Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 25 August 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 25 August 2019


Central team to conduct assessment of flood situation in states

  • In pursuance of a significant decision taken by the Union Minister for Home Affairs, ShriAmit Shah, in the High Level Committee (HLC) meeting held on 19th August 2019.

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) to visit the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala affected by recent floods.

  • The IMCT for the State of Karnakata, which is led by ShriShriPrakash, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, is visiting Karnataka today to have first hand on-the-spot assessment of damages caused and relief work carried out by the State administration.

  • Till now, the IMCTs used to visit the affected States only once after the receipt of memorandum from the concerned affected State.

  • The same IMCT will again visit the State after submission of the Memorandum for detailed assessment of the damages and relief operations conducted for making final recommendations for allocation of additional funds.

Vice president says NEP to provide India-centric education

  • Highlighting that the Centre is in the process of finalising the National Education Policy, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu said when it is implemented, it will provide India-centric education that will transform the nation into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society.

  • Addressing the 150th birth anniversary of philanthropist DharmamurthiRaoBahadurCalavalaCunnanChetty here on Saturday, he said the policy would enhance the role for charitable organisations in school education by easing the regulatory overload.

  • While people could learn as many languages as possible, they must first learn their mother tongue, he said. Referring to some people creating controversy over learning other languages, he said neither there should be imposition of any language nor opposition to learning a new language.

  • Lauding DharmamurthiRaoBahadurCalavalaCunnanChetty’s (DRBCCC) Charities, which marks its centenary, for running a number of educational institutions that provide quality education to students from all sections of society, he said Mr.Chetty’s life and philanthropy must be an inspiration to businessmen today to contribute to society.

  • He said the late philanthropist’s commitment to charity, particularly in education, was so deep-rooted that he bequeathed all his wealth for charity through a will.


MSME’s seek more relief from Finance ministry

  • Despite Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman announcing several initiatives on Friday for providing relief to the MSME sector, a section of the industry said that those measures alone would not help it come out of its problems.

  • Other refunds such as GST and TDS must be done immediately, and not within 30 days, he said. The Centre has to keep on hold any demand for payment by MSMEs on statuary claims of the past, for the next three months as MSMEs have no money left.

  • “The government has to increase NPA norms for MSMEs from 3 months to six months on default period,” he added. Mr.Ranganathan said the biggest challenge for MSMEs is unsold inventory, which had led to cash flow and unemployment issues.

  • To address this, the government has to offer up to 25% of the stockholding by an MSME. as certified by the auditors. asadhoc facility to tide over immediate cash requirements to help clear salary dues.

  • This will help enable individual buying capacity, he said. The government should consider launching an e-marketing portal and increasing its procurement to absorb inventory available with MSMEs, he added.

  • Third, to address the problem of employment, the government should waive payment of EPF/ESI for existing staff for the next three months, he said. “The government has to provide 50% salary subsidy for employees working in a unit with less than 25 employees.”

Government to bring out new plan to help power sector

  • The government is working on a new scheme involving reforms, incentive and investment support for the power sector, which has over Rs. 4 lakh crore of exposure, as the stress cannot be resolved under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) process.

  • Union Finance Secretary Subash Chandra Garg said, “The power sector has distressed assets worth65,000MW to75,000MW and it is worth over Rs. 4 lakh crore.

  • When asked about the government’s plans for reviving the sector, Mr.Garg said, “We are talking about new schemes, where reforms can be brought in backed by incentive and investment support by the government. The key in power sector is that power needs to be paid for. The scheme is being discussed. Let’s hope we can do it soon.”

  • Mr.Garg advocated the involvement of asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) for resolving stress in the power sector instead of resolving under the provisions of existing bankruptcy laws.

  • On UjwalDiscom Assurance Yojana UDAY scheme revival, Mr.Garg said, “The issue that the UDAY was trying to solve, is to make sure that power is being paid for. Even post UDAY, some entities started delaying payment and Rs. 40,000 crore bills are unpaid.

  • “We have recently brought in a mechanism that you have to have a letter of credits (LC) before you buy power and LCs will be encashed if you fail to pay,” he added.

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India -Bahrain sign key agreements

  • Prime Minister NarendraModi arrived in Bahrain today on a two-day state visit. He was given a red-carpet welcome with a guard of honour at the airport.

  • Four agreements were signed in the fields of Culture, Space, Solar alliance and an MOU on the roll-out of RuPay card. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Modi said he looked forward to more bilateral cooperation in various sectors.

  • Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa expressed his condolences at the passing away of former Finance Minister ArunJaitley and former External Affairs Minister SushmaSwaraj.

  • This is the maiden visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Bahrain. More than 3 and a half million Indians live here.

  • Both countries have had economic and trade relations for several centuries. Bahrain's investment in India amounts to 173 billion dollars through FDI.

  • On the other hand, India has 23 branches of prominent Indian banks and 3181 joint ventures registered here. Bahrain launched Little India in Bahrain project in 2015 to acknowledge and mark the contribution of the Indian community to the history and progress of Bahrain.

Brazil deploys Military to contain Amazon forest fire

  • Brazil has pressed 40,000 troops and military aircraft into action to fight massive Amazon forest fires.

  • After international pressure to contain fires, Brazilian President JairBolsonaro authorised the use of the military to battle the huge blazes, saying he is committed to protecting the Amazon region.

  • The armed forces will collaborate with public security and environmental protection agencies to douse the forest fires.

  • The blazes have prompted an international outcry as well as demonstrations in Brazil against President's handling of the environmental crisis.

  • Bolsonaro has previously described rainforest protection as an obstacle to Brazil's economic development. His critics say the Amazon forest absorbs vast amounts of greenhouse gasses and is crucial for efforts to contain climate change.


Researchers develop waterproof material using fly ash

  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have developed a cheap waterproofing material by coating fly ash, a waste by-product from coal-based thermal power plants, with stearic acid, which is a surfactant.

  • While fly ash is extremely water-loving (hydrophilic), it turns into a highly water-repelling surface once coated with stearic acid.

  • The stearic acid has a hydrophilic part called the head and hydrophobic portion called the tail. While the head of stearic acid which is hydrophilic binds to fly ash particles, the water-repelling tail remains free. Numerous free hydrophobic tails of stearic acid makes the fly ash surface water repellent.

  • Fly ash varies in size from 100 nanometres to a few microns and can thus provide surfaces with different roughness based on the size of the particles chosen.

  • The stearic acid-coated fly ash surface can be made to behave like one of the two naturally occurring water-repelling materials rose petals or lotus leaves by the varying the surface roughness.

  • In the case of a rose petal the surface repels the water but at the same time the structure of the petal ensures that the water droplets adhere to it. Thus, even when inverted, water droplets do not fall down. On the other hand, in the case of the lotus leaf, water droplet rolls off easily.

  • However,more work is needed to test the mechanical and chemical durability of the fly ash waterproofing material.


Gokulam FC wins 129th Durand cup

  • In football, Gokulam Kerala FC won the 129th Durand Cup, defeating heavyweights MohunBagan 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata today.

  • At half time, Gokulam Kerala was leading 1-nil. Gokulam captain Marcus Joseph scored both the goals. With today's brance, Joseph's tally in the current 5 match campaign stood at 11 goals.

  • It was a close game throughout which saw both the teams go through testing moments.

  • Bagan had more possession, but Gokulam were superb in counter-attacks. With today's win, Gokulam Kerala became the first club from the state in 22 years to clinch the tournament.

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