Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 25 APRIL 2019
Vice President urges need for integrated farming to increase farm
- The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has stressed the
need to promote integrated farming practices to improve the productivity of
livestock and double farmers’ income.
- Referring to a study, Shri Naidu said that there were no suicides in
families of farmers who diversified into allied activities like poultry,
dairy or aquaculture. He observed that farming households with livestock
would be able to better withstand distress caused due to extreme weather
conditions and crop failures.
- Quoting NSSO statistics, estimates, the Vice President said that rural
India had an estimated 90.2 million agricultural households and facilitating
sustainable income for all these households must be the primary endeavor for
- The Vice President said that a healthy and robust agricultural sector
was an important prerequisite to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth in
India. He called for measures to make farming a lucrative career
opportunity, especially for the youth, by making agriculture economically
viable and financially rewarding.
- Saying that Agriculture industry contributes 17% of India’s total GDP,
out of which, the 27% comes from Animal Husbandry and overall, the dairy,
poultry and aqua industries contribute 4.4% to the nation’s GDP, the Vice
President said that these numbers signify the crucial role played by these
sectors in our economy.
Indian Army plans to construct underground tunnel for storing ammunitions
- Indian Army is planning to construct underground tunnels for storage of
ammunition along the border with China and Pakistan and Public Sector
Undertaking NHPC Limited is being roped in for the purpose, army sources
- “Indian Army is in the process of executing pilot projects for
construction of semi underground and cavern type ammunition storage
construction through NHPC Ltd., for which a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
will be signed in the next few days,” an Army source said on Wednesday.
- Underground storage offers improved safety, easier camouflage from enemy
observation and satellite imagery and protection from enemy strikes like
those seen during the aerial engagement on February 27, a day after the
Balakot air strike when Pakistan Air Force jets targeted Indian army
installations along the Line of Control (LoC). Major armies, including China
and the U.S., already use underground ammunition storage, a second source
- These tunnels will be built in high altitude areas in the Northern and
Eastern borders. Initially, four pilot projects would be taken up at four
different locations along the Northernborder and in Jammu and Kashmir at a
cost of Rs. 15 crore, the source said. “These are expected to be completed
within two years.”
- As the conditions in the caverns are controlled, it ensures better
safety of sensitive ammunition minimising accidental explosions.
RBI divests stake in NABARD and NHB
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has divested its entire stake held in
National Housing Bank (NHB), the regulator for housing finance companies,
and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) to the
government, which now holds 100% in these entities.
- The transactions were completed on February 26 (Nabard) and March 19 (NHB).RBI
had 100% shareholding in NHB, which was divested for Rs. 1,450 crore.
- The Nabard stake was divested in two phases — RBI had 72.5% stake in
Nabard amounting to Rs. 1,450 crore, out of which 71.5%, worth Rs. 1,430
crore was divested in October 2010 and the residual shareholding was
divested on February 26 this year for Rs. 20 crore.
- “Divestment of RBI’s stake in NABARD and NHB has its basis in the
recommendation of Narasimham Committee II and the Discussion Paper prepared
by RBI on Harmonizing the Role and Operations of Development Financials
Institutions and Banks,” the Reserve Bank of India said.
Implementation of price controls affects FDI in medical sector
- Blanket implementation of price controls has contributed to a drastic
fall in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the medical device sector, say
industry insiders, pointing to a reduction from $439 million in 2016 to $66
million in 2018.
- Sectors in India which attract the highest FDI according to government
figures include services sector, computer software and hardware and
- Meanwhile, in 2015 the Centre approved 100% FDI in the medical devices
sector via automatic route. Previously medical devices, which came under the
pharma sector, could take in 100% FDI through automatic route only in case
of new ventures. Further approval of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB)
was needed in case of acquisition of existing companies.
- The break-through came after the industry urged approval for FDI through
automatic route, pointing out that there were no big firms for medical
devices in India, and hence no threat of merger or acquisition.
