Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 JANUARY 2019
Centre publishes draft emigration bill, invites suggestions
- The Ministry of External Affairs will entertain suggestions and
comments on the draft Emigration Bill, 2019, giving an opportunity for
Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to air their views till Sunday.
- Official sources said the new Bill would ensure the overall
welfare and protection of emigrants and it included a proposal to constitute
an Emigration Management Authority (EMA).
- One of the proposals is to make mandatory the registration of all
categories of Indian nationals proceeding for overseas employment including
students pursuing higher studies abroad. Previously, the Ministry had issued
an order on off-loading non-Emigration Check Required status passport
holders flying to 18 countries who had not made pre-departure online
- Now the new Bill focusses on making registration on a digital
platform so as to keep emigration a swift, efficient and hassle-fee process.
- Another salient feature of the Bill is the mandatory registration
of recruitment agencies and student enrolment agencies. Sub-agents have also
been brought under the ambit of the proposed Bill.
- The Bill has comprehensive provisions, including insurance,
pre-departure orientation, skill upgradation, legal assistance, migrant
resource centres, help desks, migration and and mobility partnerships.
- The Emigration Management Authority will have nodal authorities in
all States and Union Territories that will be chaired at Principal Secretary
PMAY unlikely to meet target this year : Survey
- With two and a half months to go for the end of this financial
year, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Grameen) scheme to provide housing for
the rural poor has achieved only 66% of its target to complete one crore
- The Ministry of Rural Development still hopes to advance further
towards the goal by the deadline of March-end, given that about 15 lakh
homes have reached the late stages of construction with roofs ready to be
- Another 11 lakh homes have reached the lintel level, and may be
completed in the next few months even if they do not meet the March 31
deadline. The scheme has been successful in reducing the average time of
construction from 314 days to 114 days, according to an official statement.
- However, there has been little headway made with regard to one
bloc of beneficiaries: the landless, who do not possess the land on which to
construct the PMAY homes they are entitled to.
- According to data provided in the letter, some of the most laggard
States as of July 2018 were Maharashtra, which had provided land for only
890 of 1.39 lakh landless beneficiaries and Assam, which had provided land
for 574 of 48,283 landless beneficiaries.
- In Bihar, only 55 out of 5,348 beneficiaries had been allotted
land. West Bengal had not allotted land for even a single one of its 34,884
landless beneficiaries. “There are about 2.4 lakh left [to be sanctioned] in
Bihar and about 30,000 each in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu,” said a senior
official of the Ministry.
PM assures highest growth rate post economic liberalisation
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asserted that his
“government achieved the highest growth rate and lowest inflation’ since
1991 when India began economic liberalisation.
- “At 7.3%, the average GDP growth over the entire term of our
government, it has been the highest for any government since 1991,” Mr. Modi
said, adding, “At the same time, the average rate of inflation at 4.6% is
the lowest for any Indian government since 1991.”
- Inaugurating the ninth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit here,
Mr. Modi said the country was ready to do business like never before,
listing a host initiatives his administration had taken to attract
investments and improve the ease of doing business ranking.
- We are among the largest ecosystems in the world for start-ups.
Doing business with us is a great opportunity. This is also because we are
among the top 10 FDI destinations in the world,” he said, noting that India
had received FDI worth $260 billion, which was 45% of the FDI received in
the last 18 years.
- In his 20-minute speech, Mr. Modi talked about how his government
had ushered in reforms and initiated measures that had helped the economy
grow stronger and made India a major destination for investments and
- Over the last four years, the focus of the government had been to
reduce government and enhance governance, he added.
RBI governor warns about inflation volatility
- Amid a growing demand for a reduction in interest rate in the
upcoming monetary policy review scheduled for February 7, Reserve Bank of
India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das said wide divergences and volatility in
inflation pose challenges for its assessment.
- The case for a rate cut has been cited by economists and industry
lobbies on the back of a sharp fall in retail inflation in recent months
with the latest data showing December CPI inflation at 2.2%.
- While food inflation has turned negative since October 2018 and
fuel inflation has been highly volatile, inflation, excluding food and fuel,
remains sticky at close to 6%,” he said adding such ‘wide divergences and
large volatilities’ pose challenges for inflation assessment.
