Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 23 MARCH 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 23 MARCH 2019


::NATIONAL::

Indian Statistical Institute presents report on VVPAT

  • Indian Statistical Institute(ISI) today presented its Report on the sample size of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slip counting to the Chief Election Commissioner Shri Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Shri Ashok Lavasa and ShriSushil Chandra.
  • The Report was presented by Prof. Abhay G. Bhatt, Head ISI, Delhi Centre. It may be recalled that in view of the varying demands for enhanced percentage of VVPAT Slip count during elections in the country, the Commission had engaged the Indian Statistical Institute to systematically analyse and scientifically examine the issue of VVPAT Slip verification with electronic count of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
  • ISI is one of the most prominent and reputed national institution devoted to research, teaching and application of statistics and sampling methodology in the country.
  • Keeping in view their domain expertise and subject specialization, the Commission decided to engage the Institute in arriving at mathematically sound, statistically robust and practically cogent solutions to the issue of a number/percentage of VVPAT slip counts to done during the elections.
  • Before finalizing its report, the Expert Committee had wide ranging consultations with other experts in the field of statistics and examined suggestions received from other groups. This Expert Committee has submitted its Report titled 'Random Sampling For Testing of EVMs via VVPAT Slip Verification' to the Commission today.
  • The Report submitted by the Expert Committee shall now be examined by the Commission and necessary action initiated.

SwachhSarvekshan focuses on SBM outcomes, criticises CSE article

  • An article by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)on the SwachhSurvekshan 2019 has created a wrong impression as the article is factuallyinaccurate. The Government has been addressing the issue of urban sanitation and waste management in a transparent and systematic manner under the aegis of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).
  • The article by CSE appears to have been written without an understanding of the robust methodology used in Swachh Survekshan-2019for ranking cities in an objective and unbiased manner.
  • CSE has been a part of the consultative meeting held by MoHUA in July 2018 with all stakeholders and city representatives to discuss the survey methodology and parameters proposed to be adopted in SwachhSurvekshan 2019.
  • CSE’s implication that the quality of survey was inferior since it was conducted in 28 days is erroneous. The data collection from ULBs was done every month, between September to December 2018.Only the ground level assessment and citizen feedback was done in 28 days.
  • More than 3000 assessors were involved in the survey, and each of the 4,237 ULBs was physically visited by assessors, and every visit has been recorded through geo-tagging and time stamping of the assessors.
  • ULBs were not informed about the exact date when the assessor was visiting their city this year, since assessors were not supposed to visit ULB’s office for any data collectionto have an element of surprise in the direct observation.
  • More importantly, the SS 2019 scores were computed based on assessments made by four different independent third party agencies who evaluated different components of the survey, making the survey objective and unbiased, while adding to the robustness of the methodology.
  • MoHUA values its partnership with all concerned stakeholders including Civil Society Organizations and has been working collaboratively with them to take forward the collective mandate of ‘swachhata’ in Urban India.

::ECONOMY::

Government overshoots disinvestment target

  •  The government has overshot its disinvestment target for the second consecutive year, according to the Ministry of Finance.
  • “As against a target of Rs. 80,000 crore for disinvestment for the current year, the divestment receipts have touched Rs. 85,000 crore today,” Finance Minister ArunJaitley tweeted on Friday.
  •  In 2017-18, the government had earned a little more than Rs. 1 lakh crore from disinvestments against a target of Rs. 72,500 crore.
  • Earlier this month, The Hindu had reported that the government was confident about meeting its disinvestment target for this year despite having achieved only 70% with just 15 days to go.
  • The official quoted then had pegged this on the completion of the Power Finance Corporation’s acquisition of Rural Electrification Corporation.
  • The government has also earned large amounts from the sale of ETFs, with the latest edition, so far, having earned it Rs. 10,000 crore.
  • However, the official database of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) does not reflect the updated figures or sales yet.

