Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 September 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 September 2019


::NATIONAL::

Supreme court agrees to study plea demanding food for all

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a plea that starvation deaths continue to eat into the right to life and dignity of social fabric and a “radical” new measure like community kitchens need to be set up across the country to feed the poor and the hungry.

  • The petition said State-funded community kitchens was not a novel concept in the country. They pointed out how Tamil Nadu's AmmaUnavagam had become a roaring success by involving peers in self-help groups, employing the poor to serve hygienic food to eradicate the gnawing problem of hunger on the streets.

  • It urged the court to direct the Chief Secretaries across the country to formulate schemes for the implementation of community kitchens and to further ensure that “no person should sleep on an empty stomach”. It called for the creation of a national food grid by the Centre that would be beyond the scope of the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS).

  • The petition said it has been “reported in 2017 by the National Health Survey (NHS) that approximately 19 crore people in the country were compelled to sleep on an empty stomach every night”.

  • “ Moreover, the most alarming figure revealed is that approximately 4500 children die every day under the age of five years in our country resulting from hunger and malnutrition, amounting to over three lakh deaths every year owing to hunger, of children alone”.

Govt.raises ethanol price to reduce import bill

  • The government on Tuesday raised the price of sugarcane-extracted ethanol used for blending in petrol by up to ₹1.84 per litre as it looked to cut oil import bill by $1 billion annually through its greater use in auto fuels.

  • State-owned oil marketing companies will buy ethanol from sugar mills, for mixing in petrol, at enhanced rates for ethanol from December 1, Petroleum Minister DharmendraPradhan said here.

  • The price of ethanol from ‘C-heavy molasses’ has been raised by 29 paise per litre to ₹43.75 while the same from ‘B-heavy molasses’, also called as intermediary molasses, by ₹1.84 to ₹54.27 a litre.

  • Pradhan said the higher price is expected to increase the procurement of ethanol to 260 crore litres between December 2019 and November 2020, up from 200 crore litres bought in the previous ethanol year.

  • Commenting on the decision, Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) director general AbinashVerma said: “Government’s decision to increase ethanol price once again, with special emphasis and a higher increase for ethanol made from B-heavy molasses, confirms the government’s commitment towards encouraging more diversion of the surplus sugarcane/sugar into ethanol.”

  • The minister said “Additionally, GST and transportation charges will also be payable. OMCs have been advised to fix realistic transportation charges so that long distance transportation of ethanol is not disincentivised,” he said adding the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels will reduce import dependence and give boost to agriculture sector.

::ECONOMY::

RBI task force recommends removal of information asymmetries from central loan registry

  • Reserve Bank-constituted task-force on developing a vibrant secondary market for corporate loans has called for setting up a central loan contract registry to remove information asymmetries between buyers and sellers.

  • The six-member task force, headed by Canara Bank chairman TN Manoharan, was formed to examine the scope for developing a secondary market for corporate loans and make recommendations to facilitate rapid development of such a vibrant market.

  • The task force submitted the report to Governor Shaktikanta Das yesterday. It has called for creating a loan contract registry to remove information asymmetries between buyers and sellers, its ownership structure and related protocols such as standardization of loan information, independent validation and data access.

  • It also suggests creation of a self-regulatory body of the participants that can finalise detailed operational modalities of such a secondary market, including standardization of the documentation process.

  • The report also recommends setting up of an online loan sales platform to conduct auctions/sale process of secondary market loans.

India faces high mortality from cardio vascular diseases : Study

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be the leading cause of death across the world, but there are significant variations between rich and poor nations. While in high income countries, death from cancer is twice that of CVD, in low income countries, including India, death from cardiac disease was three times that of cancer.

  • Additionally, indoor or household air pollution has been identified as a key cause of CVD, research papers published in the Lancet, on Tuesday, have shown.

  • “The study establishes that though risk factors are lower in low income countries, factors such as access to quality health care and lack of insurance have a play, leading to the mortality,” explained V. Mohan, one of the co-authors of the study, and president, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Chennai. With better insurance and improving hospital standards, it is possible for LIC to head towards similar outcomes, he said.

