Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 May 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 may 2019


India to co- chair consultative group of GFDRR

  •  India has been unanimously chosen as co-chair of the Consultative Group (CG) of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) for the fiscal year 2020.
  •  The decision was taken during the meeting of GFDRR held in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday on the margins of the 6th Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.
  •  GFDRR is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change. It is is a grant-funding mechanism, managed by the World Bank, that supports disaster risk management projects worldwide.
  •  According to an official release, India became a member of CG of GFDRR in 2015 and expressed its interest to co-chair during the last meeting of the group held in October 2018. India’s candidature was backed by its consistent progress in disaster risk reduction in the country and its initiative to form a coalition on disaster resilient infrastructure.
  •  This will give the country an opportunity to work with the member countries and organizations with a focused contribution towards advancing the disaster risk reduction agenda during the course of the year.
    NGT directs states to submit report on utilisation of treated wastewater
  •  The National Green Tribunal today directed 18 states and two Union Territories to submit an action plan to ensure utilization of treated waste to reduce pressure on the groundwater resources throughout the country.
  •  Hearing a plea, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the states and UTs to submit the action plan within three months to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  •  The green panel said the states which have still not furnished their action plans are defaulters for violating the directions of the tribunal for which no valid reason can be seen.
  •  It noted that only nine states and five UTs have submitted the action plan. Accordingly to the CPCB status report, the states which have not submitted action plans include Gujarat, Assam, Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.


India finds flaws in OECD STR index ranking method

  •  India has found problems with the current method under which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranks countries based on their services trade policies, indicating the outcomes are biased and counter-intuitive.
  •  Launched in 2014, the Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI), computed by the OECD, is now available for 2018 for a total of 45 economies (36 OECD and the rest non-OECD) and 22 sectors.
  •  The OECD index has a large number of problems associated with it, including some significant design issues that render it impractical for use, a study commissioned by the Commerce Ministry found.
  •  India has approached several developing countries during the recently-concluded World Trade Organization talks in New Delhi to try to build consensus around the new method of measuring trade restrictiveness in the services sector.
  •  “The manufacturing trade has a well-documented system of classification of commodities through which you can tell exactly what the commodity is and also what the applied tariffs and effective tariffs are, and, hence, see how restrictive any country’s policies are,” Mr. Pant explained.
  •  The problem in services, he explained, is that for a long time there wasn’t any way to know whether a country’s policies were restrictive. “Even if you could ascertain that, one didn’t know what to do about it since services trade is usually regulated by domestic regulations and not border tariffs.

Developing countries agree on strengthening of WTO

  •  Seventeen developing countries have stressed on working collectively to strengthen the World Trade Organisation-WTO to promote development and inclusivity for the benefits of all members.
  •  A 13 point declaration was signed by these nations at the end of the two-day Ministerial meeting of developing countries in New Delhi yesterday.
  •  The countries include Egypt, Barbados, Jamaica, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and South Africa. A total of 22 countries attended the meeting.
  •  According to the document, the process of WTO reform must keep development at its core, promote inclusive growth and fully take into account the interests and concerns of developing members.
  •  The member nations who signed the document also pitched for filling vacancies in WTO's appellate body saying that the current impasse could completely paralyse the dispute settlement mechanism.
  •  They urged all the members to engage constructively to address the challenge without delay. The developing nations also agreed to consult with developing members on various issues of common interest.

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UN mission calls for financial isolation of Myanmar army

  •  A United Nations fact-finding mission today called for financial isolation of Myanmar's military as part of efforts to hold the army accountable for human rights abuses.
  •  The independent investigators, working under a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, said in a statement that there has been no progress toward resolving the crisis over Myanmar's mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.
  •  Chairman of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar MarzukiDarusman said the situation is at a total standstill.Myanmar authorities have razed deserted Rohingya villages and members of the minority remaining in the country live in displacement camps and in fear of further military reprisals.
  •  The mission found that the military has committed atrocities against many ethnic groups living within Myanmar. It also faulted armed ethnic groups for committing human rights abuses.
  •  Myanmar denies allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine, saying its security forces have not targeted civilians and have taken action only in response to attacks by Rohingya militants.
  •  The Fact-Finding Mission is to hand over its findings to a new group of the Human Right Council, the Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar, in September. That organisation was set up to handle criminal prosecution of violations of international law.

Putin expresses willingness to fully restore U.S-Russia ties

  •  Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would like to fully restore relations with the United States and believes that his counterpart Donald Trump also wants the same.
  •  At a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin said that his country had not interfered in US elections.
  •  He further said that a report by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller had found no evidence of collusion with Trump’s 2016 campaign.
  •  Earlier, Pompeo met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hoping to find common grounds in strategic issues over Iran, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and North Korea.
  •  The US Secretary of State also said the US does not seek a war with Iran. He said the US would respond if its interests were attacked. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also said there will be no war with the US.


Young scientists programme Yuvika 2019 begins

  •  The Young Scientist Programme ‘Yuvika2019’ was inaugurated by Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan, through video mode in Bengaluru today.
  •  The two-week residential summer vacation programme spread over four ISRO centres in Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad and Shillong are attended by 110 students.
  •  Saying that Science and Technology is an essential component for the development of any country, he added that they play a major role in improving the quality of life including safety and security of human beings.
  •  He also touched upon how the applications of Space technology is helping in the day to day activities of common man besides ensuring the safety of life and property during disaster situations.
  •  Dr Sivan also said that programmes like this will lead to national integration and nation building. The participants will be visiting the spaceport of India, SatishDhawan Space Centre in Shriharikota during this programme.


GS Lakshmi becomes first women to be in ICC international panel of referees

  •  India's G.S. Lakshmi has become the first woman to be appointed to ICC's international panel of match referees and will be eligible to officiate in international games with immediate effect.
  •  Claire Polosak had become the first ever woman umpire to stand in a men's ODI, earlier this month.
  •  Lakshmi, 51, who first officiated as a match referee in domestic women's cricket in 2008-09, has overseen three women's ODI matches and three women's T20 International matches.

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