Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 11 August 2019

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 state.

  • 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 seeds.

  • 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 well.

  • “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 official.


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 time.

  • 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. this year.

  • While direct exports to Pakistan (of cotton) has stopped, indirect exports might continue, he said.

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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 tensions there.

  • 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.


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 microbiological assays.

  • 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 analysis.

  • Prof. Iyer said the need to administer emergency treatment fuelled the development of the device, which is faster and easier than conventional methods.


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 Aliev tournament.

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