Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 February 2019
World bank study reveals ganga basin states may face severe crop failures in
- The Ganga river basin could see crop failures rise three-fold and
drinking water shortage go up by as much as 39% in some States between now
and 2040, says an assessment commissioned by the World Bank and submitted to
the Central Water Commission.
- If there is no intervention, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar
Pradesh and Bihar are likely to see a deficit in irrigation water of 28%,
10%, 10% and 15% respectively in 2040 as compared to the current levels.
Madhya Pradesh would see a 39%, Delhi 22% and Uttar Pradesh a 25% deficit in
drinking water during the same period, the assessment released earlier this
- The basin provides over a third of India’s available surface water
and contributes more than half the national water use, of which 90% is for
- The report on the future of the Ganga basin comes at a time when
experts have raised concerns over the lack of adequate safeguards to ensure
the river’s health. The government has committed to reduce pollution in the
Ganga by 70% by March 2019.
- There aren’t any easy solutions, the report cautioned, pointing
out that there is no ‘silver bullet’ intervention that can solve all
problems. Combinations of different interventions such as increasing water
use efficiency and implementing a ‘more job per drop’ rather than striving
for wholesale crop production are needed, it said.
- The government was to have operationalised the Ganga law to
address the issue of the river’s ecology. The lack of such a law has
triggered hunger strikes, mainly by activists in Haridwar, to give effect to
Government reiterates commitment to farmer welfare,inaugurates PM KISAN
- To provide an assured income support to the small and marginal
farmers, the Government is launching the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi
(PM-KISAN). Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families,
having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income
support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.
- A small and marginal landholder farmer family for the purpose of
the calculation of the benefit is defined as “a family comprising of
husband, wife and minor children (upto 18 years of age) who collectively own
cultivable land upto 2 hectare as per land records of the concerned
- The existing land-ownership system in the concerned States/UTs
will be used for identification of beneficiaries. Those whose names appear
in land records as on 01.02,2019 are eligible for benefit. If a Landholder
Farmer Family (LFF) has land parcels spread across different village/revenue
records, then land will be pooled for determining the benefit.
- The benefit shall be transferred by Government of India to the
bank account of the beneficiaries through State Notional Account. For
transfer of benefit, District-wise beneficiaries lists shall be certified
and uploaded by the States/UTs on the PM-KISAN Portal of Govt. of India and
the funds will be electronically transferred to the beneficiary’s bank
account by Gol through State Notional Account on a pattern similar to MNREGS.
- Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Shri Sanjay
Agarwal has requested State/UT Govts to immediately initiate the work of
identification of beneficiaries and uploading the relevant data for release
of funds by Govt. of India in the bank accounts of eligible farmer families.
NITI aayog hosts conference on Future Indian Banking
- NITI Aayog co-hosted a conference on “The Future of Indian
Banking” on February 22, 2019, with the Foundation for Economic Growth and
Welfare (EGROW Foundation). Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog,
inaugurated the event.
- The conference aimed to increase and elevate the discourse on the
banking sector in India, and help develop insights to inform the continued
evolution of the Indian banking sector for optimally supporting the growing
credit needs of the Indian economy.
- Dr. Rajiv Kumar highlighted the tremendous progress made by the
banking system in the past four years that provided a strong foundation for
a long runway for expanding credit and supporting accelerating growth of
- He indicated that there was still a lot of work to be done in
improving the financial system and furthering reforms in the financial
- Technology has become critically important for banking already and
will continue to become more important in future. This will serve to bring
banking closer to the customer, including those in rural areas, and also
bring tremendous efficiencies with greater speed of service at much lower
- Appropriate skilling of banking human resources is necessary to
keep pace with best credit practices and new technology-based banking
paradigm. In addition, banking staff needs to be trained to prepare for a
larger role of banking in expanding the Indian economy.
- The event hosted over 200 domestic and international participants,
including policy makers, academicians, researchers, professionals, and
students from various banks, universities and institutes.
Stable employment key to housing demand says Financial experts
- Growth in stable employment opportunities and addressing local
infrastructure concerns are key for housing demand to go up in established
cities, said Srinivas Acharya, managing director of Sundaram BNP Paribas
- “The affordable and above affordable sector of housing do see a
definite demand whenever the government addresses the employment generation
issues and the infrastructural points,” he added.
- “Interest rates do not drive the sentiments any longer. The need
for house does drive. The need is certainly there, but the local
infrastructural issues have to be addressed,” he added.
- “As for the impact of the reduction in Repo rate, debt-market is
yet to react. We do see a reduction of 10 basis points, but not wide
spread,” he added.
