Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 11 August 2019
Heavy rescue & relief operations underway in Kerala,
Maharashtra & Karnataka
Rescue and relief operations are being carried out on a war
footing in rain and flood-hit Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra. A red has
been issued in 8 districts of Kerala.
Official sources said 42 people have died due to heavy rain and
landslides. Over one lakh people are taking shelter in relief camps in the
In Karnataka, Union Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman reviewed
the situation in the rain and flood-hit areas of Belagavi and Bagalkote. She
assured flood victims of all assistance from the Central Government.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi who visited
rain-affected areas in Dharwad district informed that the Centre has released
200 crore rupees to the state disaster relief fund.
Addressing media persons in Bengaluru, Chief Minister B S
Yeddiyurappa informed that 24 people have died due to rain which also displaced
two to four lakh people in over one thousand villages in 16 districts.
Saying that 6000 crore rupees is the preliminary figure of loss
due to floods and rain, he said the state has sought immediate relief of 3000
crore rupees for taking up rehabilitation work.
Centre to make seed certification mandatory
More than half of all seeds sold in India are not certified
by any proper testing agency, and are often of poor quality.
The Centre now hopes to mandate uniform certification by pushing
through a replacement to the Seeds Act, 1966, in the winter session of
Parliament, and also by barcoding all seeds to ensure their traceability.
This could increase overall agricultural productivity by up to
25%, Agriculture Ministry officials say.
The main aim of the new legislation, which is ready for
submission to the Cabinet for approval, is to bring uniformity to the process of
quality regulation. The 1966 Act starts with these words: “An Act to provide for
regulating the quality of certain seeds for sale.”
The new Bill removes the word “certain”, and aims to regulate
the quality of all seeds sold in the country, as well as exported and imported
The Centre also hopes to roll out a software to barcode seeds in
order to ensure transparency and traceability. “The National Informatics Centre
has been collaborating with the Agriculture Ministry for this Rs. 5 crore
project and the first prototype will be ready by the end of the month.
The software system will be able to track seeds through the
testing, certification and manufacturing process. By connecting to a dealer
licensing system, seeds will be tracked through the distribution process as
“Once it is all in place in about two years or so, we will even
be able to say how much of which seed is sold in which area,” said the senior
Government releases draft national logistics policy
The draft National Logistics Policy, released by the
government earlier this year, has overlooked the role of the express
industry (courier and parcel) and air cargo sectors in the multimodal
transport mix for faster and cost effective movement of cargo, Express
Industry Council of India (EICI) said.
“We note that the policy document does not focus on the express
industry and air cargo sectors, which are integral parts of the logistics
network. The air express has also been overlooked in the multimodal mix even
though air is an essential segment of the movement of goods,” Vijay Kumar, chief
operating officer, EICI, said in a statement.
He said in developing countries such as India, an efficient air
express infrastructure could contribute directly to global competitiveness of
the country by ensuring just-in-time deliveries and reducing clearance dwell
The government had issued the draft national logistics policy
with a target to bring down logistics costs from 13-14% of GDP to 10% “in line
with best-in-class global standards.”
For the air cargo sector, aviation turbine fuel (ATF) is the
single largest component of direct operating cost with a share of 40%.
Excise duty and value-added tax, charged by central and State
governments on ATF, add another 30-35% to the cost.
Making the matter worse, the GST regime disallows input credit
on ATF, increasing the tax burden on express cargo airlines further, EICI said.
Pakistan trade ban to affect Indian textile industry
Pakistan’s move to stop import of products from India or of
Indian origin is not expected to have much impact on the Indian textile
industry, said Siddhartha Rajagopal, executive director of the Cotton
Textiles Export Promotion Council.
Pakistan imports mainly yarn and cotton from India. However, in
recent years, Indian exporters have slowed down their supply to Pakistan.
Between April and June this year, $38 million worth of cotton yarn was exported
to Pakistan as against $42 million for the same period last year. The annual
yarn exports to Pakistan are about $100 million and it was mostly the low count
yarns, Mr.Rajagopal said.
The Indian exporters, who are already facing a drop in cotton
yarn exports, will have to look at other markets.
Chairman of the Cotton Association of India AtulGanatra said
India exported only four lakh bales of cotton to Pakistan this year as Indian
cotton prices were relatively higher. Pakistan purchased mainly from the U.S.
While direct exports to Pakistan (of cotton) has stopped,
indirect exports might continue, he said.
Israel-Palestine clash near Jerusalem holy site
Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers clashed at a
Jerusalem holy site as overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays led to
Police fired sound grenades as Palestinian protests intensified
at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount. The Palestinian
Red Crescent reported injuries without specifying a number.
Today marks the start of the Muslim Eid-ul-Azha holiday and
thousands of Palestinians prayed at the Al-Aqsa mosque. It coincides with the
Jewish TishaB'av holiday, which typically sees an increase in Jewish visits to
the holy site.
In a bid to ease tensions, police barred Jewish visits to the
site today but Muslim worshippers still feared they would be allowed in and
protested there. The clashes with police broke out afterwards.
The compound, which includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the
Rock, is a sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is the
third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred for Jews, who are allowed to
visit but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions.
Trump –Kim denuclearisation talks to begin after its military
drills with south
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that North
Korean leader Kim Jong-un wants to resume denuclearisation talks after
U.S.-South Korean war games end.
Mr. Trump tweeted that in a letter to him, Mr. Kim apologised
for a recent spate of missile tests, the latest of which came at daybreak on
Saturday Korean time, and said they were to protest these joint military drills.
Mr. Trump said he looks “forward to seeing Kim Jong-un in the
not too distant future!” “In a letter to me sent by Kim Jong-un, he stated, very
nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint
U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over,” Mr. Trump wrote.
The exercises began on Monday and are due to last another week.
North Korea has said the recent short-range missile tests are designed to
protest the war games.
Mr. Trump has appeared determined to secure a denuclearisation
agreement with North Korea ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential elections,
despite faltering talks since he first met Mr. Kim in a historic ice-breaking
summit in Singapore in June 2018.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Indian researchers develop hand held device to detect bacteria
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology - Guwahati
(IIT-G) have developed a low-cost handheld biocompatible sensor that can
detect bacteria almost instantaneously — without cell culture and
The device will enable rapid detection of bacteria, which is
important not only in healthcare but also in anti-bioterrorism measures and
environmental monitoring applications, lead researchers Parameswar K. Iyer and
Siddhartha S. Ghosh said.
The new device does not require cell culture and microbiological
analyses, and it distinguishes between gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria
almost immediately, he added.
At present, the detection of bacteria in body fluids is done in
laboratories. The cells that are derived from the patient are initially cultured
or grown so that enough of the bacterial cells are available for microbiological
Prof. Iyer said the need to administer emergency treatment
fuelled the development of the device, which is faster and easier than
BajrangPunia wins gold in Tbilisi Grand Prix
India's top two wrestlers continued their impressive run
this season with BajrangPunia defending his title at Tbilisi Grand Prix and
VineshPhogat reaching her fourth final at Medved event.
Bajrang, who had won a gold at the same event last year as well,
prevailed 2-0 over Iran's PeimanBibyani in the 65 Kilogram category final of the
men's free style competition in the capital city of Georgia.
It is fourth gold of the season for the Asian Games champion
Bajrang after standing atop the podium at Dan Kolov, Asian Championship and Ali
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