Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 June 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 June 2019


::NATIONAL::

Vice president urges use of technology to improve governance

  • The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has called for adopting digital technology to improve governance and timely delivery of services to citizens.

  • Speaking at the inaugural edition of DigiTech Conclave 2019 of The Times Group after launching ET Government portal, in New Delhi,the Vice President said that technology has been a game changer and was progressively helping in eliminating corruption, ensuring transparency and improving the delivery of services in several areas like healthcare, land registrations, transport, tax collection and urban planning.

  • Citing an instance, Shri Naidu said that adopting digital technology helped the elimination of bogus ration cards and resulted in a saving of Rs.6,000 crore in one State. He expressed confidence that ET Government Portal would go a long way in spreading awareness about the transformative potential of digital technology and also in making governance system more accessible to citizens.

  • Quoting to a recent study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute, the Vice President said that India was the second fastest digitizing economy after Indonesia. He said that digitization has the potential not only to boost core sectors like IT, digital communication, and online retail but also transform financial services, agriculture, logistics and education.

  • Shri Naidu also called upon education institutes, the corporate sector, NGOs as also of the Centre and various State governments to impart the necessary skills to our youth, to channelize the energy of these young minds to make India the next economic power. He said that digitization was an important driver of growth as it ensures transparency and builds confidence among investors.

India decides to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S goods

  • India has decided to impose retaliatory tariffs on 29 goods imported from the U.S. from June 16 onwards, a year after it initially decided to do so, officials in the Commerce Ministry told.

  • The tariffs will apply on $220-290 million worth of goods imported from the US, and will have about the same impact as the tariffs imposed by Washington on India last year.

  • The tariffs on the 29 goods including walnuts, apples, and some pulses were initially announced in June 2018 in retaliation to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in March that year to impose higher import tariffs on Indian aluminium and steel. India has repeatedly asked for exemption from these higher tariffs, but to no avail.

  • However, negotiations continued for about a year, with India repeatedly extending the deadline for retaliatory tariffs. These talks, as well as negotiations on granting India duty-free imports for certain items under the U.S.’ Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) seem to have fallen through.

  • According to the Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI), the impact of the retaliatory tariffs would amount to about $290 million. While the Federation of Indian Export Organisations estimates the impact to be $220-240 million, the consensus is that the impact is commensurate to the impact on India due to the U.S. tariffs on aluminium and steel imports.

::ECONOMY::

India’s trade deficit widens in May

  • India’s trade deficit widened in May 2019 to $15.36 billion, with imports growing faster that exports during the period, official data released on Friday showed.Exports grew 3.93% in May to $30 billion compared with $28.86 billion worth of exports in the same month last year.

  • The industries that saw a major growth in exports include electronic goods (50.97%), organic and inorganic chemicals (20.64%), and readymade goods of all textiles (14.15%).

  • “Export growth for May remains at sub-optimal level requiring immediate government intervention,” Engineering Export Promotion Council India chairman Ravi Sehgal said.

  • “For engineering sector, exporters need crucial raw material like steel at international prices. Exporters are looking forward to Budget for fiscal relief,” he said.

  • “Such a growth in exports is a reflection of extremely modest growth in global trade and increasing protectionism,” said Ganesh Kumar Gupta, president, Federation of Indian Export Organisations.

  • “MSME sectors are still facing the problem of liquidity besides various other challenges, including uncertainties owing to tariff war, volatility in commodities/currencies, rapid rise in trade restrictive measures and constraints on the domestic front,” he added. Imports into India grew 4.31% in May 2019 to $45.35 billion, up from $43.48 billion worth of imports in May of last year.

Finance minister holds pre budget consultation with other ministries,economists

  • The Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt. NirmalaSitharaman held here today her 6th Pre-Budget Consultation Meeting with the leading Economists in connection with the forthcoming General Budget 2019-20.

  • The main areas of discussion during the aforesaid Meeting included boosting Economic Growth, Job Oriented Growth, increased Macro-economic Stability, Fiscal Management including ideal size of Public Sector Borrowing requirements and increase in investments among others.

  • The Economists put forward their view that this Budget should set the tone for the next five years and is a unique opportunity to promote manufacturing through Make in India.

  • Various other suggestions received from Economists related to tariff reforms, removing bottlenecks in supply-chain, EXIM policy for agriculture, removal of specific duties on textiles, maintaining fiscal consolidation, revival of Inter-State Councils for holistic domestic growth, boosting employment by focusing on skilling and giving fillip to services and manufacturing sector, macroeconomic stabilisation and structural reforms for long-term grow etc.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

PM wants terror supporting nations to be held accountable

  • Prime Minister NarendraModi has called for united efforts from the global community to eliminate the terrorism from its root. Addressing the Plenary Session of SCO Summit at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan Mr.Modi said, all humanitarian forces will have to unite to counter terrorism.

  • Prime Minister also called for International Conference Against Terrorism. He said that nations supporting, promoting and funding terrorism should be held responsible and made accountable for their actions.

  • In the meeting, the Member states of SCO stressed that there can be no justification for any act of terrorism and extremism. They also reiterated their intention to focus on expanding and deepening cooperation in trade, finance, investment, transport, energy, agriculture, innovation and cutting-edge technology.

  • In the Bishkek Declaration released after the meeting yesterday, the member States urged the international community to strengthen global cooperation in efforts against terrorism without politicization and double standards.

  • Prime Minister Modi and Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov also held a restricted meeting to boost bilateral engagement to the next level. The two countries exchanged 15 documents in various sectors.

UN to move towards investigation of gulf tanker attacks

  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has pressed for an investigation to establish those responsible for a spate of suspected attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf that has raised fears of war.

  • The US has accused Iran of carrying out the attacks, which Tehran has denied. The UN chief said that it was the purview of the Security Council that an independent entity could step in to verify the facts.

  • UN spokesman said that the UN's political chief Rosemary DiCarlo has discussed the Gulf crisis with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Bishkek.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Aerosol chemotherapy shows promising results for treating cancer

  • Although is it still being tested, chemotherapy by aerosol has shown promising results against certain cancers, in a treatment with fewer side effects, say doctors at Georges-Francois Leclerc hospital in the eastern city of Dijon.

  • It is one of seven hospitals in France that are trialling pressurised intraperitoneal aerosol chemotherapy, or PIPAC, a technique developed in Germany in 2013.

  • The drugs are not injected into the bloodstream. Instead, the patient is put under general anaesthetic and treatment is introduced by laparoscopy and chemotherapy is introduced into the peritoneal cavity by an aerosol spray. “It is a minimally invasive without harmful side effects normally “associated with the circulation of the treatment within the blood”, said David Orry, who heads the oncological surgery department.

  • For the moment, PIPAC therapy is only offered to patients undergoing palliative treatment, as its efficacy has yet to be demonstrated in a large scientific study.

  • And the price of the treatment is reasonable, with the injector device costing around €25,000, and each operation using disposable materials worth some €2,000.

::SPORTS::

Saourav Kothari enters international billiards final

  • India's Sourav Kothari stormed into the final of the Pacific International Billiards with a thrilling win over DhvajHaria in Melbourne yesterday.

  • Reigning world billiards champion Kothari will now take today on multiple times world champion Peter Gilchrist of Singapore in the final. Gilchrist beat in-form DhruvSitwala of India, 1250-823.

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