- The medical device industry is highly technology and capital dependent
and experts say it is vital “that the global community be kept engaged for
this wealth and technology inflow as well as to help co-create an ecosystem
for manufacturing of medical devices in India.”
- The group has now demanded that India should work towards “resuming
collaboration with the capital, technology and export markets of the world.”
U.S to send armed troops to Mexican border
- President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the U.S. is sending armed
soldiers to the southern border after Mexican soldiers recently “pulled
guns” on U.S. troops, escalating his war of words with Mexico on
- Mr. Trump was apparently referring to an April 13 incident in which
Mexican troops reportedly questioned and pointed their weapons at two U.S.
troops conducting surveillance on the border.
- “Mexico's soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers,
probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the border. Better
not happen again!” he tweeted. “We are now sending armed soldiers to the
- Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government would
analyse the incident, take into account Mr. Trump's comments, and act “in
keeping with law within the framework of our sovereignty.”
- “The most important thing is to tell (Mr. Trump) is that we are not
going to fight with the government of the United States. We want a
relationship of mutual respect and cooperation for development,” he said.
Hongkong jails umbrella movement protesters
- Four prominent leaders of Hong Kong's democracy movement were jailed on
Wednesday for their role in organising mass protests in 2014 that paralysed
the city for months and infuriated Beijing.
- The prison terms are the latest hammer blow to the city's beleaguered
democracy movement which has seen key figures jailed or banned from standing
as legislators since their demonstrations shook the city but failed to win
- Nine activists were convicted earlier in April of at least one charge in
a prosecution that deployed rarely used colonial-era public nuisance laws
over their participation in the Umbrella Movement protests, which called for
free elections to appoint the city's leader.
- Their trial renewed alarm over shrinking freedoms under an assertive
China which has rejected demands by Hong Kong protesters for a greater say
in how the financial hub is run.
- Two key leaders of the mass protests sociology professor Chan Kin-man,
60, and law professor Benny Tai, 54 received the longest sentences of 16
months in jail, sparking angry chants from supporters outside.
- The jail terms are the steepest yet for anyone involved in the 79-day
protest which vividly illustrated the huge anger particularly among Hong
Kong's youth over the city's leadership.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Scientists develop protein against anti-bacterial infections
- In yet another attempt to find an alternative to
bacteria-resistant antibiotics, scientists at the Council of Scientific &
Industrial Research - Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB)
have found out that milk of an egg-laying mammal contains a novel
anti-microbial protein that keeps its young ones safe from infections.
- Echidnas, also known as spiny anteaters, are unique egg-laying
mammals found only in Australia and New Guinea. Their young ones hatch from
eggs at a very early stage of development and depend completely on their
mother’s milk. But the mammary glands of the female echidnas are devoid of
nipples, forcing the young ones to lick milk from the mother’s body surface
and potentially making them vulnerable to micro-organisms.
- However, nature protects its own. A research team led by scientist
Satish Kumar found out that the milk of the echidna has a protein that can
puncture the cell membranes of multiple bacterial species, thus destroying
the source of infection.
- The scientist said that the protein could be used as an
alternative to antibiotics. The research team has found out ways to produce
the protein in large quantities using E. coli . Scientists pointed out that
there is a rise of superbugs due to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics by
the animal husbandry industry to raise healthy livestock.
- These superbugs can cause mastitis, an infection of the mammary
gland, in lactating dairy animals. Dr. Kumar’s team has been able to show
that the protein from echidna milk is effective against mastitis-causing
P.U Chitra wins gold in Asian athletics
- PU Chitra won the gold medal in the 1500-metre women's final at
the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships being held at Doha in Qatar on
Wednesday, the final day of the event. She recorded a time of 4 minutes and
14.56 seconds to give India a third gold medal of the meet.
- Chitra, who had been off the track with a knee injury for three
months since her bronze medal at the Asian Games last year, has proved her
doubters wrong with her showing.
- In the men's 1500-metre final a little later, Ajay Kumar Saroj
also put up a great show to clinch the silver medal, finishing only behind
the gold medallist from Bahrain.
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