Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 MARCH 2019


Election Commission to assess poll preparedness in Jammu

  •  The Election Commission of India's (ECI's) team is arriving for a two-day visit to Jammu & Kashmir today to review poll preparedness in view of upcoming General Elections to LokSabha - 2019.
  •  Official sources said that in the first leg of visit, the Commission headed by Deputy Election Commissioner SandeepSaxena will arrive at Srinagar in the morning.
  •  The team is scheduled to hold meetings with political parties including seven national and three regional parties.
  •  The Commission will also hold meetings with top State administration officials including Deputy Commissioners of ten Kashmir Division districts besides Leh and Kargil districts.
  •  The Commission is also scheduled to meet Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) of all the districts, Kashmir Zone Police Chief, nodal officers and other officials to have a first-hand account of the security situation on the ground and related matters in the run-up to the forthcoming LokSabha polls.
  •  The Commission is scheduled to hold similar meetings with political parties, top state administration and security officials in Jammu this evening. The Commission is scheduled to hold a press briefing tomorrow before flying to Delhi.

India seeks Myanmar help to curb rebels

  •  India’s improved ties with Myanmar led to that country’s crackdown in late January on the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), considered the mother lode of most extremist groups in the northeastern region.
  •  A top official said the takeover was significant as Taga was the collective headquarters of extremist groups active in the northeastern region, except the NSCN- Isak-Muivah that has been on a ceasefire since 1997.
  •  Extremist groups such as the United Liberation Front of Asom and the United National Liberation Front of Manipur are known to use jungle routes for hit-and-run operations in India from the NSCN-K’s base.
  •  New Delhi has been constantly conveying to Myanmar the problems created by these outfits. The interaction with the Myanmar government intensified after the NSCN-K split last year and many of its Indian members returned. “We told the Myanmar government that they needed to act,” the official said.
  •  The official said NSCN-K’s military chief NikiSumi, among the last Indian Nagas in the outfit, moved north towards the China border after the crackdown. “The Myanmar Army is putting pressure on them; they don’t want bloodshed,” he said. Sumi carries an award of Rs. 10 lakh on his head.


NITI Aayog to begin monetizing of CPSE’s

  •  The NITI Aayog has been tasked with drawing up a list of non-core assets of various CPSEs, both healthy and sick ones, as a first step towards Finance Ministry’s plan to monetise such assets and unlock value to shareholders.
  •  This is part of the overall plans of the government to lay down a procedure and mechanism for monetisation of non-core assets of central public sector undertakings (CPSEs), that include mainly land and building.
  •  The process would take about six months’ time, the official added. The report by NITI Aayog would be taken up by the alternative mechanism on disinvestment, headed by Finance Minister ArunJaitley, following which the CPSE and the Ministry concerned would proceed with the monetisation process, the official added.
  •  “So far, the disinvestment process was confined to the corporate level. Now, it will go one step down and monetise non-core assets of CPSEs to unlock wealth and generate value on equity for shareholders,” the official added.
  •  In 2016, NITI was asked to draw up a list of CPSEs which could go in for strategic sale. It had identified about 35 CPSEs which could go in for outright sale.

Retail gold recyclers on the rise in the country

  •  The quantum of recycled gold in the system is on the rise in India on account of an increase in gold prices and some players ensuring transparency in evaluation and pricing, said jewellers and gold loan companies.
  •  This trend is also helping curb imports, thus saving foreign exchange. India is the second-largest consumer of gold and the largest importer of the yellow metal, importing about 700-800 tonnes annually.
  •  This has a bearing on India’s current account deficit (CAD). In 2017-18, India’s gold imports increased by 22.3% to $33.65 billion and the CAD jumped to $48.7 billion, or 1.9% of the GDP.
  •  While gold imports have not shown a declining trend, jewellers said that had it not been for gold being recycled, recent imports would have shown a higherspike.
  •  According to estimates, temples and households in India have more than 24,000 tonnes of gold, large parts of which are stored in vaults and used on a need basis.
  •  SuvankarSen, ED, Senco Gold and Diamonds, said, “We are seeing a 15% increase in old gold exchange transactions due to the increase in the gold price. Customers are keen to use their unused gold to meet urgent requirements of jewellery, say, for family occasions.
  •  “Even new designs are being bought in exchange for old designs and jewellery. It will be good for the economy if recycled gold is used, which will enable the government to use foreign exchange for other purposes.”
  •  AnanthaPadmanaban, chairman, Gem and Jewellery Council, said, “The launch of a comprehensive gold policy can help bring a lot family gold into the open market.

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Israel and Russia to cooperate on withdrawing forces from Syria

  •  Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today said his country and Russia are to form a joint team to examine the withdrawal of foreign forces from Syria.
  •  Quoting his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Moscow, Netanyahu told his cabinet that he made it unequivocally clear that Israel will not allow the military entrenchment of Iran in Syria.
  •  Israel is seeking the removal of Iranian forces and has vowed to keep its main enemy from entrenching itself militarily in the neighbouring country.
  •  Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah targets and has established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes with Russia.

U.S-Taliban talks making good progress

  •  Peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S. are progressing on a “step-by-step” basis, a spokesman from the militant group said on Sunday.
  •  Meetings between the two sides restarted over the weekend in Doha after a temporary halt late last week to allow for “internal deliberations”. “The current round of talks in Doha are advancing on a step-by-step basis.
  •  As the issue at hand is immensely crucial and delicate, its progression is taking place with that much care and vigilance,” said Taliban spokesman ZabihullahMujahid.
  •  The spokesman added that the negotiations continue to focus primarily on a potential troop withdrawal and a pact to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a safe haven for terrorists.
  •  “It should be mentioned that no understanding has so far been reached about any agreement or document,” he added.
  •  Meanwhile The United States has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the U.S. Embassy to Israel.


Researchers find out women working at night shifts may have early menopause

  •  Women who work in night shifts, even occasionally, are at an increased risk of early menopause, which can heighten the possibility of developing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and memory problems, finds a new study.
  •  The study showed women who had done continued night shifts for 20 months or more in the preceding two years had a 9% increased risk of early menopause, the Daily Mail reported. If they had done rotating night shifts for more than 20 years, the risk rose to 73%.
  •  “For women who went through menopause before the age of 45, shift work seemed to be particularly important. This could be due to disruption of their circadian rhythms, stress or fatigue, although more research is needed,” lead author David Stock, from the University of Dalhousie in Canada, was quoted as saying.
  •  An early menopause could also come from the stress of working late at night, as stress hormones are believed to disrupt sex hormones like oestrogen. This could also increase the chance that a woman stops ovulating, according to the study published in the journal Human Reproduction .
  •  Previous evidence suggests working in ‘high-strain’ jobs and those with ‘difficult schedules’ is linked to earlier menopause.


Roger Federer gets his 100th ATP title

  •  Roger Federer has claimed the 100th ATP title of his career with after beating 20-year-old Greek StefanosTsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
  •  The 20-time grand slam champion is the second man, after American Jimmy Connors to claim 100 titles.
  •  Swiss great Federer also avenged his shock defeat by Tsitsipas in the Australian Open fourth round in January. Tsitsipas saw the end of an eight-match winning streak as he arrived in the Gulf with the Marseille title from last weekend.

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