Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 August 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 August 2019


Swachhbharat to include removal of plastic littering soon

  • In a nascent effort to look beyond toilets and kick off its ODF+ phase — that is, Open Defecation Free Plus — focussing on solid and liquid waste management, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) has included the prevalence of plastic litter and water-logging in villages as indicators of cleanliness in its 2019 rural survey.

  • For the last five years, ever since the SBA was launched on Gandhi Jayanti in 2014, its main focus has been on eliminating open defecation by constructing toilets and promoting their usage through widespread behaviour change programmes.

  • With the October 2, 2019 deadline looming near, and the original goal almost achieved according to government data, the mission is moving on to its next phase.

  • A senior official explained that the protocol for plastic waste would call for bans on single use plastic, as well as the collection and sorting of waste at the Block level. If possible, plastic waste would be sent for recycling, or baled and shredded.

  • The survey aims to cover 18,000 sample villages — approximately 30 per rural district — and take feedback from over 2.5 crore villagers. In fact, citizen feedback will account for 35% of the ranking of districts.The survey will be conducted from August 14 to September 2.

Centre decides to ease mining norms in the country

  • The Union Environment Ministry plans to provide “temporary” forest clearances to prospective bidders for mines whose leases are set to expire in March 2020. The bulk of such mines are located in Odisha and Karnataka.

  • Officials said that the Environment Ministry would enable clearances to avoid a potential drop in iron production between 2020 and 2022, and catalyse moribund mining auctions.

  • The traditional process has been for mine developers to be responsible for obtaining necessary clearances to start work at a mine.

  • This relaxation was necessary because of a change in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, which was amended in 2015.

  • The key change is that, unlike the previous years when mining leases were extended every 20 years, new leases would be issued for 50 years and they would be made available via an auction.


Govt. set to boost infrastructure spending

  • In his address to the nation from the Red Fort on the occassion of Independence day, Prime Minister NarendraModi said, the government has decided to invest 100 lakh crore rupees in infrastructure building.MrModi said, India can become a 5 trillion dollar economy in the next five years.

  • Prime Minister called for improving exports to get more share in world economy. He said, wealth creation is important for the country as only then wealth distribution will happen. Mr Modisaid, those who create wealth need to be respected.

  • Prime Minister said, today there is a stable government in India and its policy regime is predictable. He said, the world is eager to explore trade with India.

  • Mr Modi said, the government has kept the inflation under check and supplement development. He added that the fundamentals of Indian economy are strong which will help the country to grow further.

Govt.asks PSB’s reason for rise in NPA’s

  • The Finance Ministry has initiated a comprehensive consultative process with public sector banks (PSBs) to find out the reasons for the sharp rise in bad loans in the previous five years, apart from outlining national priorities with which these banks have to align themselves.

  • Touted as a ‘bottom-up consultative process,’ the Ministry will review the performance of these entities in the last five years.

  • This will be the first comprehensive review of PSBs after NirmalaSitharaman took charge of the Finance Ministry in May, that will also provide a direction to the PSBs for the next five years.

  • The government also wants to know the reasons for the decline in credit flow in the last five years. In particular, the Ministry wants to know if credit to manufacturing has dropped, and if so, why it had, as the IIP has risen from 2.8% in 2014-15 to 4.6% in 2017-18.

  • Banks also have to dwell on the number of loan applications they received between April 2014 and March 2019 and as to how many were accepted and rejected.

  • The consultative process will start from branch level upwards to the State-level and then to the national level.

  • Some of the thematic papers on which the consultation will take place are — increasing digital payments, corporate governance, credit to MSMEs and farm loans among others.

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U.S accuses India, China misusing developing nations tag

  • US President Donald Trump has said that India and China are no longer developing nations and both are taking advantage of developing nations tag from the World Trade Organization.

  • Addressing a gathering at Pennsylvania, Trump said India and China, the two economic giants from Asia, are no longer developing nations and they cannot take benefits from WTO. However, they are taking the advantage of a developing nation tag from the WTO, putting the US to disadvantage.

  • Trump, championing his America First policy, has been a vocal critic of India for levying allegedly high duties on US products. The US and China are currently engaged in a bruising trade war after Trump imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese goods. Beijing retaliated in the same manner by imposing tariffs on the American goods.

  • Earlier in July, Trump asked WTO to define how it designates developing country status, a move apparently aimed at singling out countries like China, Turkey and India which are getting lenient treatment under the global trade rules.

Srilankangovt.praises India’s role in its development

  • Sri Lankan Government has said that India plays a key role in providing addresses to upcountry Indian descendant people with single houses, who have 200 years of history in this country and 150 years history of Tea manufacturing.

  • Minister for Upcountry New Villages Infrastructure and Community Development P. Digambaram in a message to mark the Independence Day said that Sri Lankan Government is keen in providing single houses to upcountry people and the Indian Government adds strength to that initiative by extending its support through Indian Housing Project. He said providing four thousand houses was completed successfully in the first phase.

  • Following that success, Prime Minister NarendraModi when visited Sri Lanka, met the upcountry people and promised for another 10,000 houses. An agreement to this effect was signed recently and the efforts to construct ten thousand houses will commence shortly.

  • This project will be extended to other parts of upcountry as well. The minister said while India is celebrating its 73rd Independence anniversary, he wishes India to get more progress in its economy and the people to get blessed with prosperity and wish Sri Lanka and the Upcountry to receive more assistance.


Researchers use egg shells to synthesise natural bone implant material

  • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IIT-H) and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, have developed a process by which bone implant materials can be synthesised from eggshells.

  • The research seeks to produce bone substitute materials such as tricalcium phosphate, a commonly-used bone substitute material, from natural sources. Eggshells are made of largely of minerals (95.1%) along with small amounts of proteins and water. Calcium is the main mineral component.

  • In modern medicine, damaged and missing bones are replaced with bone from either the patient or a donor or by using artificial materials containing calcium, such as Plaster of Paris, and more recently, phosphate compounds like hydroxyapatite and calcium phosphate.

  • For their study, researchers synthesised pure and thermally stable tricalcium phosphate nanopowder — powder a hundred thousand times smaller than the width of a single human hair — from eggshells. They used a milling process called ‘ball milling’ to produce these activated calcium phosphate powders.

  • Results showed that eggshell waste is promising enough to replace the commercially available tricalcium phosphate (produced by using harmful chemicals) and has the capability to develop implantable biomaterial for tissue regeneration, according to the research paper published in Ceramics International .


IWF suspends athletes for doping violations

  • The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) said today that Five Russian weightlifters, including a 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, have been provisionally suspended after doping tests on samples recovered from the Moscow lab.

  • RuslanAlbegov who took a London Games bronze in the plus 105 kilo category and won back-to-back world titles in the next two years, was suspended along with women's minus 63 kilo 2013 world champion TimaTurieva.

  • Also provisionally banned were David Bedzhanyan, Oleg Chen and EgorKlimanov.

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