Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 05 September 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 05 September 2019


::NATIONAL::

India-Pakistan agree on visa free travel to Kartarpur corridor

  • India and Pakistan today agreed to visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims, without any restrictions based on their faith for the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. The understanding was reached during the third round of talks on the modalities for operationalization of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor held today at Attari.

  • Five thousand pilgrims can visit GurdwaraKartarpur Sahib using the Corridor every day. Additional pilgrims, over and above the figure of five thousand, can visit on special occasions but that will be subject to capacity expansion by Pakistan side.

  • Pakistan has conveyed its solemn commitment to increase this number to the maximum possible. Sources said, the Corridor will be operational throughout the year and seven days a week. Pilgrims will have a choice to visit as individuals or in groups, and on foot.

  • Both the sides agreed to build the bridge at Budhi Ravi Channel. Pending the construction of the bridge on the Pakistan side, both sides agreed to the crossing point coordinates of the temporary service road being built. They also agreed upon emergency evacuation procedures, especially medical emergencies. A direct line of communication between Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers will be used for the same.

  • The decision arrived at the technical level meeting on 30 August 2019 regarding sharing of details of pilgrims using the Corridor has been endorsed by both the sides. The two countries agreed upon ensuring safe and secure environment for the movement of pilgrims.

  • Pakistan has been requested, once again, to allow protocol officers from India to accompany pilgrims every day for facilitating their visit. The Pakistan side has agreed to make sufficient provision for preparation and distribution of Langar and Prasad for the pilgrims.

New delhi loses 6 ranks on most liveable cities

  • The national capital has dropped by six places to rank 118th on a list of the world’s most liveable cities due to increase in cases of petty crimes and poor air quality, an annual survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) showed on September 4.

  • While New Delhi registered the biggest decline in Asia, Mumbai also fell two places since last year to rank 119th on the list topped by Vienna (Austria) for the second consecutive year.

  • The EIU also flagged “an escalation in abuses against journalists in recent years” in India, citing a decline in the country’s ranking in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index where India now sits in the bottom quartile of countries.

  • The study said that Asian cities overall have scored slightly below the global average while three Asian cities — Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea (135th), Pakistan’s Karachi (136th) and Bangladesh’s Dhaka (138th) — are among the ten least liveable globally.

  • Among the BRIC countries, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) was positioned at the 89th place, Moscow (Russia) at 68th, St Petersburg (Russia) 71st. The Chinese cities in the list include Suzhou at 75th rank, Beijing 76th, Tianjin 79th, Shanghai 80th, Shenzhen 84th, Dalian 90th, Guangzhou 96th and Qingdao 97th.

  • Several major global cities received mixed scores. London and New York ranked 48th and 58th out of the 140 cities in the survey.

::ECONOMY::

RBI makes repo rate linked loans for banks mandatory

  • The Reserve Bank of India has made it mandatory for banks to link all of their new loan products, be it personal, housing or auto to an external benchmark like the policy repo rate.

  • Stating that transmission of policy rate benefits under the current framework has not been satisfactory, RBI today issued a circular saying that banks will have to link their products to an external benchmark with effect from 1st October 2019.

  • The circular informs that banks can also choose any benchmark market interest rate published by Financial Benchmarks India Private Limited - FBIL or the government’s 3-month and 6-month treasury bill yields published by FBIL as their preferred external benchmark.

  • This move is likely to cheer borrowers ahead of the festive season as banks will now be forced to pass the entire rate cut benefit announced by RBI in recent months and offer lower interest rates.

  • It may be recalled that in its December policy statement, RBI had announced its intention to make it mandatory for banks to link all new floating interest rate to an external benchmark.

India enters list of top 10 countries with gold reserves

  • India has pipped the Netherlands to move into the list of top ten countries in terms of total gold reserves.

  • Interestingly, in terms of individual countries, India actually ranks ninth since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) occupies the third position after the U.S. and Germany.

  • While the IMF is ranked third with a holding of 2,451.8 tonnes, it is followed by countries such as Italy (2,451.8 tonnes), France (2,436.1 tonnes), Russia (2,219.2 tonnes), China (1,936.5 tonnes), Switzerland (1,040 tonnes) and Japan (765.2 tonnes) before India at the 10th spot.

