Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 October 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 October 2019


::NATIONAL::

GIA presents report of Kashmir and Ladakh post article 370 scrapping

  • A delegation of Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA) presented a ‘Report from Ground Zero’ on Jammu, Kashmir &Ladakh after setting aside of Article 370 & 35A. Founded in 2015, GIA is a group of professional women and entrepreneurs, media persons and academicians committed to social-justice and nation-building.

  • The delegation briefed the MoS (PMO) about the findings of their observations after field study of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in three teams. They also gave their inputs and recommendations.

  • They briefed that common man across religions, sections and various professional backgrounds in J&K has expressed happiness about the decision of the Government to scrap Article 370. The group also interacted with people living in border areas of J&K and took their views into consideration.

  • The MoS (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh said that Jammu & Kashmir was most exploited by the champions of Article 370. Speaking about the threat to ‘Identity’ of Kashmiriyat after scrapping of Article 370, he said that opposite to the common perception, the state was most exploited under the pretext of Article 370.

  • He questioned whether Article 370 is required to save the identity of people in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Bengal. He said that the decision is a revolutionary step and it is difficult to even imagine such initiative being taken. The fruits of this decision will be realised slowly in future, the Minister added.

  • The Minister added that the development model of North East can be replicated in J&K. He added that food processing parks can be opened for apples, strawberry and other fruits on the lines of citrus fruit park in North East.

  • He said that other products of J&K such as Pashmina, saffron also have huge commercial potential which needs to be tapped for the economic well being of people of J&K.

Health department expresses concern about counterfeit food products

  • “Counterfeit food items, being totally illegal, bypass all mandatory quality checks and pose a grave danger to the health of our citizens. It is absolutely imperative that the problem is dealt with effectively” saidSecretary(HFW).

  • Secretary, HFW highlighted the issue of counterfeit food products and requested the Principal Secretaries to hold periodic drives with the help of police authorities so that the menace is kept in check. The need for stepping up surveillance during the festival time was also emphasized.

  • Principal Secretaries were requested to pass on directions to the Food Commissioners;as the implementation of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 primarily rests with the States and UTs, there has to be effective implementation of the same.

  • The Secretary(HFW) further added that strong action against counterfeit food products must be taken and brought to the notice of the public to generate awareness; the Health Secretaries of States/UTs must review the action taken every month and inform FSSAI.

  • Most States also felt that food manufacturers must introduce, track and trace mechanisms for their products. States were requested to cross learn from each other and adopt as many of these best practices as they find feasible.

::ECONOMY::

NPCI to expand UPI transactions globally

  • Indians travelling abroad may soon be able to use the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to pay for goods and services there, according to two bankers in the know of the matter.

  • UPI is an inter-bank fund transfer mechanism run by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and enables instant fund settlement through a smartphone.

  • NPCI is working to enable this feature within the next six months, starting with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore, sources told ET.

  • This is NPCI’s attempt to create a global payment product that can expand the use case of UPI, the banker said. UPI has emerged as a major challenger to card payments, as more and more merchants accept UPI payments. UPI recorded close to 955 million transactions in September, according to the latest data shared by NPCI.

  • “Many global companies like Facebook, Google and Xiaomi have started entering the UPI payments space, which can boost the use case of UPI payments in other geographies,” said one of the two bankers mentioned earlier.

  • The biggest challenge, however, is to onboard merchants in those countries. NPCI will have to rely on banks and merchant aggregators in those geographies to onboard merchants.

CCEA increases MSP of Rabi crops

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister NarendraModi has approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi Crops of 2019-20 to be marketed in Rabi Marketing Season (RMS) 2020-21.

  • The increase in MSP for Rabi Crops for RMS 2020-21 is in line with the principle of fixing the MSPs at a level of at least 1.5 times of the all India weighted average cost of production (CoP), which was announced in the Union Budget 2018-19.

  • This MSP policy whereby the farmers are assured of a minimum of 50 percent as margin of profit is one of the important and progressive steps towards doubling farmers' income by 2022 and improving their welfare substantively.

