Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 November 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 04 November 2019


::NATIONAL::

Cabinet secretary urges need to monitoring of MoU’s with foreign nations

  • The Centre is carrying out a review of all memorandum of understandings (MoUs) signed with foreign governments and wants to weed out obsolete agreements that have lost their relevance. In a set of instructions sent to all ministries, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has asked for updates and outcomes of all MoUs and agreements signed.

  • Over the past years, ministries have signed scores of Mo-Us that are usually centred around visits by the top leadership. These range from cooperation in green energy to information sharing, health care, infrastructure and defence talks.

  • Though not legally binding, the MoUs are often the starting point to initiate formal agreements or set in a mechanism to enable talks on specific topics between Indian ministries and foreign governments. While ministries have limited autonomy in deciding on the MoUs, the more relevant ones require prior permission by the Cabinet.

  • In the last 10 years, during the foreign visits of the Indian Prime Minister, 609 MoUs have been signed. According to Parliament data, 138 of these were signed in 2018.

  • The actual number of MoUs over the last 10 years would greatly exceed this number as such agreements are also signed during visits of other ministers abroad as well as incoming visits by foreign leaders.

  • In the communique sent to ministries last month, Gauba wrote that MoUs provide strong opportunities to strengthen bilateral relations but there needs to be a “continuous and effective monitoring” to ensure that their potential is fully tapped.

Survey finds 40% of residents wants to leave NCR

  • Over 40% residents of Delhi and NCR want to move to another city because of bad air quality while 16% want to travel during the period, according to a new survey. The survey with over 17,000 respondents from Delhi and NCR region has found that 13% resident believe that they have no option but to cope with rising pollution levels.

  • “While 16% people said they would stay in Delhi NCR but travel during this period of toxic pollution, 13% said they would stay here and have no option but to cope with rising pollution levels,” it added.

  • When asked how pollution affected their health in the past week, 13% respondents said a family member has visited a hospital while 29% said one or more have visited a doctor.

  • “Some 44% respondents said they were having health problems related to pollution but have not visited a doctor or hospital and only 14% people said they have had no impact of pollution on health,” according to the survey.

  • The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority has banned construction activities in Delhi-NCR till Tuesday as of now.

::ECONOMY::

PM claims India rolling out faceless tax assessment system

  • India is rolling out "faceless tax assessment" system to forestall any discretion or harassment in tax collection, Prime Minister NarendraModi said on Sunday as he highlighted major reform initiatives launched by his government in the financial sectors in the last five years.

  • Hard-selling India as one of the most attractive investment destinations globally, Modi also said the country has stopped working in a routine, bureaucratic manner and was undergoing "transformative changes" in its march towards economic and social development.

  • Modi also asserted that India now has one of the most people-friendly tax regimes in the world and that efforts are on to further improve taxation system.

  • Modi specifically mentioned about how rolling out of the Goods and Services Tax has resulted in the economic integration in the country, adding his government was working towards making it more people-friendly.

  • The prime minister said it was the best time to be in India and that many things such as foreign direct investment, ease of doing business, ease of living and productivity are rising while tax rates, red -tapism, corruption, cronyism are on a decline.

CII demands government to join RCEP

  • Citing a potential increase in trade within Asia-Pacific region and opportunity for India to become part of the global value chains, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has said the country should join the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement.

  • The industry association said that if India does not join the agreement, it would be cut off from the RCEP region in terms of preferential access and that this would “hinder investments from many RCEP countries and thus stymie its efforts to increase its integration into regional and global chains”.

  • Talks for the proposed trade pact are in the final stages in Bangkok and Prime Minister NarendraModi is visiting Thailand from November 2-4 to participate in various ASEAN related summits, including the ASEAN-India Summit, East Asia Summit and a meeting on RCEP negotiations.

  • The CII’s statement comes at a time when various domestic industries including dairy, textile and automobiles have raised serious concerns and opposed the pact over tariff related issues, especially with China.

  • The PM had said on Saturday that India will consider whether its concerns and interests in trade in goods, services, and investments are being fully accommodated when he attends the RCEP Leaders’ Summit.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Reports find Chinese country sides moving towards poverty

  • China's countryside is "returning to poverty" as it is affected by the economic slowdown, ongoing trade war with America and the widening rural and urban divide, according to a report compiled by a think tank associated with the country's Agriculture Ministry.

  • The report by the Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant says the rural income has been in decline since 2014 and has fallen by another 20 per cent in the first half of this year.

  • The welfare of the agricultural economy has become ever more crucial as China's relatively untapped rural consumer market is now seen as a resource to help offset the slowest growth in more than 28 years, clouded by continuing trade tensions with the United States, the Post report said.

  • But the government's good intentions could once again be thwarted by structural obstacles that stand in the way of needed economic reforms. With each year, the gap widens between China's rural villages and its cities, the report said.

Commonwealth law minister’s conference begins in Colombo

  • In Sri Lanka, the biennial Commonwealth Law Ministers’ Conference began in Colombo today under the theme Equal Access to Justice and the Rule of Law. Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad will be representing India at the conference.

  • The four-day conference participated by Law Ministers and Attorney Generals from Commonwealth countries seeks to address challenges faced by millions of people seeking to resolve legal problems or disputes.

  • Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland emphasized the event’s significance in the current global context in which obstacles to justice are prevalent in many forms.

  • These include barriers such as poverty, lack of legal aid, distrust of the justice system and corruption. She said that access to justice is fundamental for democracy and peace to flourish and so Commonwealth countries are working actively through mutual support and encouragement to address barriers that may remain, particularly for vulnerable groups.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Russia agrees to provide life support system to Gaganyaan astronauts

  • Russia will not only train Indian astronauts for the country’s maiden human spaceflight programme or Gaganyaan mission but will also help provide life support system to the Indian space crew and heating mechanism for the spacecraft.

  • A life support system is a group of devices that allow a human to survive in space. The system supplies air, water and food, maintains optimum body temperature and deals with human waste products.

  • The thermal control system keeps all the spacecraft’s component systems within acceptable temperature ranges during all phases of the mission.

  • If a component is subjected to extreme temperatures, it could get damaged or its performance could be severely affected.

  • Glavkosmos and Isro had earlier signed a contract on June 27 in providing support in the selection of astronauts, their medical examination as well as training them for space flight. Under the agreement, Glavkosmos would select and train four Indian astronauts out of the 12 India would sent.

  • The two countries had then also discussed Indian-crewed flight carrier rocket aerodynamic tests, piloted vehicle and crew rescue system. It was then reported that the two sides may also negotiate the contracts for supply of crew seats, windows and spacesuits.

::SPORTS::

LakshyaSen wins Saarlor Lux tournament in Germany

  • India's LakshyaSen has won the SaarLorLux Open badminton tournament at Saarbrücken in Germany. He defeated SenWeng Hong Yang of China in an exciting final last night.

  • World number 51 Lakshya took 59 minutes to overcome Weng in the summit clash. The 18-year-old from Uttarakhand had entered the final beating Kiran George in an all-Indian semifinal.

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