Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 12 October 2018
As part of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma; around 900 prisoners freed
- More than 900 prisoners were released from prisons across India
under an amnesty scheme announced as part of the year-long celebrations to
mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi beginning October 2, the
Home Ministry said on Thursday.
- Women convicts aged 55 and above and male convicts of 60 years or
more, who have served half of their sentence, and a few other categories of
prisoners were eligible for the amnesty scheme announced by the Union
Cabinet on July 18.
- In the week-long first phase of special remission to prisoners,
the States and Union Territories, after obtaining the approval of the
competent authority in their jurisdictions, have released more than 900
prisoners, a Home Ministry statement said.
- Physically challenged or disabled convicts with 70 per cent
disability and more who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence
period, terminally-ill convicts, convicted prisoners who have completed
two-third (66 per cent) of their actual sentence period are also eligible
under the scheme.
- Special remission scheme is not available to prisoners who have
been convicted for an offence for which the sentence awarded is death or
where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment, and in cases of
convicts involved in serious and heinous crimes such as dowry death, rape,
human trafficking and convicted under POTA, UAPA, TADA, FICN, POCSO Act,
Money Laundering, FEMA, NDPS, Prevention of Corruption Act etc.
Global hunger Index report worries India
- At least one in five Indian children under the age of five are
wasted, which means they have extremely low weight for their height,
reflecting acute under-nutrition, according to the Global Hunger Index 2018.
The only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn
nation of South Sudan, says the report, which was released on Thursday.
- Overall, India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the
Index, with hunger levels in the country categorised as “serious”. India’s
ranking has dropped three places from last year, although the Index says its
results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides
a few reference years for comparable data.
- Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical
public health emergency”, according to UN organisations. The report notes
that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months, suggesting
that attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important.
- The report notes that in South Asia, “maternal BMI and access to
improved water and sanitation are more closely associated with rates of
child wasting than household wealth, suggesting that a reduction in poverty
alone may not be sufficient to correct the problem…Factors that could reduce
child stunting in South Asia include increased consumption of non-staple
foods, access to sanitation, women’s education, access to safe water, gender
equality, and national food availability.”
- Globally, the level of hunger still falls into the “serious”
category, despite improvement over the last two decades. The Index projects
that at the current rate of progress, 50 countries will fail to reach the
“low” hunger category by 2030. This puts the UN’s Sustainable Development
Goal 2, which aims to end hunger by 2030, in jeopardy, says the report.
FC chairman says special category status not part of its terms of reference
- Grant of ‘Special Category Status’ to states is out of purview of
the Ṭerms of Reference of Finance Commission, said Chairman of Finance
Commission Shri N.K.Singh .
- Responding to the questions from the media, he stated that the
issue was forcefully raised by the Chief Minister but it would be a
transgression of the Presidential Notification by the Commission if it
considers the issue of Special Category as it does not figure in its Terms
of Reference. Philosophy of Special Category Status never emanated from any
Finance Commission but from the resolution of erstwhile National Development
- The Commission believes that current initiatives of the state govt
are credible, timely and speedy and for a prosperous India, prosperous
Andhra Pradesh is must. He lauded the contribution of Andhra Pradesh to the
national GDP and said that it will do everything possible in constitutional
framework to realise the state’s potential.
- On the question of populist schemes, he said that Commission will
have to delve deeper into it. There are many schemes which have become
popular with significant outcomes, and at the same time, there are many
which result in sub-optimal outcomes. On the question of using population
census 2011, he said that it has been mentioned in the TOR and Commission
will look into the ways of incentivising the states who have done well in
controlling their population.
- 15th Finance Commission which concludes its 4 day visit to Andhra
Pradesh on Friday, also sought views of the representatives from various
political parties. Meeting with representatives of local bodies and trade
and industry will be held tomorrow.
IMF chief warns currency wars detrimental to growth
- International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine
Lagarde on Thursday warned countries of the perils of a trade or a currency
war, saying they could be detrimental to global growth and hurt ”innocent
- “We certainly hope we don’t move in either direction of a trade
war or a currency war. It will be detrimental on both accounts for all
participants,” Ms. Lagarde told a news conference during the annual meetings
of the IMF and World Bank in Indonesian resort island of Bali.
- China and the United States have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs over
the past few months, rattling financial markets as investors worried the
escalating trade war could knock global trade and investment.
- On recent yuan declines, Ms. Lagarde said they were mainly driven
by the strength of the dollar, noting that it has not depreciated as much
against a basket of currencies.
- The yuan currency has faced strong selling pressure this year,
losing over 8% between March and August at the height of market worries,
though it has since pared losses as authorities stepped up support.
