Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 August 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 August 2019


::NATIONAL::

Pakistan suspends bilateral trade with India afterrevoking article 370

  • Pakistan on Wednesday expelled the Indian High Commissioner and suspended bilateral trade in response to New Delhi’s decision to end the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

  • The decisions were taken at a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan at his office in Islamabad. Foreign Minister Shah MehmoodQureshi read out the NSC decisions, while addressing a joint session of Parliament.

  • On Tuesday, while addressing Parliament, Mr. Khan had warned that India’s decision could trigger more violent incidents in Kashmir. He had also said Pakistan decided not to pursue talks with India after having realised that it was not interested in them.

  • Political analyst MosharrafZaidi says the NSC decisions represent Pakistan’s effort to express its rejection of India’s altering of the status of Kashmir.

  • “Unlike India, it shows that Pakistan remains committed to bilateral and regional peace. But the patience of Pakistan’s leaders does not mean Pakistanis will fall in line. India’s leaders need to take actions to de-escalate tensions and ensure that there is no further brutality in Kashmir,” Mr.Zaidi told.

Centre unveils draft plan for coastal zone management

  • The Environment Ministry has unveiled a draft plan that will dictate how prospective infrastructure projects situated along the coast ought to be assessed before they can apply for clearance.

  • The draft Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) is part of a World Bank-funded project.The document lays down guidelines for coastal States to adopt when they approve and regulate projects in coastal zones.

  • Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) has to be a continuous process rather than a “one-off” investment action, the report said.

  • So far three coastal States, namely Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal, have prepared Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plans with support from the World Bank.Such plans would be prepared for the selected coastal stretches in other States/UT, the project notes.

  • The key activities proposed for coastal zone development that consist of investments by States include: mangrove afforestation/shelter beds, habitat conservation activities such as restoration of sea-grass meadows, eco-restoration of sacred groves, development of hatcheries, rearing/rescue centres for turtles and other marine animals, creation of infrastructure for tourism, restoration and recharge of water bodies, beach cleaning and development, and other small infrastructure facilities.

::ECONOMY::

Post policy rate change, rupee sees high volatility against dollar

  • The Rupee witnessed high volatility and slipped towards 71 level after the Reserve Bank of India on August 7 cut key interest rate by 35 basis points to boost the slowing economy.

  • The Rupee had opened on a weak note at 70.92 at the interbank Forex market, then fell further to 70.99 against the U.S. Dollar. The domestic currency was trading at 70.91 at 1215 hrs, down 10 paise over its last close.

  • Following the RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decision, the local currency witnessed heavy volatility. It fell to a low of 70.99 and a high of 70.88 within minutes of RBI policy decision.

  • The RBI also revised real GDP growth for 2019-20 downwards to 6.9% from 7 % in the June policy. Meanwhile, brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, fell 0.29% to $58.77 per barrel, as U.S.-China trade dispute rattled investor sentiments.

  • Meanwhile, on the global front investors fretted as dispute between two of the world’s largest economies intensified over tariffs and currency.

  • China has meanwhile reported to have said that it is halting new purchases of U.S. agricultural products after President Trump vowed last week to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods starting in September.

RBI to make NEFT facilities to customers round the clock

  • The Reserve Bank of India today announced that the National Electronic Funds Transfer(NEFT) facility will be available round-the-clock for the customers.

  • Speaking at a press conference after the release of the third bi-monthly policy statement, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said the RBI will make available the NEFT system on a 24x7 basis from December 2019.

  • Currently, NEFT payment system operated by the Reserve Bank as a retail payment system is available for customers from 8 AM to 7 PM on all working days of the week except 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month.

  • Addressing the media, the RBI Governor said that the RBI has also decided to create a central payments fraud information registry system to deal banking frauds adding that the details of the same will be shared later.

  • The RBI Governor further said in order to leverage the advantages of the Bharat Bill Payment System and harness its full potential, it has been decided to permit all categories of billers (except prepaid recharges) who provide for recurring bill payments to participate in BBPS on a voluntary basis.

  • The BBPS, an inter operable platform for repetitive bill payments, currently covers five segments that are direct-to-home, electricity, gas, telecom and water bills.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

UN signs UN convention on international settlement agreements

  • India on Wednesday signed a key UN convention on international settlement agreements, even as experts called for local laws to support the treaty’s implementation in business contracts.

  • The United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements (UNISA) was signed by India’s High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf, representing the Government of India. 46 countries signed the treaty named Singapore Convention on Mediation.

  • Singapore Minister of Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam appreciated the strong support shown by the 70 countries represented at the signing ceremony.

  • He highlighted the participation by the world’s three largest economies the USA, China and India.

  • “On the ease of doing business, as for the legal front, we are up by 50 per cent just by signing this convention and it is a dramatic jump,” said Mr.Panchu, a member of the National Legal Service Authority, India.

  • A number of UN member countries, both the convention signatories and the ones yet to sign, will need domestic laws supporting the mediation agreements within their respective jurisdictions, he said.

  • So as to expedite the implementation of the treaty in each signatory country, the convention has a model law that can be adopted, according to experts at the convention.

U.S seeks more funds for providing protection to South Korea

  • U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his administration is in talks with South Korea to pay “substantially more” for protection against North Korea, with tensions rising on the Korean peninsula.

  • “Over the past many decades, the U.S. has been paid very little by South Korea, but last year, at the request of President Trump, South Korea paid $990,000,000,” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter.

  • “Talks have begun to further increase payments to the U.S. South Korea is a very wealthy nation that now feels an obligation to contribute to the military defence provided by the U.S. The relationship between the two countries is a very good one!”

  • The two countries have been in a security alliance since the 1950-53 Korean war, which ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty — with more than 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in the South to guard against threats from Pyongyang.

  • But Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained about the expense of keeping U.S. forces on the peninsula.Seoul said in February it had agreed to hike its payment for maintaining American troops on its soil from $850 million to $924 million in 2019 — 8.2 percent more than what it offered under a previous five-year pact which expired at the end of last year.

  • Meanwhile the US government has approved the sale of 12 multi-mission Seahawk helicopters to South Korea worth 800 million US dollar.

  • The helicopters bolster anti-surface and anti-submarine missions and can handle secondary missions like replenishment, search and rescue and communications relay.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Mexican cactus becomes good alternative to plastic

  • Mexico’s prickly pear cactus, which is emblazoned on the country’s flag, could soon play a new and innovative role in the production of biodegradable plastics.

  • A packaging material that is made from the plant has been developed by a Mexican researcher and is offering a promising solution to one of the world’s biggest pollution conundrums.

  • That substance is then mixed with non-toxic additives and stretched to produce sheets that are coloured with pigments and folded to form different types of packaging.

  • Given the rampant production of industrial plastics and the time it takes to make her material, there would need to be “other recycling strategies” to make any concrete difference, an expert said.

  • In March, UN member states committed to “significantly reduce” single-use plastics over the next decade, although green groups warned that goal fell short of tackling the Earth’s pollution crisis.

::SPORTS::

Mary Kom and Lovlina selected for world boxing championships

  • Six-time world champion M C Mary Kom and LovlinaBorgohain have been selected for the upcoming women's world boxing championships based on their recent performances.

  • The 36-year-old Mary Kom, who has already claimed two gold medals this year India Open and a recent tournament in Indonesia, has been selected in the 51kg category. World and Asian bronze-medallist Borgohain will be competing in the 69kg category.

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