Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 23 January 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 23 January 2020


PM reviews progress of several projects through PRAGATI interactive session

  • Prime Minister NarendraModi today chaired the 32nd PRAGATI interaction and discussed progress of several projects.

  • Out of these, nine were delayed projects worth over Rs.24000 crore spread over nine states including Odisha, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka Kerala and Uttar Pradesh.

  • The delayed projects are related to Railways, Road Transport and Highways and Petroleum and Natural Gas. During the meeting, Mr.Modi also reviewed the progress under insurance schemes of PradhanMantriJeevanJyotiBimaYojana and PradhanMantriSurakshaBimaYojana .

  • The Prime Minister also reviewed the progress under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems project- a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-Governance.

  • Our correspondent reports that this was the first PRAGATI meeting of the year 2020. It marked Prime Minister’s thirty-second interaction through PRAGATI - the ICT based multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation, involving Central and State governments.

  • In the previous interactions, the Prime Minister had reviewed a total of 269 projects with a total investment of 12.30 lakh crorerupees.ThePrime Minister has also reviewed the resolution of grievance redressal related to 47 government programmes and schemes across 17 diverse sectors.

Centre prepared to take challenge of coronavirus outbreak

  • Union Health Ministry has said that government is on and fully prepared to deal with Novel Corona virus outbreak in China. Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said, a total 9,156 passengers from 43 flights were screened for novel coronavirus infection till Tuesday at the seven identified airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

  • She said, till now, no cases have been detected. Ms Sudan said, passengers travelling from China requested to report to nearest public health facility in case they feel any symptoms.

  • Meanwhile, the death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak in China has reached 17. The confirmed infection cases have also sharply risen to more than 550 on Wednesday. The cases of the deadly pneumonia were reported from the US, Hong Kong, Macao and Mexico.

  • According to WHO, common symptoms of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) strain include respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

  • In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.


NIIF all set to launch its own non bank lender

  • Sensing a huge market opportunity to provide liquidity support to cash-starved Indian infrastructure companies, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, is all set to launch a nonbank lender of its own.

  • The fund will have $400-500 million of seed capital and plans to achieve a loan book of $3 billion in the next couple of years. NIIF has begun discussions with global institutions, pension funds and domestic insurance firms to secure sponsors for the NBFC.

  • But the NIIF lending arm would operate in infrastructure and provide money to projects. The NIIF’s Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF) already has a presence in infrastructure debt space through its buyout of IDFC Infrastructure Finance Limited (IFL), a non-banking finance company registered with the RBI as an Infrastructure Debt Fund (IDF). IDF’s focus is on refinancing operating infrastructure projects with stable cash flows and raise matching long-term liabilities.

  • NIIF is also set for its debut deal in India’s road sector. The SWF will buy two road assets of debtridden Essel Group for an enterprise value of Rs 2,000 crore.

India ranks well in Women, Business and Law Index 2020

  • India gained 4% year-on-year on its score on the World Bank study of women, business and law (WBL) 2020. The country scored 74.4 out of the perfect score of 100 on the WBL Index.

  • The World Bank study analyses laws and regulations affecting women’s economic opportunity in 190 economies across the eight indicators - mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension.

  • India overtook Maldives to command the highest WBL score in the South Asian region in 2020.The World Bank study mentions the measure taken by the state of Maharashtra to eliminate restrictions on women’s ability to work in jobs deemed dangerous.

  • Incidentally, India’s score aligns with the global mean. Women, on average, have just three-fourths of the legal rights afforded to men globally, as per the WBL study.

  • The study finds that over time, reforms increasing women’s equality of opportunity contribute to more successful economies, higher female labour force participation and better development outcomes.

  • Over the last two years, 40 economies from all regions and income groups have made women’s economic empowerment a priority by executing 62 reforms facilitating women’s entry into the workforce.

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Norway tops EIU democracy index, Bangladesh improves 8 ranks

  • Bangladesh has improved its ranking by 8 points in the EIU Democracy Index released today. The country has been ranked at 80th position with an overall score of 5.88 on a scale of 10 this year compared to 88th position in 2018. It scored 7.83 in terms of electoral process and pluralism and 4.38 on the political culture sub-index.

  • Norway is at the top with an overall score of 9.71 while North Korea is at the bottom of the index.Overall, 2019 marked the worst year of global democracy score since 2006 when the rankings were first published.

  • However, Bangladesh continues to be placed in the category of hybrid democracies. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) methodology hybrid regimes are marked by substantial electoral irregularities and government pressure on opposition parties.

  • The EIU Democracy Index provides ranking for the state of democracy worldwide in 165 independent states and two territories.The Index measures score under five sub-categories namely electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government; political participation, political culture; and civil liberties.

  • According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s measure of democracy, almost one-half of the world’s population live in a democracy of some sort, although only 5.7% reside in a full democracy.More than one-third of the world’s population live under authoritarian rule, with a large share being in China.

India and Tunisia to work closely in multilateral forums

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Tunisian counterpart SabriBachtobji on Wednesday during which the two leaders focused on expanding the bilateral economic cooperation and agreed to work closely in multilateral forums.

  • Dr Jaishankar arrived in Tunis earlier yesterday on the concluding leg of his three-day two-nation trip to Niger and Tunisia. The tour is his first outreach to the African continent after becoming the Foreign Minister last year.

  • Later, Dr Jaishankar met Tunisian Parliament Speaker RachedGhannouchi and discussed on expanding exchanges, especially between Parliamentary institutions and civil society, between the two countries.

  • Dr Jaishankar also met President Kais Saied and the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a fair, just and a rule-based global order.


NMCG begins wetland conservation along the Ganges

  • The National Mission of Clean Ganga (NMCG) has taken up the initiative under NamamiGange Project to conserve wetlands of the Ganges basin. The primary aim of NamamiGange project is to rejuvenate the river by increasing its flow. It also includes recharging aquifers and conservation of wetlands.

  • The NMCG along with the State Wetland authorities will identify and prepare plans in conserving wetlands.

  • Some of the wetlands are degraded through the drainage, landfill and over exploitation. For instance, the recently closed SisamauNala drainage in Kanpur contaminated the underground water and also river ecosystem in the region.

  • India differentiates its wetlands into 8 categories based on their regional presence. It includes Deccan Plateau in the south, saline expanses in Rajasthan, Gulf of Kutch and Gujarat, delta wetlands of India’s East Coast, lakes and rivers in mountain regions of Ladakh and Kashmir, marshes and swamps in northeast India and Himalayan foothills and mangroves of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


Nandhidha posts win over Praggnanandha in Gibralter chess festival

  • India's Woman International Master P V Nandhidhaa stunned compatriot R Praggnanandhaa in the opening round of the Masters category in the 18th Gibraltar Chess Festival. Nandhidhaa outplayed Praggnanandhaa in 67 moves in a Classical Sicillian game in the tournament that began yesterday at Gibralter.

  • Former world champion VeselinTopalov of Bulgaria beat India's Sankalp Gupta in 25 moves while China's Wang Hao, one of the contenders for the title, put it across Martin Percivaldi to make a smooth start. India's PranavAnand posted an impressive win over Turkish Grandmaster Emre Can.

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