Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 August 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 02 August 2019


::NATIONAL::

India expresses concern over U.S aid to Pakistan

  • India on Thursday expressed “grave concern” over the recent U.S. military assistance to Pakistan, and stated that it had conveyed its concerns to Washington.

  • The U.S. had publicly stated that the proposed sale was intended to enable it to continue technical and logistics support services to assist in the oversight of the operations of F-16 fighter aircraft in Pakistan's inventory, he said.

  • However, official sources emphasised that the concern expressed was not just for the supply of F-16 parts, but for the “signs of growing military cooperation and resumption of military supplies” by the U.S. to Pakistan.

  • Last week, days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Washington, the State Department approved a military assistance package for “continued support” of the F-16 programme.

  • “The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for Technical Security Team (TST) in continued support of the F-16 programme for an estimated cost of $125 million,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement after delivering the required certification notifying Congress of the possible sale on July 26.

  • Pakistan, which has long operated the F-16s, recently deployed them against India during the aerial engagement on February 27, a day after the Balakot air strike by India.

Parliament passes UAPA amendment bill

  • Parliament has passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 with the RajyaSabha approving it today. The LokSabha has already passed the bill.

  • Replying to discussion on the bill, Home Minister Amit Shah reiterated NDA government’s commitment to fight against terrorism. He said there is a need to speak in one voice against terrorism.

  • Referring to some members objection to naming an individual as a terrorist, Mr. Shah said the countries like US, Pakistan and China also has similar provisions to name an individual as a terrorist.
    He emphatically said a terrorist does not belong to any religion and the law should be amended along with time.

  • Earlier participating in the debate, Congress objected to some of the provisions of the bill saying they are unconstitutional and against individual liberty.

  • P. Chidambaram said the bill empowers the Central government to name any individual a terrorist if it believes so. He said the Bill will be struck down by the court.

  • The Congress leader questioned the provisions in the bill saying the individual is already covered in the law and there is no need to distinguish between organization and individual on the issue of terrorism.

::ECONOMY::

CRISIL cuts growth forecast to 6.9%

  • Ratings agency Crisil has cut its forecast for GDP growth in 2019-20 to 6.9% from its earlier forecast of 7.1%, citing weak monsoon, slow global growth and poor high-frequency data for the first quarter of the financial year.

  • It added that the slowdown would be more pronounced in the April-June period while the second half of the year would be bolstered by the expected monetary easing, consumption, and a statistical low-base effect.

  • Crisil also expects corporate sector growth to slow to 8% in 2019-20, lower than the double-digit growth trend of the last two financial years.

  • The report said that banking sectorNPAs are expected to come down to about 8% by the end of financial year 2019-20, based on lower additional NPAs and increased recoveries. Credit growth is expected to recover to 14%, the highest in five years.

  • “The crucial question is whether a trough is in sight,” Dharmakirti Joshi, chief economist at Crisil said. “Given the fiscal constraints, public spending is unlikely to have the heft to pull growth above 7%,” he said.

Auto firms report double digit decline in sales

  • Continuing to face rough weather, Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and three other auto majors reported a double-digit decline in sales in July as consumer sentiment remained subdued.

  • Market leader Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) said its domestic sales were down 36.3% to 98,210 units last month compared with 1,54,150 units in July last year. It was in June 2017 that the company’s sales had last fallen below 1 lakh units mark in a month.

  • The industry needs stimuli to help revive consumer demand and conversions, he added. Honda Cars India Ltd. (HCIL) reported 48.67% decline in domestic sales to 10,250 units in July.

  • In the two-wheeler space, Bajaj Auto saw its domestic sales dip 13% per cent last month to 2,05,470 units.

  • TVS Motor Company reported a 12.98% dip in its July 2019 sales to 2.79 lakh unit on weaker volumes.In the domestic market, two-wheeler sales dropped to 2.08 lakh units from 2.47 lakh units.

  • Truck major Ashok Leyland reported a 39% contraction in the sales of its medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCV) in the domestic and export markets.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

U.S –Russia nuclear forces treaty reaches dead end

  • The United States and Russia both walked away from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty today putting an end to a landmark arms control treaty that President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed three decades ago.

  • If both US and Russia choose not to extend or replace the larger New START treaty when it expires in early 2021, there will be no legally binding limits on the world's two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time in nearly a half-century.

  • The US blames Russia for the demise of the treaty, saying that for years Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the U.S. and its allies, particularly in Europe.

  • President Donald Trump hasn't committed to extending or replacing New START, which imposed limits starting in 2018 on the number of US and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers.

Netherland law banning burqas in public places comes to effect

  • The Netherlands banned the wearing of a face-covering veil, such as a burqa or niqab, in public buildings and on transport from Thursday as a contentious law on the garment worn by some Muslim women came into force.

  • Between 200 and 400 women are estimated to wear a burqa or niqab in the country of 17 million people.

  • The legislation was passed in June 2018 after a decade of political debate on the subject. The far-right politician Geert Wilders had proposed the veil ban back in 2005.

  • “From now on the wearing of clothing which covers the face is banned in educational facilities, public institutions and buildings, as well as hospitals and public transport,” the Dutch Interior Ministry said.

  • The law also bans face-covering helmet or hood. A person could be fined €150($165). However, the public transport sector said it would not stop to make a woman in a burqa get off as it would cause delays.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Scientists print heart parts using 3D bioprinters

  • U.S. scientists have successfully built functional heart parts out of collagen using a 3D bioprinter, a breakthrough they say could one day create entire organs.

  • Their technique, which was described in the journal Science on Thursday, replicates the body’s own complex biological scaffolds that provide the structure and biochemical signalling organs need to function.

  • “What we were able to show was you can actually 3D print a heart valve out of collagen, and they function,” Adam Feinberg, one of the paper’s co-authors said. Previous attempts at printing these scaffolds, known as extracellular matrices, had been hindered by limitations that resulted in poor tissue fidelity and low resolutions.

  • But the scientists at Carnegie Mellon University were able to overcome these hurdles by using rapid changes in pH to cause the collagen to solidify with precise control. “That’s the very first version of a valve, and so anything that we engineer as a product will actually get better and better,” Mr. Feinberg said.

  • The technique could one day help patients awaiting heart transplants, but it will need to validated through animal testing and eventually human.

::SPORTS::

East Bengal football club celebrates 100 years

  • Football Giant East Bengal Club turns 100 years today. On this day in 1920 East Bengal Club was established at Kumartuli Park in North Kolkata.

  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the centenary year celebrations at a glittering function in Kolkata this evening. Speaking on the occasion Ms. Banerjee recalled glorious contribution of the East Bengal Club for popularizing football game in the country.

  • She said that the State Sports Department will also organize special programmes to mark the Centenary of East Bengal Club. Former Indian Cricket Captain KapilDev was given ‘Bharat Gourav’ Award at the function.

  • Former footballer ManaranjanBhattacherjee and BhaskarGanguli were presented Life Time Achievement Awards and P. K. Banerjee was given best football coach of the Century award. The State Sports Minister Mr. Arup Biswas, Former Indian Cricket Captain SouravGanguly, present and past players were present at the function.

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