Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 October 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 October 2020


Cabinet approves STARS scheme for reforming education sector

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a project partially funded by the World Bank to carry out a reform agenda in the governance of school education, and improve data and assessment systems at the national level, as well as teaching and learning outcomes in six States, especially for early childhood and vocational education.
  • The project includes an emergency response component to help the government respond to disaster situations which lead to school closures and loss of learning, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to an official statement issued after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
  • The Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project will have a total project cost of ?5,718 crore, with the World Bank’s support amounting to about ?3,700 crore ($500 million), said the statement.
  • At the State level, the project seeks to improve education outcomes and school-to-work transition strategies for better labour market outcomes in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha.
  • A similar project to be funded by the Asian Development Bank will cover Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Assam and every State will partner with one other State to share best practices, said the statement.

India gets re-elected as president of ISA

  • India has been re-elected as the President of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and France as the Co- President for a term of two years. 
  • This was decided during the virtual meeting of third assembly of the International Solar Alliance attended by 34 ISA members today.Four new Vice-Presidents were also chosen to represent the four regions of ISA.
  • The assembly also approved the initiatives of the ISA Secretariat in institutionalizing ISA’s engagement with the private and public corporate sector through the Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action.
  • Speaking in the plenary, President of the ISA assembly and India’s Power and New and Renewable Energy Minister, R.K. Singh appreciated the Alliance Members coming together to work for combating climate change.
  • He welcomed the seventh initiative on heating and cooling to be introduced for discussion in the Third Assembly.
  • Mr Singh said solar energy is already contributing around 2.8 percent of global electricity and if trends were to continue, by 2030 solar will become most important source of energy for electricity production in large part of the world.
  • The President also mentioned about various activities and programmes initiated by ISA since the 2nd Assembly.



IMF claims India’s public debt to rise to almost 90% due to COVID

  • India’s public debt ratio, which remarkably remained stable at about 70% of the GDP since 1991, is projected to jump by 17 percentage points to almost 90% because of an increase in public spending due to COVID-19, the IMF said.
  • “In our projections, the increase in public spending, in response to COVID-19, and the fall in tax revenue and economic activity, will make public debt jump by 17 percentage points to almost 90% of GDP,” Vitor Gaspar, Director of IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, told the Press Trust of India.
  • “Going forward, it is projected to stabilise in 2021, before slowly declining up to the end of the projection period, in 2025. Broadly speaking, the pattern of public debt in India is close to the norm around the world,” he said.
  • According to Mr. Gaspar, in the near-term, additional fiscal action can and should be deployed as needed to support the poor and the vulnerable.

MSME ministry launches AI & ML for champions portal

  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises- MSME Ministry has introduced Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for strengthening its single window system portal ‘Champions’ to assist the MSMEs in the country.
  • Champions Portal was launched by the Prime Minister in June this year.This multi-modal system also comprises technology equipped physical control rooms at around 69 locations in the country. 
  • Appreciating the efforts made by the MSME Ministry, Minister NitinGadakari said, the entire conceptualization and scope analysis has been done in the Ministry with the help of NIC and guidance provided by the team of Intel.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Analytics technology help in understanding the issues on real-time basis based on widely available social media and online data.
  • MSME Ministry is also aggressively working in the direction of Industry 4.0 to give a boost to the MSME sector.Ministry is also helping the MSMEs for manufacturing the products like sensors, motors, computer displays and other animation technologies.


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Pakistan re-elected to UNHuman Rights Council

  • Pakistan has been re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council despite opposition from activist groups over its abysmal human rights records.
  • Among the five candidates from the Asia-Pacific region vying for four seats in the UN’s premier human rights body, Pakistan secured the highest number of votes, the Foreign Office said.
  • In a secret-ballot voting in the 193-member UN General Assembly on that race, Pakistan secured 169 votes, Uzbekistan received 164, Nepal 150, China 139 and Saudi Arabia 90.
  • Under the Human Rights Council’s rules, seats are allocated to regions to ensure geographical representation. Except for the Asia-Pacific contest, the election of 15 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council was all but decided in advance because all the other regional groups had uncontested slates.
  • Last week, a coalition of human rights groups from Europe, the U.S. and Canada called on UN member states to oppose the election of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, saying their human rights records make them unqualified.
  • Russia and Cuba, running unopposed, also won the seats.Pakistan is currently serving on the HRC since January 1, 2018. With its re-election, Pakistan will continue as a member for another three-year term commencing on January 1, 2021.

Russia reluctant to extend New START pact with U.S

  • Moscow has said that it does not see prospects for extending the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Washington. 
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this yesterday, while adding that the countries plan to continue talks nonetheless.
  • The New START accord was signed in 2010. It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that Russia and the United States can deploy. It is due to expire in February next year.
  • Failure to extend the pact would remove the main pillar maintaining the balance of nuclear arms between Moscow and Washington.


Health ministry launches  ThalassemiaBalSewayojana phase-2

  • Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan today virtually launched the second phase of “Thalassemia BalSewaYojna” for the underprivileged Thalassemic patients.
  • The Minister said that Prime Minister NarendraModi had introduced the Ayushman Bharat-PradhanMantri Jan AarogyaYojana for targeted populace.
  • He said, beneficiaries of the scheme had expressed their gratitude for this valuable support in midst of the gloom in their lives.
  • Expressing satisfaction that the scheme has been extended to cover Aplastic Anaemia patients for a total of 200 such patients from this year, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, such cases can be prevented by using the Ayushman Bharat Health and  Wellness Centres network.
  • He said, blood transfusion facilities have been made available in every district hospital while some districts also offer the facility in health centres at sub-district level.


Brazil wins over Peru in worldcup qualifiers

  • Neymar’s hat-trick powered Brazil to a 4-2 win over Peru and a share of the lead with Argentina in South American World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
  • Neymar, who scored twice from the spot and once in added time, now has 64 goals, two more than Ronaldo and 13 behind Pele, the record-holder.
  • Lionel Messi’s Argentina topped Bolivia 2-1, scoring its first win in the altitude of La Paz since 2005, to also make it two victories from two starts in the round-robin group stage.


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