Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 FEBRUARY 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 FEBRUARY 2019


Centre to re issue triple talaq ordinance

  •  The Union Cabinet on Tuesday gave its approval to reissue the triple talaq ordinance that makes the practice of talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq by Muslim men a criminal offence with a jail term.
  •  The government adopted the ordinance route after the Bill lapsed, failing to get passed in the Rajya Sabha in the recently concluded session of Parliament.
  •  For the third time in less than a year, the ordinance will become law once President Ram Nath Kovind signs it.
  •  The proposed Ordinance will protect the rights of married Muslim women and prevent divorce by the practice of instantaneous and irrevocable ‘talaq-e-biddat’ by their husbands. It will discourage the practice of triple talaq i.e. talaq-e-biddat.
  •  Promulgation of the proposed Ordinance will provide the rights of subsistence allowance, custody of minor children to victims of triple talaq i.e. talaq-e-biddat.

Home ministry invites private sector participation in seaplane project

  •  Four islands in the Andamans and three in Lakshadweep have been identified for seaplane operations, while private sector participation has been invited for tourism-based projects, the Home Ministry said on Tuesday.
  •  The 5th meeting of the Island Development Agency, chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, also reviewed the progress made towards the programme ‘Holistic development of islands’.
  •  Swaraj Dweep, Shaheed Dweep, Hutbay and Long Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Kavaratti, Agatti and Minicoy in Lakshadweep have been identified for seaplane operations.
  •  Key infrastructure projects such as operationalisation of the Diglipur airport for civilian aircraft and the construction of a new airport on Minicoy Island have been accorded high priority by the government, while Coastal Regulation Zone clearance (CRZ) has been accorded for ‘Middle Strait Bridge’ on Andaman Trunk Road.
  •  Bids for private sector participation in three tourism-based projects have already been invited by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration. They include eco-tourism projects on Smith Island and Long Island and a tent city project on Aves Island. Bids will be invited shortly for one more project on Neil Island.
  •  In order to sustainably utilise the potential of Tuna fish, 10 deep-sea modern fishing vessels are being procured by the Lakshadweep administration from Cochin Shipyard Limited.
  •  The Home Minister expressed satisfaction at the progress made since the last meeting held on June 30, 2018, when directions were given to focus on creation of recreational facilities along with tourism infrastructure, implementation of renewable energy projects, incentives for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and the development of a film city.


Cabinet approves promulgation of companies ordinance 2019

  •  The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the Promulgation of the Companies (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2019 and for replacement of the said Ordinance in Parliament by a replacement Bill.
  •  It is based on the recommendations of the Committee to review offences under the Companies Act, 2013, so as to fill critical gaps in the corporate governance & compliance framework as enshrined in the Companies Act 2013, while simultaneously extending greater Ease of Doing Business to law abiding corporates.
  •  This will incentivize compliance of law while simultaneously meting out exemplary punishment for serious violations.
  •  The amendments have been brought in to address the need to impose civil liability for technical & procedural defaults of a minor nature & to plug gaps in the corporate governance & enforcement framework covering a wide range of issues.
  •  The changes are expected to lead to greater compliance by corporates, de-clogging of the special courts, de-clogging of the NCLT and effective enforcement.
  •  At present around 60 percent of the 40,000 odd cases pending in courts pertain to sections dealing with procedural lapses that are proposed to be shifted to in-house adjudication mechanism thereby incentivizing compliance by corporates.

National programme for mid-day meals revised

  •  The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the revision of norms under Mid Day Meal Scheme with an outlay of Rs.12,054 Crore for 2019-20 in addition to the subsidy of about Rs. 8,000 crore borne by Department of Food & Public Distribution
  •  Annual increase in Cooking cost linked to Inflation Index. This year Cooking cost is enhanced to Rs. 4.35 and Rs. 6.51 per child per school day, thus Cooking cost is enhanced by Rs 361 crore. This will offset the impact of inflation on the food items under Mid Day Meal Scheme.
  •  The States and UTs have been given flexibility to utilize, with the prior approval of MHRD, 5% of their Annual Work Plan & Budget for new interventions. This will help the States and UTs in undertaking innovative activities.
  •  Concept of community participation in the form of Tithi Bhojan will be encouraged under which people from the community celebrate important days such as child birth, marriage, birthdays etc. by contributing to the Mid Day Meal Scheme. Tithi Bhojan is not a substitute to Mid Day Meal but it supplements or compliments Mid DayMeal.
  •  Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS), is a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme which covers all school children studying in Classes I-VIII of Government, Government-Aided Schools. The scheme covers more than 12 crore children studying in 11.4 lakh schools across the country.
  •  Government of India incurs more than Rs 17,600 crore in the scheme including the subsidy of about Rs.7,600 crore on food grains.

