Current Affairs afor IAS Exams - 18 APRIL 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 18 APRIL 2019


Study finds rising zinc deficiency in crops

  • Rising carbon dioxide levels can accelerate zinc deficiency in crops and thus in human consumption, cautions a new study titled ‘Inadequate zinc intake in India: past, present and future’ by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • The study states that inadequate zinc intake has been rising in India for decades, causing tens of millions of people to become newly deficient in it. The study added that the highest rate of inadequate zinc intake was concentrated mainly in the southern and northeastern States with rice-dominated diets: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya.
  • “Rising carbon dioxide levels in the coming decades could accelerate this trend. National grain fortification programmes, increased dietary diversity, bio-fortified crops, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions could all make a difference to slow or reverse the course,” the study noted.
  • Inadequate zinc intake can have serious health consequences, particularly for young children, who are more susceptible to contracting malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and pneumonia, when suffering from zinc deficiency. The presence of zinc plays a critical role in human immune systems.
  • “Rice is poor in [the presence of] zinc, causing higher rates of zinc inadequacy in diets that rely heavily upon it. Overall urban populations, and wealthier urban groups in particular, showed higher rates of inadequate intake as well, due to a higher proportion of nutrient-poor fats and sugars in the diet,” the study said.

Inclusion of more states delaying Tiger census report

  • The much awaited 2018 tiger census report is likely to be delayed and will be released only after the formation of a new government at the Centre, an official said citing “huge data” which is to be analysed.
  • The four-yearly report, which gives out the number of big cats living in the country, was to be released this month, but officials say it is not expected before June due to addition of states in the survey, intense methods and delay by states in submitting the data.
  • However, an official had said in February the report would be released in March as the tiger count was almost completed and only data analysis was pending.
  • According to Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Environment, the process of estimating tigers commenced late and it has been an elaborate exercise with minute details being taken care of so the report is likely to come out in May end.
  • “We are analysing the huge data. It will take time. It’s definitely not coming out before a new government gets elected. The process of estimation began six months late this time. So the report is likely to come out by May end,” Y.V. Jhala, a senior scientist in WII, said.
  • A wildlife official from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body of the environment ministry, said the delay was on the part of state governments in submitting their data to the Centre and due to the increase in the number of states from where the data is being collected.
  • “Number of states have increased this time. Nagaland, Manipur and Gujarat have been included this time besides the 18 tiger reign states. We started the process of tiger estimation from our side but submission of data from different state forest departments took time,” DIG of NTCA NishantVerma said.
  • This is the fourth cycle of the tiger census. The first was conducted in 2006, second in 2010 and third in 2014. A team of over 44,000 officials is working on the census along with 55 biologists, the WII scientist said.
  •  According to the last survey conducted in 2014, the tiger count was 2,226.


CRISIL approves transfer of rating business to subsidiary

  • The board of directors of Crisil has approved the transfer of the ratings business to a 100% subsidiary of Crisil. This has been done to comply with the rules laid down by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which state that rating and non-rating businesses of credit rating agencies have to be segregated.
  • “This segregation will have no impact on Crisil’s businesses and the financial value to Crisil’s shareholders will remain unchanged,” Crisil said in a statement.
  • “The segregation process will be seamless and on completion, ratings of all financial instruments under respective guidelines of the financial sector regulators and authorities will move into the wholly owned subsidiary. During the interim period, the ratings business will continue uninterrupted,” it added.
  • Meanwhile, the transfer would be undertaken through a scheme of arrangement under the Companies Act and will have to be approved by the stock exchanges and the National Company Law Tribunal.

