Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 August 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 August 2020


Central government decides to set up national recruitment agency

  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the creation of a National Recruitment Agency (NRA) for conducting a Common Eligibility Test (CET) for various government jobs.
  • Information and Broadcasting Minister PrakashJavadekar said the Cabinet had taken the “historic” decision at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister NarendraModi to benefit crores of young people who applied for jobs every year. About 2.5 crore to 3 crore candidates applied for the 1.25 lakh Group B and C jobs advertised by three agencies every year, with separate schedules and fees.
  • “A common eligibility test would enable these candidates to appear once and apply to any or all of these recruitment agencies for the higher level of examination. This would indeed be a boon to all candidates,” a government statement said.
  • The exam would be held online in 12 languages to begin with, and centres would be set up in every district to increase access, it stated.
  • “The CET score of the candidate shall be valid for a period of three years from the date of declaration of the result. The best of the valid scores shall be deemed to be the current score of the candidate,” it said.
  • Candidates from the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes would be given a relaxation in the age limit as per the government’s policy, it noted.

FSSAI organises online orientation workshop as part of Eat Right Challenge

  • Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan today presided over an online orientation workshop organised by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as part of its Eat Right Challenge.
  • He also launched FSSAI’s ‘Eat Right India’ Handbook and the website to help various stakeholders scale up ‘Eat Right India’ initiatives across the country.
  • The ‘Eat Right India’ movement initiated by FSSAI has been creating awareness among the people about safe, healthy and sustainable dietary habits.To achieve this and to convert the programme  into people’s movement, FSSAI recently announced the Eat Right Challenge.
  • It is an annual competition for 197 Districts and Cities to strengthen the food safety and regulatory environment, build awareness among the consumers and urge them to make better food choices.



RBI releases framework for retail payment entity

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday released a framework for setting up of a pan-India umbrella entity for retail payments systems.
  • This entity, to be incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013, would need to focus on retail payments systems, the RBI said.
  • The umbrella entity will set up, manage and operate new payments systems in the retail space comprising ATMs, white label PoS, Aadhaar-based payments and remittance services.
  • The entity will operate clearing and settlement systems for participating banks and non-banks, identify and manage relevant risks, monitor retail payments system developments and related issues in the country and internationally.
  • The RBI said it will be the responsibility of the entity to frame necessary rules and the related processes to ensure that the system is safe and sound, and that payments are exchanged efficiently. 
  • The entity will be permitted to participate in Reserve Bank’s payment and settlement systems, including having a current account with Reserve Bank, if required. The formation of the umbrella entity has been authorised under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.

India tops in number of organic farmers

  • India ranks first in the number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming. Sikkim became the first state to become fully organic and other states including Tripura and Uttarakhand have set similar targets. 
  • North East India has been traditionally following organic farming and the usage of chemicals in the region is reported to be far less than the rest of the country. The tribal and island territories are also being nurtured to continue their organic cultivation.
  • The Government initiated Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD) and ParamparagatKrishiVikasYojana (PKVY) in 2015 to encourage chemical free farming. 
  • It also aims at assisting farmers to adopt organic farming and improve remunerations due to premium prices. Agri-export Policy 2018, has also given a major thrust in the field of Organic farming in the country. The major organic exports from India have been flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice and pulses. 


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India to assist Bangladesh in fight against COVID

  • Foreign Secretary Harsh VardhanShringla wrapped up his two day visit to Bangladesh on Wednesday after holding a meeting with his Bangaldeshi counterpart Masud Bin Momen in Dhaka.
  • Talking to the media after holding discussion with his Bangladeshi counterpart Masud Bin Momen, Foreign Secretary Shringla said that he had come to Bangladesh as Prime Minister NarendraModi felt that the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries must move forward.
  • Earlier, Foreign Secretary Shringla had called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s gesture of conveying the message and desire to take the relationship forward.
  • During the meeting, various aspects of the bilateral relationship were discussed including development partnership, enhancing connectivity, revival of economy post Covid and cooperation on COVID assistance.
  • The foreign secretary also discussed therapeutics and vaccine in fight against corona, and joint commemoration of the birth centenary year of Bangbandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman.

Pakistan denies possible claims of diplomatic ties with Israel

  • Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has categorically rejected any possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, according to a media report.
  • “Our policy on Israel is clear: The Quaid-i-Azam (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) had said that Pakistan can never accept state of Israel until the people of Palestine get rights and an independent state, Mr. Khan said in an interview to private news channel Dunya TV on Tuesday.
  • Pakistan and Israel do not have diplomatic relations and their aircraft are not allowed to use each other’s airspace.
  • “If we recognise Israel and ignore tyranny faced by the Palestinians, we will have to give up Kashmir as well, and this we cannot do, he said.
  • His remarks came in the backdrop of recent peace overtures between the UAE and Israel, with the former becoming only the third Arab nation to enter into a peace deal with the Jewish state.



Report finds increase in India’s cancer burden

  • Cancer cases in the country are likely to increase to 15.6 lakhs by 2025 — a 12% increase from current estimated cases — based on current trends, according to the National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020. The figures were released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Centre for Disease Informatics & Research (NCDIR), Bengaluru, here on Tuesday.
  • The report also found that in 2020, tobacco-related cancers are estimated to contribute to 27.1% of the total cancer burden, and highest in the northeastern region of the country. Cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus were the most common cancers among men. Cancers of the breast and cervix uteri were the most common cancers among women, the report said.
  • According to a release issued by the ICMR, the report estimates that in 2020, cancer cases in the country will be at 13.9 lakhs. “These estimates are based on information related to cancer collected from 28 Population Based Cancer Registries [PBCRs],” it added.



Hockey India to provide aid to unemployed players

  • Hockey India (HI) today announced it will provide 61 unemployed players, including 34 women, with financial assistance amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Athletes not holding employment are facing constraints due to the pandemic, impacting them adversely.
  • Under the initiative, each player will be provided a sum of 10,000 rupees to help them return to sporting activities. Hockey India officiating President, GyanendroNingombam said the objective of the initiative is to provide basic financial relief to the athletes.


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