- A U.S. Treasury official on Monday repeated that the Trump
administration was concerned about the yuans recent weakening as the
department prepares a semi-annual report on currency manipulation due out
- Ms. Lagarde urged China to follow through on the IMF’s
recommendation to continue moving toward a system that allows the yuan to
Improved connectivity boosts bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh
- Bangladesh is sending a strong buyer delegation to India during
the upcoming Indus Food-II to be held in January, 2019, in Greater Noida,
organized jointly with Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and
- CEO, IBCCI said that trade growth depends on the developmental
progress of Bangladesh. He further said that Bangladesh is growing and hence
trade is increasing with India and the rest of the world. India being an
immediate neighbour with whom Bangladesh not only shares a long border but
also culture, traditions and language will be looking towards India to
import the items it needs.
- Fresh fruits going from India to Bangladesh are: mangoes, grapes,
pomegranates and apples. Among other F&B products, there is still great
scope for added export of dried, shelled chickpeas, fresh or chilled onions
and shallots, food preparations, cumin seeds, fresh grapes, semi-milled or
wholly milled rice, black fermented tea and partly fermented tea, turmeric
and cane sugar.
- Improved connectivity between the two countries will help a lot in
developing trade further. Till only a sometime back, maximum trade between
India and Bangladesh was routed through ports in Singapore. The traditional
river waterways that connected various cities in Bangladesh to India were
operational till 1965.
- The recent thrust to rebuild those waterways and develop new
routes to ease connectivity will not only be in the interest of bilateral
trade between India and Bangladesh, but will also help Indian mainland to
connect better with its own North Eastern States.
Indians top amongst U.K overstayers
- India accounts for the largest number of individuals staying in
the U.K. illegally, and the number of those subjected to forced returns to
India has fallen by 50% in three years, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth
Office has said.
- The problem of “visa overstayers” was highlighted by the
department in its submission to a British parliamentary committee’s “Global
Britain and India’ inquiry into post-Brexit relations with India.
- The focus on overstayers is significant, suggesting that there is
little sign of change on an issue that has overshadowed bilateral
relationships. Tensions came to a head earlier this year when Britain’s
Trade Secretary Liam Fox linked the decision on excluding Indians from a
relaxation of student visa requirements to cooperation between the two
countries on the return of illegal migrants, including India’s failure to
sign an MOU with the U.K. on the issue during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
visit in April.
- Subsequently, Indian High Commissioner Y.K. Sinha questioned
Britain’s focus and stance on overstayers. “I am sure there are many [overstayers]
but where did this figure of 100,000 come from?” he said in June.
- Backing his concerns, the think tank Chatham House, in its
submission to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry,
pointed to Britain’s visa regime for Indians as one of the key impediments
to its relationship and highlighted U.K.’s emphasis on overstayers.
- The “Global Britain and India’ inquiry, which is looking at
opportunities for cooperation with India beyond Brexit, took written
evidence till late September and has been holding evidence sessions this
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
PM to launch Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
- The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today attended, and
delivered an address at the event to mark the launch of the Centre for the
Fourth Industrial Revolution.
- He said the components of “Industry 4.0” actually have the ability
to transform the present and future of human life. He said the launch of
this Centre, the fourth in the world after San Francisco, Tokyo and Beijing,
opens the door to immense possibilities in the future.
- He said emerging fields, including Artificial Intelligence,
Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Blockchain, and Big Data, can take
India to new heights of development, and improve the quality of life of its
citizens. He said that for India, this is not just an industrial
transformation, but a social transformation.
- He said Industry 4.0 has the strength to drive irreversible
positive change in India. He added that it will help bring the required
speed and scale to work being done in India.
- The Prime Minister mentioned how the Digital India movement has
brought data to villages of India. He explained how tele-density, internet
coverage, and mobile internet subscriptions have increased in the recent
past. He spoke of the rapid growth in number of Common Service Centres in
- The Prime Minister expressed confidence that India would be able
to take advantage of the fourth Industrial Revolution. He added that India
would also make an immense contribution to it. He said that Government
initiatives including Skill India Mission, Start Up India, and Atal
Innovation Mission are preparing our youth for new and emerging
Power bat launched to enhance fan experience
- V.V.S. Laxman, Abhinav Mukund, Robin Uthappa and Ian Bishop spoke
about the benefits of Power Bat, a tool that provides players, coaches,
commentators, fans and viewers a completely new and unique way to engage
with cricket and improve their game.
- Spektacom Technologies, start-up by former India leg-spinner Anil
Kumble, Microsoft Corp and broadcast partner Star India introduced the
product at the Star India studio on Thursday.
- The Power Bat is powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud platform
using AI and Internet of Things (IoT) services.
- Power Bat is a unique concept whereby a lightweight, Azure
Sphere-powered sticker is stuck on the shoulder of the bat.
- As soon as the batsman hits the ball, data on different parameters
(speed, twist, and quality of the shot) are captured in a new unit of
measurement titled Power Speks.
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