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Fiji to continue to enhance cooperation with India

  •  Both India and China are important partners of Fiji and the island nation will continue to strengthen ties with the two Asian giants, its High Commissioner to India, Yogesh Punja, has said.
  •  “It’s a balancing act, We are engaging with both. We have good relationship with both countries. We have defence cooperation not only with China but Russia at the same time. We have all the players on the table, depending on who has more love,” Mr. Punja told.
  •  Asked about Fiji’s participation in the China-led transborder infrastructure project, Belt and Road Initiative, Mr. Punja said his country had signed up with the Chinese for several infrastructure projects but “we do not want to be dependent on loans.”
  •  Both India and Fiji signed a defence agreement in 2017 with a goal to deepen cooperation in maritime security and provide training for Fiji troops. Asked about the pact, the High Commissioner said he can’t discuss the details of defence cooperation.
  •  He added that there are a number of areas other than defence that both sides have identified to strengthen bilateral ties. “We have close to 28 MoUs on the table,” said the envoy.
  •  These include MoUs on sugar industry, agriculture and tourism. Fiji is a major producer of sugar. The state-owned Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) is the largest public enterprise in the country, employing some 3,000 people.

Pakistan wants ICJ to dismiss khulbushan plea

  •  India’s application to have the International Court of Justice order Kulbhushan Jadhav’s release should be dismissed as inadmissible Pakistan’s counsel Khawar Qureshi argued on Tuesday at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, in a heated, and often personal presentation that repeatedly referenced Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused India of engaging in “political theatre,” “grandstanding,” and presenting its case in “bad faith.”
  •  In presentations that contrasted with the more muted tone of India’s opening oral arguments the day before, Mr. Qureshi and Pakistani’s Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan accused India of failing to answer fundamental questions and of “causing terrorism and training terrorists to act in Pakistan” and wanting to “destroy” the country.
  •  Pakistan had suffered more than 74,000 terrorism-related casualties and fatalities that had been caused “mainly by the interference” of India, said Mr. Khan in opening remarks.
  •  Mr. Khan then accused India of having “detained and tortured” him as a prisoner of war 20 years before.
  •  “I have been a victim of Indian brutalities,” he told the court, in his opening submission, after he had been told to proceed with setting out Pakistan’s case, despite their putting forward a request for an adjournment after former Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani was taken ill on Monday, and has not been able to return to the court.
  •  The three-hour-long hearing during which Mr. Qureshi was asked to slow down the pace of his presentation several times by the President followed opening arguments by Harish Salve, India’s counsel, and joint secretary Deepak Mittal , who accused Pakistan of “knowingly, wilfully and brazenly” flouting the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.


Scientists discover anti -ageing compound in plants

  •  In Japan, the slightly bitter leaves of the Ashitaba plant have long been considered healthy, and a new study has found the traditional belief may have good scientific grounds.
  •  A natural substance in the plant appears to induce a key process that helps remove the “cellular garbage” that can build up as cells age and cause a range of diseases and disorders.
  •  Researchers from the University of Graz's Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Austria, said the substance known as 4,4’-dimethoxychalcone or DMC, which occurs in Ashitaba plants, induces a process called autophagy. “This is a cleansing process,” said Frank Madeo, a professor at the university.
  •  It removes “superfluous material, especially cellular garbage like aggregated proteins.” That “cleaning” process is key to sustained good health as the body ages.


Nikhat and Meena triumph in Strandja memorial boxing

  •  Nikhat Zareen and Meena Kumari Devi became the first Indian women boxers to win gold medals at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria on Tuesday.
  •  Zareen, a multiple-time national medallist, claimed a 5-0 win in the 51kg category finals against Filipino Irish Magno. Devi defeated another Filipino Aira Villegas 3-2, in the bantamweight (54kg) summit clash.

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