Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 January 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 January 2020


NHRC issues notice to Rajasthan govt. over infant deaths

  • National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has issued notice to Rajasthan Government over the reported deaths of over 100 children in Kota Government Hospital.

  • Taking suomotu cognizance of media reports, the commission asked the State Chief Secretary to submit a detailed report within four weeks in the matter including the steps being taken to address the issue.

  • It also directed the State Government to ensure that such deaths do not recur in future due to lack of infrastructure and health facilities at the hospitals.

  • Citing media reports, the NHRC said, over 50 per cent of the gadgets installed in the hospital are defunct and the hospital is lacking cleanliness and basic infrastructure including oxygen supply in the Intensive Care Unit.

  • The commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, raise serious issue of violation of human rights.

New CDS proposes creation of air defence command

  • Chief of the Defence Staff, CDS General BipinRawat has directed various branch heads to come up with recommendations for inter-service synergy and jointness in a time bound manner. After assuming charge as CDS, General Rawat held a meeting with important functionaries of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff on Wednesday.

  • He also directed that a proposal to create Air Defence Command be prepared by 30th of June this year. He also set out priorities for execution of synergy by 30th June and 31st December this year.

  • Some of the areas identified for jointness and synergy include creation of common logistics support pools in stations where two or more services have their presence.

  • Emphasizing collegiate system of functioning, General Rawat directed that all three services and Coast Guard must be consulted and their views obtained in a time bound manner.

  • However, decisions will be taken to ensure optimization of resources. Efforts will be made to cut out infructuous ceremonial activities, which are manpower intensive.

  • The Chief of the Defence Staff stressed that all must work towards accomplishing desired results and coming up with healthy views and ideas.


Budget likely to bring in tax dispute settlement scheme

  • The government is considering a litigation settlement scheme in the upcoming budget that will allow companies to put an end to legacy tax disputes by paying a portion of the money demanded by the revenue department, said four people with knowledge of the matter.

  • This could help bridge the fiscal deficit gap and monetise a part of the amount stuck in tax litigation, they said.

  • An estimated 500,000 cases have been pending in the courts and quasi-judicial forums for years and it could take a long while before the tax department sees any of the money, assuming it eventually wins. The total value of these disputes is pegged at Rs 7-8 lakh crore, said the people.

  • A government task force had recommended the litigation settlement scheme in July last year. Such a move will also help improve ease of doing business. Separately, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had set up a panel to help reduce tax litigation in February last year focused on resolving pending direct tax disputes urgently.

  • The government could ask companies to pay part of the disputed amount along with interest and penalties levied on that, EThas learnt. Or it could ask them to pay 40-50% of the tax demanded. The tax rate may not be the same for every company — it could depend on the litigation amount and even the details of the case.

Forex reserves touches all time high figures

  • India's foreign exchange reserves swelled by 2.520 billion USD to touch a record high of 457.468 billion USD in the week that ended on 27th December 2019.

  • An RBI press release has informed that foreign currency assets, a major part of the overall reserves rose by 2.203 billion USD to 424.936 billion USD.

  • In the previous week, the reserves had surged by 456 million USD to end at 454.948 billion USD. Gold reserves increased by 260 million USD to end at 27.392 billion USD.

  • India's special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund, however dipped by 2 million USD to 1.441 billion USD, while the country's reserve position increased by 58 million USD to 3.7 billion USD.

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In a shocking moment, Iranian general commander killed in U.S attack

  • Iranian General QassemSoleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad International airport. The White House and the Pentagon confirmed the killing of Soleimani in Iraq. At least eight people were killed in the attack. The Iranian state media also confirmed Soleimani's death. Iran's Revolutionary Guards said, Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was among those killed.

  • In a statement the Pentagon said, at the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing QasemSoleimani. The statement said, this strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.

  • According to US media, Gen Soleimani and officials from Iran-backed militias were leaving Baghdad airport in two cars when they were hit by a US drone strike near a cargo area. Iran's foreign minister slammed the killing of Soleimani as a dangerous escalation and warned the United States would bear responsibility for the consequences.

  • Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed severe revenge after the United States killed the commander. President HasanRouhani said, Iran and the "free nations of the region" will take revenge for killing Revolutionary Guards commander.

  • Iran has announced three days of public mourning, after their top commander QasemSoleimani was killed. Tehran also summoned an official from the Swiss embassy, which represents US interests in Iran, to condemn the killing of one of its top commanders, by American forces.

  • Meanwhile India has called for restraint as tensions between the US and Iran are increasing. It said, the increase in tensions between both nations has alarmed the world and it is vital that the situation does not escalate further.

  • External Affairs Ministry said in a release that peace, stability and security in the region is of utmost importance. Noting the killing of a senior Iranian leader by the US, Ministry said India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so.

China sees BRICS as an important player to counter unilateralism\

  • China has said that the current international situation is very complicated with headwinds of protectionism, unilateralism, power politics and bullying practices.

  • Highlighting the importance of BRICS in such a scenario, China said that the world is watching closely the constructive role played by BRICS countries.

  • China's comments came at a time when the situation in the Gulf region is very tensed after the US killed an Iranian military leader in an airstrike.

  • India, China and Russia have urged calm and restraint from all sides and to de-escalate the tension in the region. They have advocated that peace and stability in West Asia and the Gulf region must be upheld.

  • In recent years, the BRICS has shown greater solidarity and deepening practical cooperation and influence to achieve multi-polar world order and it has become an increasingly important force in international affairs.


MEA plans to set up NEST division to increase investment coordination

  • The Ministry of External Affairs is to set up a new division called NEST-New and Emerging Strategic Technologies. The division will work to increase investment coordination among the states of the country and also with the foreign countries.

  • The NEST will act as a nodal point to exchange views with foreign governments. This will help in confronting emerging challenges and scenarios in new technologies.With India coping with issues of security implications in 5G and artificial intelligence, NEST division will help India spread emerging technologies among the states.

  • The division will also hold responsibility for matters that involves negotiations with multilateral fora like United Nations, G20. This will help to safeguard India’s interests as such forums govern the rules of access to such technologies.

  • The top Emerging Technologies in India are Artificial Intelligence and Internet of things. The emerging 5G technology will improve the performance of IoT platforms.

  • 3D printing finds its application widely in areas such as defence, aerospace, automobile, engineering and medical. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is yet another emerging technology that finds its application in supply chain management and customer services.


ManavThakkar becomes world no:1 in ITTF rankings

  • Young Indian paddler ManavThakkar today became world no.1 in the latest International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rankings in the Under-21 men's singles category. With this, Thakkar became the fourth Indian to achieve the feat after Harmeet Desai, G Sathiyan and SoumyajitGhosh.

  • Among other Indians, G. Sathiyan has managed to retain his 30th spot in the senior category. AchantaSharath Kamal has climbed a spot to 33rd position. Top woman paddler, ManikaBatra was static at the 61st position.

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