Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 22 December 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 22 December 2019


::NATIONAL::

Report suggest every 5th fire death in the world is in India

  • With 27,027 deaths, every fifth fire-related death in the world in 2017 took place in India. Around 9 million fire incidents and 1.2 lakh deaths were recorded across the globe that year.
  • Of these incidents, India recorded 1.6 million fires and 27,027 deaths, according to a 195-nation analysis by Global Diseases Burden published in The BMJ Injury Prevention journal recently. 
  • The Indian deaths were 2.5 times the figures in China, where 10,836 people died in fires in 2017. India, along with seven countries, including Pakistan, accounted for over half the deaths due to fires. The study said kids under five and adults above 60 are the biggest fire victims — a trend seen in urban India as well.
  • Earlier, women made up for 80% of the fire victims in Mumbai, but now we have started seeing more senior citizens and children in burn wards,” divulged Dr S Keswani of Airoli Burns Centre in Navi Mumbai.
  • The study identified gender violence as a cause for the high death rate in India; it also cited a study from Karnataka that showed synthetic saris worn by women was a cause.
  • The private sector rarely offers burns treatment as it needs heavy investment but doesn’t earn enough. In Mumbai, only two private hospitals have burns wards, but every public hospital has to treat burns even though only a handful have adequate facilities.

Union ministers attend WEF annual meeting at Davos

  • Union ministers PiyushGoyal and MansukhMandaviya as well as three chief ministers - Amarinder Singh, Kamal Nath and B S Yeddyurappa will join over 100 Indian CEOs in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos next month for the WEF's 50th annual meeting, which will be attended by thousands of rich and powerful from across the globe.
  • Among the global leaders, US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are also expected to attend the high-profile summit, where over 3,000 global leaders would converge to discuss what requires to make it a 'cohesive and sustainable world'. However, there is no official confirmation about the two leaders as yet.
  • There are a number of other heads of state from various countries also who have confirmed their presence for this annual jamboree of the rich and powerful from across the world which is expected to be a much bigger affair this time because it would be World Economic Forum's 50th anniversary.
  • The Geneva-based WEF has selected 'Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World' as the theme for its 2020 annual meeting, which will bring together 3,000 global leaders.
  • The WEF has said the 2020 meeting aims to give a concrete meaning to "stakeholder capitalism", assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress towards the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, and facilitate discussions on technology and trade governance.

::ECONOMY::

IMF wants India to keep up its fiscal deficit targets

  • IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath on Friday said India needs to keep its fiscal deficit target, which would require expenditure rationalisation and increased revenue mobilisation.
  • Speaking at the 92nd Annual Convention of Ficci, she said that in the past few quarters, there has been a steep slowdown in private sector demand and there is now weakness in investment.
  • And, if there is a prolonged weakness in investment, it will affect potential growth, she stressed at the special plenary moderated by Harsh PatiSinghania, former president of Ficci.
  • With tax revenue slowing in a sputtering economy, some states had on Wednesday suggested Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman to go for fiscal expansion and relax the deficit target to 4 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
  • The finance minister in full Budget 2019 reduced the fiscal deficit target to 3.3 per cent, from earlier 3.4 per cent for 2019-20. Keeping in mind its fiscal deficit target, the government has stayed with the borrowing plan for the financial year as announced in the Budget despite a sharp cut in corporate tax rate that is expected to cost Rs 1.45 lakh crore.
     

Infrastructure projects show cost over runs

  • As many as 377 infrastructure projects, each worth Rs 150 crore or more, have been hit by cost overruns of more than Rs 3.94 lakh crore owing to delays and other reasons, according to a report.
  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation monitors infrastructure projects worth Rs 150 crore and above.Of such 1,635 projects, 377 projects reported cost overruns and 565 projects time escalation.
  • According to the report, the expenditure incurred on these projects till September 2019 was Rs 9,96,613.94crore, or 42.55 per cent of the anticipated cost of the projects.
  • However, it said the number of delayed projects decreases to 495 if delay is calculated on the basis of the latest schedule of completion.
  • The brief reasons for time overruns, as reported by various project implementing agencies, are delays in land acquisition, forest clearance and supply of equipment.
  • Besides, there are other reasons like fund constraints, geological surprises, geo-mining conditions, slow progress in civil works, shortage of labour, inadequate mobilisation by the contractor, Maoist problems, court cases, contractual issues, ROU/ROW (right of use/right of way) problems, law and order situation, among others, the report said.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India coveys protest on comments by Malaysian PM

