Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 07 JANUARY 2018


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 07 JANUARY 2019


::NATIONAL::

Centre reiterates commitment on research and development

  •  The Union Minister of Human Resource Development, ShriPrakashJavadekar has said that only the research work in various fields can pave way for innovations in the country.
  •  He said that it is the research only which helps countries to overcome problems of any type in any field and that’s why the research work is being strengthened and given top priority by the union government.
  •  Talking about the slogan of “Jai Anusandhan” given by the Prime Minister ShriNarendraModi in the inaugural session of the 106th Indian Science Congress, he said, “This shows the commitment of the Centre towards the research and innovations. The NDA government had carved out a fund of Rs 200 Crore this year for the innovative solutions and 1000 colleges across the country are being equipped with innovation hubs.
  •  ShriPrakashJavadekar also mentioned the problems faced by the country and gave clarion call to the women to come forward and join science stream to resolve social and economic problems. He said union government had set up a fund under Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) to provide assistance to the research laboratories.
  •  This year ministry is spending nearly Rs 33,000 Crore for this purpose while to encourage social science research Rs 250 Crore has been earmarked. He said the major project of the government is SPARK which was launched to assist and encourage students to carry on their ambitious research projects within India instead of going abroad.
  •  He also said country cannot make progress unless the science laboratories and research work are strengthened. With this motive the government has established six research parks in different IIT’s of country where students and teachers are doing their research work.

Study reveals west Bengal tribals suffering from extreme food scarcity

  •  Two months after the West Bengal government denied any food scarcity as a possible cause of death of seven persons from a tribal community, a survey report has identified “food scarcity in varying degrees” in about 31% of tribal households in West Bengal.
  •  The study titled ‘An Inquiry into the world of the Adivasis of West Bengal’, conducted by Professor AmartyaSen’sPratichi Institute and Asiatic Society, will be released in Kolkata on Monday.
  •  The survey was conducted in 1,000 tribal households to ascertain living conditions, health and education.
  •  West Bengal is home to a over five million tribals, with 6% of the India’s tribal population of 100 million. But in many areas, tribals of the State are “far behind” in terms of human development. One area, which has been a matter of contention in recent months after the death of seven tribals in a span of 15 days in November, is scarcity of food.
  •  The preliminary survey report claimed that “nearly one third [31%] of the surveyed households” reportedly faced “food scarcity in varying degrees” in the past year.
  •  The report indicated that the number of deaths reported to have occurred in the surveyed households, in the year preceding the survey, “was 52, among which 48 [92%] were premature deaths” and only four were due to old age.
  •  The work participation rate [WPR] is higher among the Adivasis in Bengal “forcing the children of schoolgoing age to discontinue their studies in order to fend [for] themselves and support the families,” the report noted.

::ECONOMY::

Finance ministry quotes good savings due to Aadhar implementation

  •  The Rs. 90,000-crore savings from the implementation of Aadhaar is enough to fund three schemes the size of Ayushman Bharat, Finance Minister ArunJaitley wrote in a blog post on Sunday.
  •  “The government estimates that Rs. 90,000 crore have been saved in the past few years till March 2018 by the use of Aadhaar,” Mr.Jaitley said.
  •  “Several duplicate beneficiaries, non-existent beneficiaries and fake beneficiaries have been eliminated. The Digital Dividend Report prepared by the World Bank estimates that India can save Rs. 77,000 crore every year by the use of Aadhaar.”
  •  Mr.Jaitley said that in the past 28 months, more than 122 croreAadhaar numbers had been issued, covering 99% of India’s population above the age of 18.
  •  22.80 crore of PAHAL and Ujjwala beneficiaries are given cooking gas subsidies through DBT in their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts. 58.24 crore ration card holders stand linked. 10.33 crore MGNREGA card holders get wage payment through DBT in their bank accounts.
  •  So do the 1.93 crore beneficiaries and other beneficiaries of the national social assistance programme. The Income Tax Department has already linked 21 crore PAN card holders with their Aadhaar numbers.
  •  Mr.Jaitley said 63.52 crore bank accounts had been linked with the unique identity as of December 15, 2018. The number of subsidy transactions are about 425 crore. The total subsidies transferred through Aadhaar now equal Rs. 1,69,868crore, he said.

