Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 JANUARY 2018

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 registration.
  •  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 level.

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 houses.
  •  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 added.
  •  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 business.
  •  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 Brexit.
  •  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 September 2018.
  •  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 challenge.

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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 January 10.


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 Test series.
  •  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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