  • India has conveyed strong protest to Malaysia over Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad's comments on India's internal matters.
  • Sources said, the Malaysian Charged ’Affaires was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs today in order to lodge a solemn protest over the remarks made by the Malaysian Prime Minister in Kuala Lumpur.
  • It was conveyed that such remarks are neither in keeping with accepted diplomatic practice of non-interference in each other's internal affairs, nor with the state of bilateral relations. It was also conveyed that such remarks are both ill-informed and insensitive. Malaysia was asked to take a long-term and strategic view of the bilateral relations.
  • External Affairs Ministry had yesterday termed the Malaysian Prime Minister's comment on Citizenship Amendment Act as factually inaccurate. 
  • It said the Act provides for citizenship through naturalization to be fast-tracked for non-citizens who are persecuted minorities from three countries. The Act does not impact in any manner on the status of any citizen of India, or deprive any Indian of any faith of her or his citizenship.

India constructs hostel for Nepal army school

  • The Govt. of India has constructed Girls' Hostel for Nepal Armed Police Force School, Kirtipur. Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Dr. Ajay Kumar inaugurated hostel building at Kirtipur in Kathmandu district today. 
  • Mayor of Kirtipur Municipality, senior officers of Nepal Armed Police Force and political, community leaders also attended the inaugural ceremony.
  • Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) School is an academic institution created under the APF Welfare Service Centre of Nepal Armed Police Force. The school was established in 2005 and it has over 21 per cent of girls students.
  • The new infrastructure constructed with the Government of India’s grant assistance of 40.42 million Nepali Rupees is a two-storied girls' hostel. It comprises 32 rooms including a dormitory, warden room, bathroom, sanitation facilities for girls on each floor and furniture. 
  • The newly built infrastructure is expected to boost the learning environment of students. Government of India is happy to be associated with the project which complements the effort of the Government of Nepal in augmenting infrastructure in the field of education.
     

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Scientists discover oldest forest cover fossil

  • Scientists have discovered the remnants of world’s oldest fossil forest- an extensive network of trees around 386 million years old in a sandstone quarry in United States (US). According to the researchers from Binghamton University, and New York State Museum in U.S., the fossil forest in Cairo would have spread from New York all the way into Pennsylvania and beyond.
  • The findings throw a new light on evolution of trees and transformative role they played in shaping the world we live in.
  • The forest is being assumed to have been looked like a fairly open forest with small to moderate sized coniferous-looking trees with individual and clumped tree-fern like plants of possibly smaller size growing between them.
  • The research shows that the forest was home to at least two types of trees:- (1) Cladoxylopsids, a primitive tree-fern-like plants, lacked flat green leaves, and grew in vast numbers at Gilboa; while (2) Archaeopteris, had a conifer-like woody trunk and frond-like branches which had green flattened leaves.
  • A single example of a third type of tree was also uncovered, which remained unidentified but could possibly have been a lycopod. All these trees reproduced using only spores rather than seeds.
  • Researchers also reported an extensive network of roots which was more than 11 metres in length in some places and belonged to Archaeopteris trees.  It is these long-lived woody roots that transformed interactions of plants and soils and were pivotal to co-evolution of forests and atmosphere.
     

::SPORTS::

India clinches ODI series against West Indies

  • In Cricket, ViratKohli starred with the bat as India defeated West Indies by four wickets in the third and final ODI of the three-match series at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack yesterday. 
  • With this win, India won the series 2-1. This is Men in Blue's tenth consecutive series win over the Windies. Skipper ViratKohli who scored 85, declared Man of the Match.
  • Chasing 316, India got off to a steady start as openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma put on 122 runs for the first wicket. Rohit Sharma made 63 while KL Rahul contributed 77. Rohit Sharma declared Man of the Series. India made 316 for the loss of 6 wickets in 48.4overs
     

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