- Sundaram BNP Paribas Home Finance, he said, had not faced any
liquidity pressure. “Rather, we have been able to raise fresh loans at
attractive rates. Specifically on commercial papers, we do see rates easing
up quite a lot. We did raise one-year CP for Rs. 100 crore recently at a
very good rate,” he added.
- “With the increased push to infrastructure and tax-benefits for
building affordable houses, the budget has certainly given a very positive
push. But, what ails the construction sector is the absence of established
norm for lending to this sector. There is a general panic whenever a builder
goes bust for his own reason,” Mr. Acharya said.
India all set to attend OIC meeting next month
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been invited to
deliver an address at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu
Dhabi next month.
- This is the first time that a leader of the non-Muslim country has
been invited to the OIC conference.
- Ms Swaraj will be the Guest of Honour and address the inaugural
plenary of the 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC on
the 1st and 2nd of next month.
- She will attend the two-day meeting at the invitation by Foreign
Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
- The OIC has a specially designated “Kashmir contact group” that
coordinates positions at the United Nations, often led by Pakistan, to
protest alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and invoke UN
- In 2018 alone, the OIC had issued no less than five statements
specifically dealing with the situation in J&K, and calling for the
international community to intervene.
- Coming on the heels of statements of solidarity from the UN
Security Council and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) over the Pulwama
attack, the speech at the OIC inaugural plenary is also expected to take
forward India’s case for action against the Jaish-e-Mohammad and strictures
- In a statement, the External Affairs Ministry said, New Delhi sees
the invitation as a milestone in the comprehensive strategic partnership
with the UAE.
- It is also a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million
Muslims in India and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.
Venezuelan opposition blocking aid from neighbouring countries
- Venezuela’s Opposition and activists prepared on Saturday to
confront troops stationed along the country’s borders to block their plan to
bring in food and medicine that authorities are calling a veiled U.S.-backed
- Opposition volunteers in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia planned
to arrive at the border to help carry humanitarian aid to a sick and hungry
population suffering from an economic meltdown under President Nicolás
- While the need for basic food and medicines is real, the effort is
also meant to embarrass military officers who continue to support Mr.
Maduro's increasingly isolated government.
- Juan Guaidó, recognised by most Western nations as the country’s
legitimate head of state, defied court orders not to leave Venezuela by
arriving on Friday in the Colombian border city of Cúcuta, where aid from
the U.S. and Colombian governments is stockpiled in warehouses.
- Mr. Maduro blames the country’s dire situation on U.S. sanctions
that have blocked the country from obtaining financing and have hobbled the
OPEC nation’s oil industry. Ms. Rodríguez says the aid is poisoned.
- UN Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres urged Venezuelan authorities
to refrain from using lethal force against protesters. The U.S. “strongly
condemns the Venezuelan military’s use of force against unarmed civilians
and innocent volunteers” on the border with Brazil, the White House said.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
NASA gives approval to Space X for ISS mission
- NASA has given SpaceX the green light to test a new crew capsule
by first sending an unmanned craft with a life-sized mannequin to the
International Space Station.
- “We’re go for launch, we’re go for docking,” said William Gerstenmaier,
the associate administrator with NASA Human Exploration and Operations.
- NASA signed contracts in 2014 with SpaceX and Boeing for the
companies to shuttle U.S. astronauts to the ISS.
- NASA ended its space-shuttle program in 2011 and since then has
relied on buying spots on Russian Soyuz rockets to send U.S. astronauts to
the orbiting ISS.
- “This is an absolutely critical first step that we do as we move
towards returning the crewed launch capability back here to the U.S.,” said
Mr. Gerstenmaier, speaking at a press conference in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- The March 2 flight will be identical to a flight that is set to
take two astronauts to the space station later in the year, possibly in
- The Crew Dragon capsule has seven seats. It should dock with the
ISS on March 3, then detach and return to the Earth on March 8.
Indian Hockey captain named AHF player of the year
- The Asian Hockey Federation has honoured Indian skipper Manpreet
Singh with the 2018 Player of the Year award.
- Women team's striker Lalremsiami has bagged the Rising Player of
The Year prize.
- Manpreet led the Indian team to an unbeaten streak at the Asian
Champions Trophy in Muscat where the team was declared joint winners with
- He also contributed to the team's silver medal win at the FIH
Champions Trophy in Breda.
- The 18-year-old Lalremsiami put up an impressive performance as a
striker at the 2018 World Cup. She was also a part of the Youth Olympics in
Buenos Aires where the under-18 team won a silver medal.