  • In the case of cereals, FCI and other designated State agencies would continue to provide price support to the farmers. State Governments will undertake procurement of coarse grains with the prior approval of Government and would distribute the entire procured quantity under NFSA.

  • With the intention of giving enough policy thrust to income security of the farmers, Government's focus has shifted from production-centric approach to income-centric one. Enhancing the coverage of PradhanMantriKisanSammanNidhi (PM-KISAN) to all farmers in its first Union Cabinet meeting on 31st May 2019, is another major step in boosting the income of the farmers.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

VP to lead Indian delegation at NAM summit

  • Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu will lead the Indian delegation at the 18th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to be held at Baku, Azerbaijan on 25th to 26th of this month.

  • The theme for the Summit is -Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of the contemporary world. The Ten Principles of Bandung, a political statement encapsulating the need to promote world peace and cooperation were formulated at the Asian-African Conference in 1955.

  • The theme is significant as it relates to the forthcoming 65th anniversary of Bandung Principles in 2020 and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Movement in 2021.

  • The Summit will focus on a whole gamut of contemporary issues such as Terrorism, threats to peace and security, UN reform, climate change, sustainable development, economic governance and south-south cooperation.

  • The participation of the Vice President would further strengthen India’s engagement with NAM and its member countries. Mr Naidu will deliver the national statement at the NAM Summit and hold bilateral meetings with other Heads of States and Governments including the President of the host country, on the sidelines.

  • India is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement which was established in 1961 with 29 members. It has since grown to 120 members to become one of the largest groupings of nation-states.

US to increase troops in Iraq to prevent IS resurgence

  • Defence Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad today amidst reports that US may want to increase the number of troops based in Iraq at least temporarily.

  • Esper said that under the current plan, all US troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and military would continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence in the region.

  • Russia and Turkey reached an agreement yesterday to share control of Syria's northeast that requires Kurdish fighters to clear the entire length of the Syria-Turkey border.

  • The agreement gives Kurdish fighters another 150 hours beginning this afternoon to clear all remaining areas alongside the 440-kilometre Turkey-Syria border.

  • Meanwhile US President Donald Trump said that Turkey was making the ceasefire in northern Syria permanent, prompting the United States to lift recent sanctions.

  • It had imposed sanctions on Turkish imports in response to the violence. Mr. Trump also declared a change of course in US relations with the Middle East, where he said too many American service members had died.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

New national protocol to enumerate snow leopard population in India

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change today launched the first national protocol to enumerate the snow leopard population in the country on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day.

  • The Day is celebrated on October 23 every year to protect and conserve the snow leopards and preserve the beautiful wildlife of the Himalayas.

  • He said snow leopard range countries must strive to double the snow leopard population in the coming decade. He said it is time to think about the green economy and cross country cooperation for the conservation of wildlife. He also expressed happiness that 2,967 tigers reside in India, which is 77 per cent of the world tiger population.

  • India is believed to have 400 to 700 snow leopards spread across Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Poaching is a major threat for the snow leopards.

  • Project Snow Leopard is an initiative of the Environment Ministry which aims to safeguard and conserve India's unique natural heritage of high altitude wildlife populations and their habitats by promoting conservation through participatory policies and actions. Snow leopards play a critical role in their ecosystem as top predators.

::SPORTS::

Praveen kumar wins gold atWushu world championship

  • Praveen Kumar today became the first Indian man to win a Wushu World Championships gold, beating Russel Diaz of Philippines in the 48kg category in Shanghai. The Indian saw off his Filipino opponent 2-1 in the men's Sanda event of the 15th World Wushu Championships.

  • Praveen had earlier defeated Uzbekistan's KhasanIkromov 2-0 in the semi-final on Tuesday to set up the summit clash with Diaz.

  • Among other Indians in the fray, Poonam (women's 75kg) and Sanathoi Devi (women's 52kg) secured silver medals while Vikrant Baliyan bagged the bronze in the men's 60kg category.

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