Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 13 May 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 13 June 2019

::NATIONAL::

Centre approves Aadhaar amendment bill

  •  Union Cabinet has approved the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2019 to replace Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2019.
  •  This will enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhar. After the amendment, no individual will be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament.
  •  For the convenience of the general public in the opening of bank accounts, the proposed amendments will allow the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on a voluntary basis as an acceptable KYC document. The Bill will be introduced in the ensuing session of Parliament.
  •  Giving a major push to reforms in the education sector, Cabinet has approved the introduction of Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Bill 2019.
  •  Briefing media in New Delhi last evening, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said it will allow filling up of more than 7,000 existing vacancies by direct recruitment in Teachers' cadre.
  •  The amendment will also ensure providing 10 per cent reservation to Economically weaker section. The move is expected to improve the teaching standards in the higher educational institutions by attracting all eligible talented candidates belonging to SCs, STs, Socially and Educationally Backward Classes and economically weaker section.

NIRDPR launches training programmes for sustainable development

  •  The Hyderabad based National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) has launched a training programme of Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC) to help Rural Poor Farm Holds adapt to Climate Change and sustain their livelihoods.
  •  The impact of Climate Change on farmers, especially small and marginal ones is high in any part of the country. If the affected areas are flood-prone and drought-prone, the impact is enormous.
  •  The National Institute has taken up training the first batch Climate-Smart Community Resource Persons so that they help the community at the grassroots level to combat the impact of climate change.
  •  The Course Coordinator and Head of the Centre for Climate Change and Disaster Mitigation, Dr. Ravindra S. Gavali says the training will help improve the adaptive capacity of the community especially the poor engaged in farm-based livelihoods to cope with climate change.
  •  Total 638 drought and flood-prone villages of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are being covered on pilot basis under this first of its kind initiative.

::ECONOMY::

Industry output rebounds to six month high

  •  Industrial activity rebounded in April 2019 to grow to a six-month high of 3.4%, driven by a turnaround across all the sectors measured, according to official data released on Wednesday.
  •  Separate data release showed retail inflation in May 2019 accelerated marginally to 3.05% driven by a slight rise in food price inflation.
  •  Growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) returned to positive territory in April following a contraction of 0.1% in March. Within the index, growth in the manufacturing sector stood at 2.8% in April compared with a contraction of 0.4% in the previous month. Mining sector saw growth accelerating to 5.1% from 0.8% over the same period.
  •  Retail inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) quickened to a seven-month high of 3.05% in May 2019, up marginally from the 2.99% registered in the previous month.
  •  Within the index, inflation in the ‘food and beverages’ segment accelerated to 2.03% from 1.38% over the same period. The fuel and light segment, however, saw inflation easing somewhat to 2.48% in May from 2.56% in the previous month. ‘Pan, tobacco, and other intoxicants’ and the ‘clothing and footwear’ segments, saw inflation easing marginally in May.

Downgrading of debt instruments on a high

  •  The recent downgrades of debt papers of well-known conglomerates are not isolated instances as the current year has seen a record in terms of the number of such downgrades of debt instruments.
  •  Data from Prime Database shows there have already been 163 instances of such downgrades in the current year till date, which is more than twice compared to last year when 61 instances of downgrades were witnessed.
  •  Some of the well known corporates whose debt papers have been downgraded in 2019 by rating agencies include Yes Bank, Wockhardt, Diligent Media Corp, Eveready Industries, Jet Airways and Peninsula Land apart from the prominent ones like Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group entities, Essel Group and the most recent instance of Dewan Housing Finance.
  •  This year, there have been 87 instances of rating upgrade, lower than last year when over 100 debt securities saw an upgrade. “There has been a large number of downgrades in the recent months,” said R. Sivakumar, head, fixed income, Axis Mutual Fund.
  •  “Till a few months back the spread between a AA and AAA rated instrument had dipped to 50 basis points, which was quite lower than the historical average. While currently it is around 150 basis points, the challenge is downgrades have increased thereby pushing up the risk curve,” said Mr. Sivakumar.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

North Korea demands end of U.S hostility within a year

  •  North Korea today called on the US to roll back it's, what Pyongyang called hostile policy. The development comes a day before the first anniversary of a summit between its North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
  •  North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the joint statement from the Singapore meeting of what the country termed of great historical significance is now on the verge of turning into a dead document as the US shuns its implementation. It termed the policy as arrogant and unilateral adding that the US would never work with North Korea.
  •  The first-ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US President took place in June last year in Singapore, where Mr Kim and Mr Trump signed a deal to achieve complete denuclearisation.
  •  But a second meeting in Vietnam in February ended abruptly as the two failed to agree on what the North would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.

Abudhabi prince discusses issues with Russia

  •  Amidst simmering tension in the Arab region , the Russian President Vladimir Putin today called Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
  •  Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in a tweet said that he had received a phone call from the Russian President. He said, they discussed cooperation and key regional and international issues of mutual interest as well as recent regional developments.
  •  The Emirates News Agency reported that the two leaders reviewed the latest regional and international developments, with special emphasis on the current situation in the Gulf region as well as other issues of common interest.
  •  UAE , Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Norway in a briefing to the UN Security Council last week had said that the sabotage attack behind the four oil tankers off the Fujairah coast is most likely a handiwork of a state actor, pointing fingers at Iran , without naming the country.
  •  The US has accused Iran of being behind the attacks but Tehran denies this and has called for an investigation.
  •  Earlier , the decision of Iran to partially withdraw from the nuclear deal last month in retaliation to the sanctions imposed by the US has led to the military escalation in the region riding on the fear of Tehran’s nuclear ambition.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

DRDO tests hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle

  •  The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Wednesday conducted the maiden test of an indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) along with several technologies on Wednesday morning.
  •  The missile was successfully launched at 1127 hours and it was tracked by various radars, telemetry stations and electro optical tracking sensors through its course, the MoD added.
  •  The test was undertaken to validate several technologies including the HSTDV, a Defence source said. “Some technologies have been validated while some remained inconclusive of which the data is being analysed,” the source added.
  •  In the test, a missile with the technology demonstrator vehicle mounted on it is launched and the vehicle is released only after the missile reaches a certain altitude and velocity, one official explained.
  •  Former DRDO Chief V.K. Saraswat had said in 2008, as the Chief Controller, R and D (Missiles and Strategic Systems), that through the HSTDV project the idea was to demonstrate the “performance of a scram-jet engine at an altitude of 15 km to 20 km, is on”.

::SPORTS::

Rishabh Pant replaces injured Dhawan in world cup squad

  •  Young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant today brought in as cover for the injured Shikhar Dhawan in India's World Cup squad.
  •  Pant's omission from the original squad became a topic of heated debates given his stupendous form in the past one year. Source said, he won't be considered a replacement till the time the team management takes a final call on Dhawan's availability for the rest of the tournament.
  •  The 21-year-old is one of the most exciting players to have emerged in Indian cricket. Pant impressed with Test hundreds during the tours of England and Australia earlier and was in fine form during the IPL last month

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