Fitch cuts growth forecast to 6.8%

  • Fitch Ratings on Friday cut India’s GDP growth forecast for the next fiscal to 6.8% from 7% estimated earlier on weaker than expected economic momentum.
  • In its latest Global Economic Outlook, Fitch also slashed GDP growth forecast for the current fiscal ending March 2019 to 6.9% from 7.2% projected in the December edition.
  • The 6.9% estimate is a notch lower than the 7% growth estimated by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for the current fiscal.
  • “While we have cut our growth forecasts for the next fiscal year [FY20, ending March 2020] on weaker than expected momentum, we still see Indian GDP growth to hold up reasonably well at 6.8%, followed by 7.1% in FY21,” Fitch said.
  • The rating agency said India’s GDP growth softened for the second consecutive quarter in the October-December period at 6.6% after clocking a growth of 7% and 8% in July-September and April-June periods, respectively. “The slowdown has been driven by cooling activity growth in the manufacturing sector and, to a lesser extent, agriculture. Weaker momentum has been mainly domestically driven,” Fitch said.
  • According to Fitch, the rupee is expected to weaken to 72 to a dollar by the end of December 2019, and further to 73 by December 2020, from 69.82 to a dollar in end December 2018.
  • It estimates oil prices to remain around $65 to a barrel in 2019 and fall to $62.5 to a barrel in 2020, from $71.6 a barrel in 2018.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Pak to receive around 2billion USD from China

  • Cash-strapped Pakistan will receive over 2 billion US Dollars loan from China by Monday to provide a boost to its ailing economy.
  • Pakistan's Finance Ministry has announced that all procedural formalities for the transfer of the 2.1 billion US Dollars loan being provided by the Chinese government have been completed, and the funds will be deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan's account by Monday.
  • Pakistan has received 1 billion US dollars each from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as part of the bailout packages by the two Gulf nations to help shore up Islamabad's dwindling foreign currency reserves.
  • Islamabad is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package. Earlier, Pakistan officials said that Islamabad would seek around 8 billion US dollars from the IMF which would be the biggest package by the Fund for Islamabad.
  • Although the Pakistan government has secured a breathing space from Saudi Arabian and the UAE loans, an IMF programme is essential to unlock access to resources from other multilateral lenders like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as the global capital markets.

Trump agrees to recognize Israel sovereignty

  • President Donald Trump said it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
  • Trump in a tweet last night said that the Golan Heights is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability.
  • Trump's announcement was immediately cheered by Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu, who tweeted that at a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognises Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
  • Trump's announcement coincided with a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Jerusalem, where he became the first high-ranking American official to visit the Western Wall alongside an Israeli prime minister. Trump will host Netanyahu at the White House next Monday and Tuesday.
  • The Israeli leader will be in Washington for the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

India to participate in LIMA expo in Malaysia

  • Langkawi International Maritime Aero Expo (LIMA-2019) is planned in Langkawi, Malaysia from 26 March 2019 to 30 March 2019. Indian Air Force is participating in the Maritime Aero Expo for the first time, during which it will showcase its indigenously developed LCA fighter aircraft. The team departed from Air Force Station Kalaikunda for Langkawi today i.e 22 March 2019 via Myanmar (Yangon).
  • Participation of IAF in LIMA-2019 will provide an opportunity to air-warriors to interact with their Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) counterparts and foster close relationship between the two services.
  • This will serve as a foundation for any future interaction with the Malaysian Air Force. It will also provide an opportunity to RMAF to assess the capabilities of LCA
  • IAF contingent consists of 02 x LCA, 01 x C-130J and one x IL-76 ac along with 27 officers, 42 air-warriors and 11 HAL personnel.

::SPORTS::

India wins SAFF women’s championship

  • In football, India has clinched the SAFF Women's Championship for the fifth time in a row, defeating hosts Nepal 3-1 in the final at Biratnagar. In the first half, DalmiaChhibber of India scored the first goal of the match which was equalled by Nepal's SabitraBhandari at the 33rd minute.
  • In the second half, Grace Dengmei scored the second goal at 63rd minute and AnjuTamang scored third and decisive goal in the 76th minute. This was India's 23rd straight victory in the championship since its inception in 2010

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