Expert panel claims GST can boost tax collection

  •  The fact that the government is increasingly dependent on tax revenue, especially indirect taxes, to meet its fiscal requirements is not a cause for worry, according to tax analysts, who say that the real benefits of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have not yet taken effect. Once they do, government revenue from both direct and indirect taxes will grow significantly.
  •  An analysis by The Hindu of the budget documents of the last five years has shown that the government’s dependence on tax revenue has steadily increased, with tax revenue making up a little more than 70% of its total receipts in 2018-19, up from 65% in 2014-15.
  •  Correspondingly, the share of revenue from non-tax sources (such as dividends from PSUs and the RBI) and capital receipts (such as disinvestment proceeds) has been declining.
  •  The view among tax analysts is that the government cannot take the risk of increasing tax rates, whether direct or indirect, for fear of a backlash from the public. So, the only option it has to boost tax revenues is to increase the tax base and stop evasion, both of which the government has been trying to do.
  •  The other trend the government would be banking on is that increased economic activity and a higher GDP growth rate will boost consumption and hence, indirect tax collections, other analysts say.
  •  Despite this optimistic outlook of future growth in tax revenue, the government has also been trying to improve its collections from other sources such as dividends from public sector companies and the Reserve Bank of India, and also through disinvestments.
  •  The analysis of budget data shows that PSU dividends as a proportion of non-tax revenue have been growing over the years, from 16% in 2014-15 to 21.4% in 2018-19. The government has reportedly been pressurising the state-run oil companies to transfer larger dividends to the Centre every year.
  •  It is also reportedly asking the state-run oil companies to buy back shares, and is also pushing more PSUs to list on the stock exchanges.
  •  However, this is an untenable source of revenue for the government because they are based on finite resources.Notably, dividends from the RBI, as a proportion of non-tax revenue, have been falling.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Norwegian PM arrives in Delhi to boost cooperation

  •  Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg has arrived in New Delhi on a three-day state visit to India. She was accompanied by senior officials from her government and a large business delegation. She will participate in the Indo-Norwegian Business Conference.
  •  Tomorrow, Ms Solberg will be accorded ceremonial reception at RashtrapatiBhavan. She will hold talks with Prime Minister NarendraModi. She will also call on President Ram NathKovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. External Affairs Minister SushmaSwaraj will call on the visiting dignitary.
  •  The Norwegian Prime Minister will deliver the Inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue.
  •  The visit of Prime Minister of Norway will provide an opportunity to review the progress in bilateral cooperation between the two countries and discuss ways to further expand the multifaceted partnership in areas of common interest.
  •  India and Norway enjoy close and multifaceted ties and economic and technical cooperation are important facets of the bilateral relation. More than 100 Norwegian companies have invested in India in areas such as ship-building, petroleum related services, hydropower, clean energy and IT services. Several major Indian companies are also present in Norway.
  •  India and Norway have shared the interest in sustainable use of ocean resources for the growth of the economies

U.S – North Korea next meeting under discussion

  •  President Donald Trump said on Sunday that negotiations are under way on the location of his next summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, while remaining evasive on its timing.
  •  “We are negotiating a location,” he told reporters before boarding a helicopter for the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, where he said he would be discussing a trade deal with China. “It will be announced probably in the not too distant future,” he said of a summit with Mr. Kim. “They do want to meet and we want to meet and we’ll see what happens.”
  •  He also stood firm on his demand for billions of dollars to fund a border wall with Mexico, claiming “tremendous” support inside his camp on the contentious issue which has forced a government shutdown now entering its third week.
  •  He also confirmed through a tweet that the U.S. military has killed one of the architects of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that left 17 American servicemen dead.
  •  “Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi.”

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

New research reveals ISS members could grow beans by 2021

  •  After cultivating lettuce in space three years ago, crew members aboard the International Space Station could be growing beans in 2021, new research suggests.
  •  The beans could be planted in high-tech planters developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).The planters can regulate all the water, nutrients, gas and air the plants need.
  •  NTNU said it was collaborating with Italian and French researchers in their quest to cultivate plant-based food for long space journeys.The food grown in space could be crucial to sustain the crew in future deep space missions.
  •  The longest stays at the International Space Station have been six months, while people travelling to Mars will need to be prepared to stay in space for at least a year.
  •  In the study, published in the journal Life , the researchers performed three experiments — the first two experiments determined the effect of restricted rooting and nutrient solution volumes, and based on this a third experiment was performed to assess plant responses to various nitrate nutrient solution concentrations.
  •  The next step is to grow beans in space to observe the effect of no gravity on plants’ ability to transport water and absorb nutrients. Simulating the absence of gravity cannot be done on Earth.
  •  The beans would be placed in a centrifuge to sprout and grow in the space station. The centrifuge would be rotated to create different amounts of gravity.

::SPORTS::

India thrashes Thailand in AFC opener

  •  In Football, India made a thrilling start in the opening encounter at the AFC Asian Cup campaign defeating Thailand 4-1 at Abu Dhabi last evening. Captain Sunil Chettri scored twice, while AnirudhThapa and Jeje were other scorers for India.
  •  At halftime, India and Thailand were at the level score of one goal each. This is India’s fourth Asian Cup appearance, having last appeared in the 2011 edition of the tournament.
     

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