorities and handed over to Indian High Commission officials after completing the formalities.
  •  Expressing happiness that talks to further thrash out the modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor were on track despite the tensions, Capt. Amarinder requested the central government to allow 5,000-10,000 pilgrims to cross through every day once the corridor becomes operational.
  •  Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh welcomed the release of WgCdrVarthaman and urged Pakistan to admit to, and release, the Prisoners of War (PoWs) still in its captivity from the 1971 war.

Vice president stresses on importance of education

  •  The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the education we impart in our schools, colleges and universities must lead to self discovery, enlightenment and awakening of an individual. He was addressingat Hyderabad today.
  •  The Vice President said that by 2020, the median age in India will be just 28, compared to 37 in China and the US, 45 in Western Europe, and 49 in Japan. Demographics is a game changer in economic development and can transform the pace and pattern of economic growth, he added.
  •  Shri Naidu said that investing in people through healthcare, quality education, jobs and skills helps build human capital. He further said that though India has made considerable gains in human development, it still grapples from challenges of illiteracy, big barriers to secondary schooling, low-quality public services, and gender discrimination. It is time for India to pursue a much more aggressive education plan, exploiting the new technology opportunities, he added.
  •  The Vice President said that there should be renewed focus on gender equality and safety of women through gender sensitization and gender sensitization must begin at the home, schools and colleges. He urged the institution to do everything in its power to encourage more and more young women to avail opportunities of higher education.
  •  Saying that even when jobs are available, candidates with the right skill set that fit the job are not available, the Vice President suggested to tackle this issue with the PradhanMantriKaushalVikasYojna 2.0 which has been launched in October 2016 and aims to train 10 Million Youth over a period of 4 years.
  •  Advising to pay attention to equity in access to education, the Vice President said that women and girls, Scheduled Castes and Tribes, differently-abled and minority groups need to have a barrier free and equitable access to higher education.


RBI signs bilateral swap agreement with Japan

  •  Reserve Bank of India and Bank of Japan have signed a Bilateral Swap Arrangement (BSA). It may be recalled that the BSA was negotiated between India and Japan during the visit of Prime Minister NarendraModi to Tokyo in October last year.
  •  The BSA provides for India to access 75 billion US dollars whereas the earlier BSA had provided for 50 billion dollars. The BSA was approved by the Union Cabinet in January this year. The agreement for the BSA has become effective from today. India can access the agreed amount of 75 billion dollars for its domestic currency, for the purpose of maintaining an appropriate level of balance of payments or short-term liquidity.
  •  A part of the BSA can be accessed at the discretion of India. India has a comfortable level of foreign exchange reserves presently. The BSA provides India flexibility to use the reserves if at any point of time, in its judgment, there is a need to use the resources available under BSA.
  •  The government of India has welcomed BSA effectiveness and expressed its gratitude to Japan for agreeing to enter into this arrangement. In a statement, the Ministry of Finance said, it is in the spirit of strong partnership and carries out its strategic partnership further. It said the financial cooperation would further enhance the strong economic ties between India and Japan.

Indian exporters to tap potential of African markets

  •  Indian exporters need to increasingly tap African countries that have an almost “unlimited market,” said David Rasquinha, MD, Export Import Bank of India.
  •  Pointing out that expanding geographical range and product diversification were critical for Indian exporters, he said in 2018-19, exports were expected to surpass the $304-billion figure of 2017-18.
  •  Delivering the keynote address at an international trade conclave arranged by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry here, on Friday, he also highlighted the rising concerns of the Indian textile exporters and the challenges being faced by exporters.
  •  Referring to Africa, he said that India’s exports to this continent had increased from 7.5% in 2009-10 to 8% in 2017-18. Of the 54 African countries, there was significant trade with 47. Many of these countries ranked high in terms of ease of business.
  •  On the issue of the competition being faced by Indian textile exporters from Bangladesh and Vietnam, he highlighted the need to scale up business to combat cost pressures.
  •  On the changing role of finance, he said that the banking sector’s health was now improving through various measures, especially through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. He shared his concern on LIBOR as a benchmark rate, noting that its trustworthiness had now come under the scanner.
  •  While a new benchmark dollar interest rate had been created (Secured Overnight Financing Rate), the change from LIBOR is not easy as it is tied to all kinds of financial instruments.

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China to take issue of North Korean sanctions at UNSC

  •  China has called for North Korean sanctions relief to be discussed at the UN Security Council after US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un ended a summit without a deal.
  •  Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing today, the UN Security Council should start discussions on the reversible clauses of the resolutions, which imposed sanctions on North Korea.
  •  He said the council should adjust the sanctions in accordance with the principle of simultaneous reciprocity.
  •  The Chinese spokesman further said, both the countries note that lifting sanctions is an important part of the denuclearisation process.
  •  Beijing is the North's main trade partner and sole major ally, but it has backed a raft of UN sanctions following Pyongyang's repeated nuclear and missile tests in recent years.

China hopes for de-escalation of tensions between India & Pak

  •  China on Friday welcomed the release of the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, AbhinandanVarthaman by Pakistan, and hoped it would lead to further de-escalation of tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad, as well as yield a joint investigation into the Pulwama terror attack.
  •  Asked if China had played any behind-the-scenes role in facilitating Wing Commander Abhinandan’s release, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said, “From the start, China has been calling upon both sides to exercise restraint and take measures to decrease tension, engage in dialogue to resolve their differences.”
  •  “I have taken note of the development [and] that China welcomes the goodwill signals released by the Pakistan side. “De-escalation serves the common interest of both sides. We encourage the two sides to engage in more dialogue for the peace and stability in the region.”
  •  Asked to comment on Wing Commander Abhinandan’s release as well as the presentation of a dossier by India to Pakistan on the Pulwama episode, Mr. Lu said Beijing had been encouraging both sides “to create a favourable atmosphere for the joint efforts to deal with the relevant issue”.


Scientists believe Arctic ocean to be ice free soon

  •  The Arctic Ocean could experience ice-free summers within the next 20 years, much earlier than previously predicted. A new study has warned that unless human greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced, the Arctic will be nearly free of sea ice during the summer by the middle of this century.
  •  In addition to the human-caused warming, the melting of ice may also occur due to a natural, long-term warming phase in the tropical Pacific.
  •  Ocean temperatures in the Pacific always vary from month-to-month and from year-to-year, but slowly evolving ocean processes cause long-term temperature shifts lasting between 10 and 30 years.
  •  These shifts in temperature, known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), translate into an approximately 0.5 degree Celsius shift in ocean surface temperature in the tropics.
  •  The researchers used a computer climate model to predict climate change. The study was published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters.


India wins massively over Turkmenistan in Turkish Women’s cup

  •  With a goal hattrick by Sanju, Indian women's team romped to a massive 10-0 victory against Turkmenistan in their second match of the Turkish Women's Cup in Alanya today.
  •  Sanju who scored goals at 17th, 37th, 71st minutes of the game, was the highest scorer of the match. AnjuTamang scored goals at 51st and 83rd minutes, Ranjana at 60th and 62nd while Dangmei Grace at 7th, Sumithra at 77th and IndumathiKathiresan at 87th also scored one goal each.
  •  India thus bounced back from their 0-1 defeat against Uzbekistan on Wednesday. India is next set to face Romania on Sunday.

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