- Observing maintaining price stability in the economy was a basic
mandate for a central bank, the Governor acknowledged that easing of global
crude oil prices augured well for inflation outcomes. Mr.Das also spoke
about challenges that Indian firms may face due to developments around
- On the banking sector, the Governor reiterated the central bank’s
financial stability report assessment that gross NPA ratio of the banks
could further come down to 10.3% in March 2019 compared with 10.8% in
- The Governor, however, pointed out that the area where policy
action is required is corporate governance in banks with a focus on
transparency and accountability. He also described cyber risk as a major
U.S –NorthKorean diplomats meet at Sweden
- High-ranking diplomats from the United States and North Korea are
currently holding talks in Sweden aiming to end the stand-off between the
two countries, a diplomatic source said on Friday.
- “After the meeting in Singapore things have ground to a halt. The
purpose of this meeting is to inject some energy and to take steps forward
in the relations between U.S. and North Korea,” the source said
- The source said the delegations included North Korea’s Vice
Foreign Minister, Choe Son Hui and Stephen Biegun, the U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea. The meeting, which started on Thursday and
will continue over the weekend, has been planned in secret for months.
- Earlier this month, Mr. Trump defended the stuttering progress on
North Korea by saying that Pyongyang had stopped missile and bomb testing
and if it had not been for his administration ”you’d be having a nice, big,
fat war in Asia.”
- Meanwhile, North Korea’s lead negotiator in nuclear diplomacy is
due to hold talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington and
could also meet Mr. Trump on Friday during a visit aimed at clearing the way
for a second U.S.-North Korea summit.
U.S envoy meets Pak Prime minister
- U.S. special envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday held
talks with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and discussed
efforts to speed up the Afghan peace process by involving the Taliban.
- Mr. Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Thursday from Afghanistan
and held delegation-level talks with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and
also met Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Foreign Office spokesman
Mohammad Faisal said Mr. Khalilzad called on Mr. Qureshi.
- “He briefed Foreign Minister Qureshi on his recent engagements in
the region,” Mr. Faisal said. “The FM assured Ambassador Khalizad of
Pakistan’s support for the peace process,” he tweeted.
- Earlier, a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Thursday
after Mr. Khalizad’s meeting with Ms. Janjua said that the two sides agreed
on “intra-Afghan dialogue” to end more than 17-year-long Afghan war.
- Mr. Khalilzad is touring the regional countries ahead of a
proposed meeting with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia.
- Pakistan’s support is considered vital for moving forward the
peace process in Afghanistan. Its recent efforts to bring the Taliban to the
negotiating table have been recognised by the U.S. and Afghanistan. Earlier,
Ms. Khalilzad met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New `Delhi on
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Scientists assert age of saturn’s rings younger than previous estimates
- Saturn’s rings are one of our solar system’s magnificent sights,
but may be a relatively recent addition, according to data obtained from
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft before the robotic explorer’s 2017 death plunge
into the giant gas planet.
- Scientists said that a calculation of the mass of the rings based
on gravitational measurements of the planet collected by Cassini indicated
they formed between 100 million and 10 million years ago in roughly the
final 2% of Saturn’s current age.
- The findings challenge the notion favoured by some astronomers
that the rings developed soon after Saturn formed about 4.5 billion years
ago along with the other planets, including the earth.
- The ring mass turned out to be 45% lower than previous estimates
based on 1980s data from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. Lower mass indicates a
younger age, the researchers said in a study published in Science .
- Scientists suspect the rings formed perhaps when a large icy comet
or moon ventured too close to Saturn and was shattered by gravitational
forces or moons collided in orbit. Scientists hope that they can, in the
future, get samples of ring material to find the precise date of origin.
India beat Australia to make historic win
- Mahendra Singh Dhoni struck an unbeaten 87 to guide India to a
historic ODI bilateral series win against Australia. Visitors beat the hosts
by seven wickets in the decisive third match in Melbourne today.
- Dhoni was declared Man of the Series and Chahal Man of the Match.
Before this, India had become first team from the sub-continent to win a
- It is the first time India remained unbeaten on Australian soil in
all three formats and Kohli said it augurs well for the upcoming World Cup.
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