Jet airways suspends services after banks refuse to give funds

  • Jet Airways on Wednesday announced temporary suspension of all its international and domestic flights, with the last flight operating between Amritsar and Mumbai.
  • In a filing before the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and a statement to the media, Jet Airways said it was informed by the State Bank of India (SBI), on behalf of the consortium of Indian lenders, that they were unable to consider its request for critical interim funding.
  • “Since no emergency funding from the lenders or any other source is forthcoming, the airline will not be able to pay for fuel or other critical services to keep operations going. Consequently, with immediate effect, Jet Airways is compelled to cancel all international and domestic flights. The last flight will operate on Wednesday,” it said.
  • Kuldeep Sharma, vice- president, global compliance, and company secretary, in the filing to BSE, said the decision had been taken after a painstaking evaluation of all alternatives that were made available to the company and after receiving guidance and advice from its Board of Directors.
  • Jet Airways said it had informed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the Ministries of Civil Aviation and Finance and other relevant government institutions of this course of action.
  • “Over the last several weeks and months, the company has tried every means possible to seek both interim and long-term funding. Unfortunately, despite its very best efforts, the airline has been left with no other choice today but to go ahead with a temporary suspension of flight operations,” the filing said.

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Trump vetoes resolution ending war in Yemen

  • President Donald Trump on Tuesday vetoed a resolution from Congress directing him to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the second such move of his presidency.
  • The resolution was a harsh bipartisan rebuke to Mr. Trump that took the historic step of curtailing a President’s war-making powers — a step he condemned in a statement announcing his veto. “This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Mr. Trump said.
  • The veto was the second of his presidency, after he overrode a congressional resolution that aimed to reverse the border emergency he declared in order to secure more funding for his wall between the United States and Mexico in March.
  • Vetoing the measure is an “effective green light for the war strategy that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis to continue,” said International Rescue Committee president and CEO David Miliband.
  • “Yemen is at a breaking point with 10 million people on the brink of famine. There are as many as 100 civilian casualties per week, and Yemenis are more likely to be killed at home than in any other structure.”
  • Mr. Trump argued that U.S. support for the bloody war between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iran-aligned Houthi rebels was necessary for a variety of reasons, “first and foremost” to “protect the safety of the more than 80,000 Americans who reside in certain coalition countries.”

UN cultural experts to support rebuild of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

  • UN cultural experts have offered to help in rebuilding the iconic structure of the famed Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Centre Director MechtildRössler who visited the site yesterday told UN News that the cathedral is a universal symbol and the centre of France and its devastation has left people across nations shocked.
  • Rössler said that a team of UNESCO experts is on hand to investigate the stability of the stonework.
  • The UNESCO chief said, the Cathedral is part of the World Heritage site officially known as “Paris, Banks of the Seine”, inscribed on the World Heritage List, in 1991.'
  • The cathedral, where construction began in the 1160s extending for more than a century, is considered to be the finest example of the French Gothic style of architecture, with its groundbreaking use of rib vaults and buttresses, stained glass rosettes and sculpted ornaments.


NASA astronaut to spend 11 months in Space

  • A NASA astronaut will spend nearly a year at the International Space Station, setting a record for women.
  • Station astronaut Christina Koch will remain on board for about 11 months, until February. That approaches but doesn’t quite break Scott Kelly’s 340-day U.S. record. She knew before launching last month that her flight might stretch into 2020. She says it’s awesome.
  • Another NASA astronaut will also have an extended stay. Andrew Morgan will launch to the space station this summer for a nine-month mission, also considerably longer than the usual six months.
  • NASA announced the extended assignments this week. Ms. Koch will break the record of 288 days for the longest single spaceflight by a woman at the end of December. Retired astronaut Peggy Whitson is the current record-holder.


International hockey federation fines Pakistan

  • The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has imposed a hefty fine of one lakh seventy-six thousand Euros on Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for not honouring the Pro League commitments.
  • The FIH has given the Pakistan sports body time until 20th June to pay the fine or else the penalty would be doubled.
  • Confirming the fine, the cash-strapped PHF said it is in no position to pay the penalty.
  • PHF Secretary General Shahbaz Ahmed said in Karachi today that he has requested the FIH to reduce the fine and allow it to be paid in instalments.
  • PHF was fined for not sending the national team for the Pro League matches in Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

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