Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 June 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 19 June 2020

::NATIONAL::

PM hails launch of commercial coal mining

  • Prime Minister NarendraModi today said India has taken the big decision to fully open the coal and mining sector for competition, capital, participation, and technology.
  • Addressing the launching of auction of 41 coal mines for commercial mining via video conference, Mr Modi said a major step has been taken today to make India self-reliant in the energy sector. He said government is not only launching an auction for commercial coal mining, but also taking the coal sector out of decades of lockdown.
  • The Prime Minister said allowing private sector in commercial coal mining is unlocking resources of a nation with the world's fourth largest reserves. Criticising last policies of keeping the sector closed, the Prime Minister said India should be world's biggest coal exporter considering size of reserves.
  • He pointed out the irony that India has the fourth largest coal reserve in the world, is the second largest producer in the world, but is also the second largest coal importer. 
  • He said the reforms in coal sector are a great way to make Eastern and Central India, and the tribal belt the pillars of development. He said reforms and investment in this sector will play a huge role in making lives easy for the poor and tribal people. 
  • Mr Modi said the commercial coal block auction is a win win for industry users. He said new resources will open up and states will get more revenue and employment.

Several states seek extension of PM GaribKalyanYojana

  • Ten Chief Ministers, from both the BJP and the Opposition, have demanded an extension of the PradhanMantriGaribKalyan Anna Yojana, which was announced by Union Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman as part of the first rescue package to deal with the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The scheme covers the 80 crore ration cardholders provided 5 kg of rice or wheat each month and one kg of pulses, for each of the households. 
  • The States that are demanding an extension include Assam, Karnataka, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. They have demanded an extension of three months.
  • “The demands made by these States have been forwarded to Prime Minister NarendraModi. I have written to him too. We are all aware of the situation and a decision will be taken at an appropriate time,” Union Food Minister RamvilasPaswan said after a meeting with Food Ministers and Secretaries of 14 States and Union Territories who are yet to enrol under the One Nation One Ration Card scheme.
  • According to sources, an extension of three months will cost the government ₹46,000 crore. “The States have argued that the purchasing power of people, those who returned to their villages have reduced drastically. They are now largely dependent on 100 days of work promised.................................

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::ECONOMY::

FSDC-sub committee says regulators would ensure financial stability

  • The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) sub-committee headed by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das today resolved to remain to emerging challenges following the coronavirus outbreak and take necessary action to preserve financial stability.
  • The RBI in a statement said, the meeting, held through video conferencing, was attended by officials of financial sector regulators including SEBI and IRDAI as well as finance ministry.The panel also reviewed the major developments in the global and domestic economy and financial markets that impinge upon financial stability.
  • Amongst other things, it discussed the proposal of setting up of an Inter Regulatory Technical Group on Fintech and the National Strategy on Financial Education 2020-2025.
  • The RBI said, the body also deliberated upon the status and developments under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 and the working of credit rating agencies.
  • Governor Das said the FSDC-SC remains as an important forum for discussions between the various ministries of the government with the regulators and among the regulators as well.

Study finds cut in legislator’s pay led to minor savings only

  • The reduction in salaries and allowances of legislators of six States,effected with the intention of supplementing the States’ resources in tackling the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, is likely to lead to only “negligible savings” in the annual budgeted expenditure of the States, according to a study.
  • Carried out by the PRS Legislative Research, a New Delhi-based think tank, the study has covered Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh. After the outbreak of the pandemic in late March, the States had promulgated ordinances, envisaging cut in salaries and certain allowances ranging from 15% to 30%.
  • The reduction, which came into effect from April, touched upon several components such as basic or fixed salary and sumptuary allowance. In Gujarat, the basic salary of ₹98,500 for Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Leader of the Opposition, has been reduced to ₹68,950.
  • As for the total amount of annual savings, it has been assessed as ₹2.1 crore for Bihar; ₹5.8 crore for Gujarat; ₹4.3 crore for Himachal Pradesh; ₹15.9 crore for Karnataka; ₹3.1 crore for Kerala and ₹17.4 crore for Uttar Pradesh.
  • In terms of proportion of the total budgeted expenditure of the States, this ranges from 0.001% for Bihar to 0.002% for Kerala to 0.003% each for Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh to 0.007% for Karnataka to 0.009% for Himachal Pradesh.
  • The study also referred to the practice of some countries in appointing independent authorities to ...............

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India to participate in RIC grouping’s virtual conference

  • India will participate in the virtual meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping on June 23, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on Thursday.
  • The Indian decision to go ahead with the ministerial level exchange has created an opening for de-escalation of tension along the Line of Actual Control with the Russian diplomatic sources indicating that they support “constructive dialogue” over the tension in eastern Ladakh.
  • The confirmation from the Indian side came a day after External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi spoke over phone regarding the killing of at least 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley on June 15. 
  • It is understood that RIC is likely to throw up a moment of frank exchange between the Indian and the Chinese sides if the Ministers decide to bring up the Ladakh scenario during their exchanges.
  • The official said RIC is a “useful platform to support a unified agenda” and several regional and global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic may also come up during the discussion. The Russian reiteration of support for dialogue between China and India came even though Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said bilateral issues were usually not taken up at RIC.

U.S to table bill for sanctions against China over Uighur rights

  • U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation on Wednesday calling for sanctions over the repression of China’s Uighurs, as excerpts from a book by his former National security adviser John Bolton alleged he had approved of their mass detention.
  • The Bill was intended to send China a strong message on human rights by mandating sanctions against those responsible for oppression of Muslim minority.
  • China, which denies mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism, responded to the Bill with anger, saying it “vilified” the human rights situation in Xinjiang and was a malicious attack against China.
  • China and the United States are already at loggerheads over everything from China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic to U.S. support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
  • Mr. Trump issued a signing statement that some of the Bill’s requirements might limit his constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy so he would regard them as advisory, not mandatory.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

New fish species discovered in Arunachal Pradesh

  • A new species of fish has been discovered in the Northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • This new species was discovered by Dr.Keshav Kumar Jha, who has named it as Schizothoraxsikusirumensis, after the rivers — Siku and Sirum in East Siang District at the junction, from where it was found.
  • Jha also serves as an associate professor and current head of the Department of Zoology at Jawaharlal Nehru College in Pasighat.
  • It may be reminded that last year, Fisheries and Aquatic ecology research team led by prof. DN Das from Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) discovered five species of fish from the state.
  • These species include the Mystusprabini (discovered in Sinkin and the Dibang rivers in Lower Dibang Valley district); the Exostomakottelati (discovered in the Ranga river in Lower Subansiri district); the Creteuchiloglanistawangensis (discovered in the Tawangchu river in Tawang district); the Garraranganensis (discovered in the Ranga river); and the Physoschisturaharkishorei (discovered in the Dibang and the Lohit rivers in Lower Dibang Valley district).

::SPORTS::

Bianca Andreescu to defend U.S open title

  • Canada’s Bianca Andreescu has announced that she will defend her US Open title, hours after six-time winner Serena Williams confirmed she would also play.
  • “I have no doubt that the USTA has come up with the best plan to ensure our safety as we look to the return of tennis in 2020,” world No. 6 Andreescu wrote on Twitter.

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