Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 November 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 November 2019


President addresses innovators of Atal tinkering lab marathon

  • A group of selected student innovators of the Atal Tinkering Lab Marathon-2018, called on President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

  • Addressing the student innovators, the President said, he was happy to note that they were selected as the best innovators from approximately 50,000 students from 2,700 schools across the country.

  • He said that it makes him wonder what young children of this nation can achieve when given the opportunity to think unconventionally.

  • Praising the work done by Atal Innovation Mission and Atal Tinkering Lab, the President said that there is a need to provide an ecosystem where the innovations that these young minds come up with can be nurtured.

  • He said that nation is fostering a generation who will be self-reliant and resourceful by encouraging children to tinker and innovate.

WCD ministry announces national plan for better implementation of programmes

  • Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani has announced that her Ministry along with NITI Aayog will prepare a framework for a national plan for States and Union Territories.

  • She said, it will be prepared by early next year for better implementation of all the Central and States policies and programmes for women and children. The Minister was speaking at the two-day National Conference organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in New Delhi today.

  • Ms Irani also suggested that a protocol may be developed for ranking of States and UTs doing commendable work for women and children and also ranking of childcare institutions in the States and UTs.

  • During a presentation by Adviser, Health and Nutrition in NITI Aayog regarding strategy of New India at 75-Status of Women and Children, it was decided that the issues being faced by women and children cannot be contained only within the Ministry of WCD but other Ministries like food and public distribution, health, urban development, law and justice and home may also be actively involved.

  • The Minister urged State Governments to ensure and involve officers from all departments for better implementation of legislation and Central and State Schemes related to women and children.


Retail inflation jumps while Wholesale inflation eases in October

  • Retail inflation surged to 4.62 per cent in October this year mainly on account of higher food prices.

  • According to government data released today, the inflation in the food basket spiked to 7.89 per cent in October this year as against 5.11 per cent the preceding month. The inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 3.99 per cent in September and 3.38 per cent in October last year.

  • The Reserve Bank mainly factors in the CPI-based inflation to arrive at its bi-monthly monetary policy. The RBI has been asked to keep the retail inflation at around four percent.

  • Wholesale prices based inflation eased further to 0.16 per cent in October, as against 0.33 per cent in September.

  • Government data showed subdued prices of non-food articles and fall in prices of manufactured items today.Annual inflation, based on monthly wholesale price index (WPI), was at 5.54 per cent in October last year.

  • For manufactured products, the wholesale inflation was at (-)0.84 per cent in October 2019. However, retail inflation for the month hit a 16-month high of 4.62 per cent due to soaring prices of food articles, including fruits and vegetables.

Labour ministry not to corporatise EPFO

  • The labour ministry plans to drop its proposal to corporatise the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and instead dust off its earlier proposal to set up a body headed by the Prime Minister to oversee the social security of nearly 500 million workers. The move comes after it was pulled up by the Prime Minister’s Office.

  • The ministry’s proposal to corporatise the EPFO had faced severe criticism from labour unions. In its latest draft code on social security released in September, it had proposed a corporate structure, to be headed by a CEO, to manage the provident fund and pension as well as medical insurance for workers.

  • The redesigning of the code has been fast-tracked following a directive from the PMO and outright rejection from all trade unions at the first tripartite meeting of the labour ministry with all stakeholders on the proposed draft last week, said the official.

  • The EPFO has a corpus of Rs 11 lakh crore while the ESIC sits on a cash pile of Rs 75,000 crore. At present, the two entities work more like autonomous bodies run by trustees and a board, respectively, under the administrative control of the labour and employment ministry.

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India and Russia to hold bilateral Regional forum in 2020

  • India and Russia will hold their maiden Bilateral Regional Forum at the level of Russian Provinces and Indian States be held next year to dismantle the barriers of trade at regional level.

  • The two leaders noted with satisfaction that the USD 25 billion target of bilateral trade by 2025 has already been achieved. The two leaders noted the stability and progress made in imports of oil and natural gas. President Putin highlighted the potential of Arctic region in natural gas and invited India to invest in the region.

  • The two leaders also reviewed the progress made in the field of Infrastructure particularly railways in context of raising the speed of the Nagpur-Secunderabad sector railway line.

  • The leaders also noted with satisfaction the cooperation in Defence sector and in the field of Civil Nuclear Energy. They welcomed the prospects of cooperation in civil nuclear energy in third countries.

  • In August four Indian Chief Ministers (Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Goa) led by Commerce and Industry Minister and delegation of 140 Indian companies visited Vladivostok creating a new normal in Indian diplomacy with focus on outward investments and role of Indian states as entrepreneurs.

Bangladesh has highest business bribery risk amongst South Asian countries

  • Bangladesh has the highest business bribery risk among South Asian courtiers, according to the Trace Bribery Matrix which releases annual ranking for 200 countries. The Matrix evaluates countries under four parameters which are business interaction with the government, anti-bribery deterrence, transparency and civil society oversight.

  • Bangladesh has been placed at 178 position among 200 countries in terms of business bribery risk. It has been on the high risk country list of Trace Bribery Matrix since 2014 when the first matrix was released.

  • According to the report Bangladesh has a high degree of government interaction in business, a high expectation of bribes and a high regulatory burden which contributes in high bribery risk for business in the country.

  • In South Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries where the bribery risk is 'high'. Bhutan has the lowest risk of bribery on the index in South Asia as it is placed at 52 in the ranking.

  • Overall, according to this year's TRACE Matrix data, Somalia, South Sudan, North Korea, Yemen and Venezuela presented the highest risk of bribe demands. New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland presented the lowest bribery risk.


Japanese spacecraft starts journey back to Earth

  • After departing from a distant asteroid, Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft started its year-long journey home after successfully completing its mission to bring back soil samples and data that could provide clues to the origins of the solar system.

  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says the spacecraft left its orbit around the asteroid Ryugu, about 300 million kilometres from Earth.

  • Hayabusa2 made two touchdowns on the asteroid and successfully collected data and samples during its 1½-year mission since arriving there in June 2018.

  • The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth in late 2020 and drop a capsule containing the precious samples in the Australian desert.

  • Scientists hope the samples contain carbon and organic matter that could explain how they are related to Earth.


Arsene Wenger named global football development chief by FIFA

  • Veteran coach Arsene Wenger has been named FIFA's Chief of global football development. FIFA said, the former Arsenal and Monaco coach would be responsible for the growth of the game for both men and women around the world and would also be the leading authority on technical matters, including potential changes to the sport's laws.

  • It added that Wenger, 70, would also be tasked with coach education and aiding a programme designed to help former players enter management.

  • The new role brings Wenger back to the game for the first time since 2018, when he left Arsenal after 22 years in charge.

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