Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 21 October 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 21 October 2019


India destroys terror camps in Pak occupied Kashmir

  • Indian Army has destroyed three terror camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and killed ten Pakistani soldiers. In a major counter-offensive after unprovoked firing by Pakistan, Indian Army carried out heavy artillery strikes targeting four terror camps and several Pakistani military positions in Neelam Valley yesterday.

  • Ten terrorists were also killed in the retaliatory action by the Army. Army Chief Gen BipinRawat told media persons that the action by the Indian forces caused substantial harm to the terror infrastructure across the Line of Control (LoC).

  • He said, more information on terrorist casualty is being obtained. Army chief said the terror camps destroyed by the forces were located in Athmuqam, KundalShahi, Jura and one in Leepa Valley.

  • Gen Rawat said, defence minister Rajnath Singh was briefed about the retaliatory action. Gen Rawat said, of late, the Army had received information that terrorists were coming closer to the camps in the forward areas.

  • He said, in the last one month, repeated infiltration attempts were made from the Gurez, Keran, Machil, Uri sectors and south of PirPanjal. Gen Rawat said, Pakistani soldiers are resorting to ceasefire violation to provide support to the infiltration bids by terrorists.

PM embraces vision of inclusive health at G20 Okayama Health conference

  • India has highlighted Prime Minister NarendraModi's vision of 'Sab KaSaath - Sab KaVikas - Sab KaVishwas' for inclusive health along with scheme -- Ayushman Bharat, at the on-going two-day G20 Okayama Health Ministers' Conference in Japan.

  • Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, who represented India at the conference in Okayama City, also highlighted Mr Modi's vision of FIT India Movement and Eat Right campaigns.

  • The deliberations of the G20 Health Ministers focused on four major global health issues like the achievement of Universal Health Coverage, response to population ageing, management of health risks and health security management including Anti-Microbial Resistance and its containment.

  • Dr Vardhan said that New Delhi is on the path to Universal Health Coverage and will contribute effectively in sustaining UHC at the global level.

  • On Response to population ageing, Dr.Vardhan, during his intervention, shared India’s vision for its projected 20 per cent elderly population by 2050. He also told the G20 countries about the efforts made by India to provide accessible, affordable, and high-quality long-term comprehensive health care services to an ageing population.


Finance ministry claims trade negotiations with U.S going in full speed

  • Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman has said that negotiations between India and the US on a trade deal are going in full speed. She also expressed hope that an agreement will be structured soon.

  • The ongoing trade deal negotiations briefly came up for discussion during a pull-aside between Mrs Sitharaman and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the IMF headquarters. Mnuchin is scheduled to visit India early next month.

  • India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products under its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). India also wants to greater market access for its products from sectors, including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.

  • On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, and cut on import duties on some ICT products. The US has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India.

  • In 2018-19, India's exports to the US stood at 52.4 billion US Dollars, while imports were 35.5 billion US Dollars. Trade deficit dipped from 21.3 billion US Dollars in 2017-18 to 16.9 billion US Dollars in 2018-19.

FPI’s infuse capital heavily amid government’s effort to revive domestic demand

  • Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) have infused a net sum of Rs 5,072 crore into the Indian capital markets in October so far amid the government's efforts to revive domestic demand.

  • In the preceding month, FPIs had invested a net Rs 6,557.8 crore in the domestic capital markets (both equity and debt). This came following net outflows in July and August.

  • As per the latest depositories data, foreign investors put in a net sum of Rs 4,970 crore in equities and a net Rs 102 crore in the debt market during October 1-18, taking the cumulative net investment to Rs 5,072 crore.

  • Reacting to the inflow of funds in October, head of research at Samco Securities, Umesh Mehta said, "The worst seems to be behind us and markets have started to discount the forward looking Budget and revival of consumption."

  • Regarding the future course of FPI flows, Harsh Jain, co-founder and COO, Groww, said, "The momentum is expected to continue in the long term as India is a very attractive investment destination with sound fundamentals. The markets are extending gains in the hopes of better quarterly results.

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Brussels pushes for Brexit deal ratification

  • Brussels officials today pressed on with plans to ratify the Brexit deal as European leaders considered Prime Minister Boris Johnson's reluctant request for a Brexit delay.

  • Ambassadors and senior officials from the other 27 member-states met after British MPs forced Mr Johnson to send EU Council President Donald Tusk a late request to postpone the withdrawal.

  • An EU diplomat said the European Union was keeping all options open and had therefore initiated the ratification process so that it could be handed over to the European Parliament the next day. He said that the EU would probably pursue the strategy until there was clarity on the British side.

  • After today's talks, EU negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that it was a very short and normal meeting of the EU ambassadors to launch the next steps of the EU ratification of the agreement.

Srilanka removed from FATF grey list

  • Sri Lanka has been removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list of countries at risk for money laundering.

  • Minister of Finance MangalaSamaraweera said in a statement that FATF in Paris informed the removal of Sri Lanka's name from the blacklist commending the new measures taken by the country on financial security.

  • Sri Lanka was first included in the blacklist in 2011. By 2012, Sri Lanka was listed in the list as a dangerous country with no commitment to the financial security plan.

  • The statement said the government together with the Central Bank and other financial institutions, has taken several measures since 2016 to ensure the financial security of the country.

  • As a result, Sri Lanka has declared a cooperating state in 2016 and the FATF put Sri Lanka on a grey list from November 2017. Sri Lanka set out a sound framework to bring the commitment of all the stakeholders to enhance the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards in order to improve its compliance and the country rating. It reported the progress achieved in the implementation of the action plan regularly to the FATF.


Study finds Mars once had salt rich likes similar to earth

  • Mars once had salt lakes that went through wet and dry phases similar to those on the Earth, according to a study that indicates that the red planet's climate 'dried out' over a long time.

  • According to the researchers, including those from Texas A&M University in the US, liquid water on Mars may have become unsustainable and evaporated as the planet's atmosphere became thinner, and the pressure at the surface became lesser.

  • The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, noted that over three billion years ago, the lake that was present in Gale Crater -- an immense 95-mile-wide rocky basin that is being explored with the NASA Curiosity rover since 2012 -- underwent a drying episode possibly linked to the global drying of Mars.

  • The researchers said that the salt ponds on Mars are similar to some found on the Earth such as those in a region called Altiplano near the Bolivia-Peru border.

  • Nachon added that the Altiplano is an arid, high-altitude plateau where rivers and streams from mountain ranges "do not flow to the sea but lead to closed basins, similar to what used to happen at Gale Crater on Mars."

  • The study also noted the types of chemical elements present in the liquid water that was present at the red planet's surface at the time, and the type of environmental changes any potential life forms on Mars may have had to cope with, had they existed.


Garg and Rawatwins Egyptian international doubles

  • In badminton, KuhooGarg and DhruvRawat put up a brilliant effort to win the mixed doubles title at the Egypt International 2019 in Cairo yesterday. The unseededGarg and Rawat held their nerves for a tight 21-16, 22-20 victory over the third seeds UtkarshArora and KarishmaWadkar in an all-Indian final.

  • Garg and Rawat showed excellent understanding as they had accounted for the second seeds Ahmed Salah and HadiaHosny 21-16 21-15 of Egypt in the second round and then followed it up with a comeback 16-21 21-16 21-9 win over fourth seeds KoceilaMammeri and Linda Mazri of Algeria in the semi-finals.

  • Garg, however, failed to have double delight as she later went down in the women's doubles final with SanyogitaGhorpade.

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