  • India’s entry into the list of top ten countries comes at a time when the quantum of monthly purchases is the lowest in over three years.

  • “Net purchases [of a tonne or more] in July amounted to a relatively modest 13.1 tonnes. This is 90% less than June and the lowest level of monthly net purchases since August 2017,” said Alistair Hewitt, director — Market Intelligence, World Gold Council.

  • Previously, when the WGC reported the country-wise reserves in March, India’s gold holding was pegged at 607 tonnes.

  • India’s gold reserves have grown substantially in the past couple of decades from 357.8 tonnes in the first quarter of 2000 to the current 618.2 tonnes.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India to manufacture defence components for Russia

  • In a major breakthrough in Indo-Russian defence ties, India will start manufacturing spare parts and components for the Russian military equipment under transfer of technology and set up joint ventures, as the two strategic partners tried to transform their existing buyer-seller relationship into one of collaboration.

  • This was agreed during wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister NarendraModi and Russian President Vladimir Putin here in the Far East Russian port city as they pledged to elevate the India-Russia partnership to new heights of cooperation.

  • Close cooperation between Russia and India in military and military-technical areas is a key pillar of bilateral and especially privileged strategic partnership, the two leaders said.

  • Briefing reporters on the Modi-Putin talks, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the agreement for manufacturing spare parts for the Russian military equipment was in tune with Prime Minister Modi’s wish to transform the defence relationship.

  • Mr. Putin invited Mr.Modi to attend the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War in Moscow in May 2020.India and Russia signed on a road map for cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector with Moscow agreeing to look at supplying coking coal from its Far East.

British MP’s reject new PM’s Brexit plan as well as elections

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government was left in limbo on Wednesday after MPs voted to derail his Brexit plan and rejected his call for an early election to break the political deadlock.

  • Just six weeks after taking office, Mr. Johnson lost his majority in the House of Commons as his own MPs joined opposition parties to stop him taking Britain out of the EU next month without a deal.

  • On Wednesday evening, they approved a bill that could force Mr. Johnson to delay Brexit to January or even later if he cannot agree exit terms with Brussels in time.

  • But in yet another twist in the tortuous Brexit process, the opposition Labour Party refused to vote for the election, which requires the backing of two-thirds of MPs.

  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that while he wanted an election, he would not support the prime minister's “cynical” call until the law blocking “no deal” was implemented.

  • The default legal position is that Britain will leave the EU on October 31 unless it delays or asks to stay in the bloc.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

WHO brings in global registry on human genome editing

  • An expert advisory committee of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved the first phase of a global registry to track research on human genome editing as the UN’s international public health monitor seeks to address the ethical and regulatory challenges surrounding promising new technologies to address gene based treatments.

  • Accepting the committee’s recommendation, WHO has now announced plans for an initial phase of the registry using the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP).

  • “This phase will include somatic and germline clinical trials,” the WHO said in the release. “In order to ensure that the registry is fit for purpose and transparent, the committee will engage with a broad range of stakeholders on how it will operate,” it added.

  • The 18-member expert committee also announced an online consultation on the governance of genome editing.

  • The committee called on all relevant research and development initiatives to register their trials. To enhance the development of a global governance framework for human genome editing, the committee will undertake both online consultations and in-person engagement.

::SPORTS::

Kohli surpasses Dhoni as most successful test captain

  • ViratKohli has surpassed Mahendra Singh Dhoni to become India's most successful Test skipper. It came after the Indian team recorded its 28th win under Kohli's leadership in the second and final test against the West Indies at Kingston.

  • The 28 wins have come from 48 matches for Kohli as captain. His predecessor Dhoni led India to 27 wins from 60 Test matches during his tenure. SouravGanguly with 21 wins and Mohammad Azharuddin with 14 wins are third and fourth in the list of successful Indian Test skippers.

  • Overall, former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith remains the most successful skipper in the world with 53 Test wins, followed by ex-Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who recorded 48 Test wins in his captaincy tenure.

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