  • In another paper, also published in the Lancet on Tuesday, on ‘Modifiable risk factors, cardiovascular disease, and mortality’, researchers established indoor air pollution as an emerging source of risk for cardiovascular disease in LIC and MIC.

  • “This is a worrisome fact — the identification of indoor air pollution or household pollution as a risk factor for CVD. So far we have looked at upper respiratory diseases as a consequence, but this does not sound good, and we must take measures to modify this particular risk factor,” Dr. Mohan added.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India –Russia to expand bilateral cooperation

  • Prime Minister NarendraModi will embark on a three- day visit to Vladivostok in Russia this evening to take part in the 5th Eastern Economic Forum - EEF summit. Prime Minister will be the Chief Guest at the 5th Eastern Economic Forum. The Prime Minister will also attend the 20th annual summit between Russia and India during the visit.

  • Ahead of his visit, in his departure statement, Prime Minister said his visit to Vladivostok is the first-ever by an Indian Prime Minister to the Far East Region of Russia and it underlines the desire on the both sides to strengthen the bonds of robust bilateral relations. He said the EEF summit presents enormous potential for developing close and mutually beneficial cooperation between Rusia and India in this region.

  • He said India and Russia enjoy excellent relations, based on the strong foundation of special strategic partnership and also have robust and growing trade and investment opportunities. The Prime Minister said, Our strong partnership is complemented by a desire to promote a multipolar world and the two countries closely cooperate towards this end in regional and multilateral fora.

  • In Russia, Prime Minister would also visit to the Zvezda ship-building complex. In a tweet, Prime Minister said, It would present a great opportunity to learn about Russia’s exemplary capabilities in the ship-building sector as well as explore possibilities of cooperation in this area.

  • The possibility of oil and gas supply from the Arctic will also be explored during the bilateral talks. In addition, both countries will explore ways to enhance cooperation while working in multilateral organisations like Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS.

Iran cuts off bilateral talks with the U.S

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today ruled out holding any bilateral talks with the United States. He also threatened to further cut Iran's commitments to a nuclear deal within days.

  • In an address to Parliament, Rouhani said any dialogue with the US would have to fall within the framework of the group of major powers that agreed to a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in 2015.

  • He also said Iran was ready to further reduce its commitments to the accord in the coming days if current negotiations with European nations yield no results by Thursday.

  • Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal and began reimposing crippling sanctions.

  • The arch-foes were on the cusp of confrontation in June when Iran downed a US drone and Trump ordered retaliatory strikes before cancelling them at the last minute.

  • The 2015 deal was agreed between Iran and permanent members of UN Security Council Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Indian softshell turtles released on to Pobitora wildlife sanctuary

  • About 70 hatchlings of the rare Black Softshell and Indian Softshell turtles bred in the ponds of two temples in Assam were on Monday released in the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, about 50 km east of Guwahati.

  • The sanctuary is often called ‘Mini Kaziranga’ because of similar landscape and a sizeable population of the one-horned rhino.

  • The “wild restocking” of the two turtle species was done under a joint programme of the management committees of two temples — Ugratara in Guwahati and HayagrivMadhav in Hajo about 35 km north-west — the Assam Forest Department and two NGOs specialising in the conservation of reptiles.

  • “This wild restocking programme is important for sustaining turtles in the Brahmaputra river system, especially the Black Softshell (Nilssonianigricans) that is considered extinct in the wild. Thankfully, the last of these rare species were surviving in some of Assam’s temple ponds that are not ideal habitats for them,” Help Earth’s JayadityaPurkayastha told.

  • Assam is the most species-rich State in India in terms of turtle diversity. It is home to 20 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises out of 29 species found in India. But, 80% of these species are threatened with extinction.

::SPORTS::

Indian cricketing star Mithali Raj announces retirement from T20’s

  • Indian women's cricket great and ODI captain Mithali Raj announced her retirement from T20 Internationals today. The 36-year-old said she wants to focus on her ODI career, keeping in mind the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand.

  • The veteran cricketer's announcement came as a surprise, considering that she had last week made herself available for the home series against South Africa, beginning from 24th of this month.

  • Mithali ended her T20 career with 2,364 runs from 89 matches at an average of 37.5 and the highest score of 97 not out. She made her T20 International debut in 1999 and played her last match in March against England in Guwahati.

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