Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 27 June 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 27 June 2019


::NATIONAL::

Centre to roll out water harvesting in stressed areas

  • The Centre is set to initiate the Jal Shakti Abhiyan to ramp up rainwater harvesting and conservation efforts in 255 water-stressed districts from July 1, in line with the government’s promise to focus on water.

  • Though water is a State issue, the campaign will be coordinated by 255 central IAS officers of Joint or Additional Secretary-rank, drawn from ministries as varied as Space, Petroleum and Defence, according to a notification issued by the Department of Personnel and Training on Wednesday.

  • The campaign seems to follow the model of last year’s Gram SwarajAbhiyan, where central officials monitored the implementation of seven flagship development schemes in 117 aspirational districts across the country.

  • The campaign will run from July 1 to September 15 in States receiving rainfall during the south-west monsoon, while States receiving rainfall in the retreating or north-east monsoon will be covered from October 1 to November 30. Overall, 313 blocks with critical groundwater levels will be covered, along with 1,186 blocks with over-exploited groundwater and 94 blocks with low groundwater availability.

  • Progress would be monitored in real time through mobile applications and an online dashboard at indiawater.gov.in

  • A major communications campaign on TV, radio, print, local and social media will be carried out, with celebrities mobilised to generate awareness for the campaign.

Home ministry set to review security situation in Jammu

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah will review the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar today.

  • Mr Shah will also meet delegations of people. He will also meet BJP workers, Panchayat members and families of party workers who have been killed by terrorists in the state. Union Home Minister will also meet the family members of policemen killed in terror attacks in the state.

  • Mr Shah arrived in Srinagar yesterday on a two-day visit to the state. This is his first visit to Jammu & Kashmir after assuming charge of Union home ministry.

  • On the first day yesterday, Home Minister took stock of the security and other arrangements related to upcoming AmarnathYatra. Mr Shah also reviewed various development schemes and projects in the State. Governor, Union Home Secretary, state Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, DGP Dilbagh Singh and divisional commissioners from the Valley and Jammu and other officials attended the review meeting.

  • AIR correspondent reports that Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to review the overall security situation including counter militant and counter infiltration operations at a high level Unified Headquarters Meeting at Sher I Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) in Srinagar.

  • Governor Satya Pal Malik, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and top officials of all the security and intelligence agencies are attending the meeting. Home Minister is also meeting several delegations of people. He is also meeting families of political workers and policemen who lost their lives in the militant attacks in the state.

::ECONOMY::

RBI begins monitoring of housing finance companies

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has started monitoring the liquidity position, asset-liability gap and repayment schedules of housing finance companies (HFCs) on a daily basis after the liquidity crisis hit these firms, resulting in defaults.

  • Mortgage lenders are regulated by the National Housing Bank. But the central bank is of the view that the since the liquidity crisis of the HFCs could have a spillover effect on the other segments in the financial sector, including banks, and hence, could affect financial stability, it was necessary to monitor these entities on a regular basis.

  • NBFCs saw their cost of funds going up sharply in the last few months. This has impacted their business growth as the lenders have to cut down on their loan disbursements.

  • The move to monitor HFCs on a daily basis comes after some mortgage lenders started feeling the pressure to meet their financial obligations. Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, for example, partially defaulted on repayment to its commercial paper holders. Earlier, the company had to delay repayment to its non-convertible debenture holders.

  • RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das had emphasised on the importance of maintaining financial stability in the wake of the HFC crisis.

SEZ amendment bill passed in LokSabha

  • The LokSabha on Wednesday passed the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019, making a trust or any entity notified by the Central government eligible for consideration of grant of permission to set up a unit in special economic zones.

  • Union Commerce and Industry Minister PiyushGoyal said the Bill, which would replace an ordinance, was aimed at improving and encouraging more investments and introducing features including single-window clearance and to ease imports and exports.

  • “To attract both domestic and international investors, the Prime Minister wants to keep up with the evolving business environment,” Mr.Goyal said, introducing the legislation. “To this effect, we want to add alternative investment funds trust in the definition of persons,” he added.

  • Opposition parties, however, questioned the manner in which the Bill had been brought in, with Congress MP ShashiTharoor stating, “As per rule, an ordinance can be promulgated only when the President deems it necessary in emergency situations and when issues of extreme urgency arise and when it’s not possible to wait for Parliament to convene.”

  • Questioning the government for the urgency in passing an ordinance, DMK leader D.N.V. Senthilkumar said: “Large chunk of trusts owned by minorities have been shut down under the previous Act. There are suspicions that the government has a hidden agenda to favour a selected few who are close to the government and have vested interests.”

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India to prioritise permanent membership in expanded UNSC

  • The government has accorded the highest priority to getting a permanent membership for the country in an expanded United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

  • In a written reply in LokSabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said, India is actively engaged in the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations on UNSC reform. He said, a series of initiatives, involving bilateral and multilateral platforms, have been undertaken by the government in pursuance of this objective.

  • The Minister said, India is working alongside other reform-oriented countries through its membership in the G-4 Group that includes India, Japan, Brazil and Germany and the L-69 Group, which is a cross-regional grouping of developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America to build support among the UN member states for expansion of the UN Security Council.

  • Mr Muraleedharan said, as a result of India's sustained efforts, a large number of countries have supported its candidature for a permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council. He said, this has been expressed in various forms and fora including in bilateral inter-governmental meetings.

Bangladesh accuses Myanmar of delaying rohingyan repatriation

  • Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has accused Myanmar of deliberately delaying the process of Rohingya repatriation.

  • Replying to a query in the Parliament Ms.Hasina said Bangladesh has signed three pacts with Myanmar for repatriation of the Rohingyas within two years.

  • She said Myanmar is conducting propaganda at international level that the process of repatriation is being delayed due to non-cooperation of Bangladesh. Ms.Hasina said it is the duty of Myanmar government to bring Rohingyas back to their home.

  • The Prime Minister informed parliament that Bangladesh has been continuing its diplomatic efforts with Myanmar as well as with international and regional forums to send back the forcibly displaced Rohingyas to their homeland.

  • Ms.Hasina is embarking on a 5 day visit to China from July 1 where the issue of Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar will figure in the discussion between the two countries.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Scientists develop water repelling cotton to release drugs

  • Sustained release of drugs for as long as 110 days has now been achieved by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati by immobilising the drugs on cotton that is extremely water repelling (superhydrophobic).

  • A team led by Uttam Manna from the Department of Chemistry found that 30% of the drug was released within 48 hours and the remaining drug over a period of 110 days. Two drugs — aspirin and tetracycline — were tested for sustained drug release.

  • The researchers found that the duration of drug release can be tuned by varying the degree of water repelling property of cotton. For instance, when water repellence was reduced from 155 degree to 125 degrees, the duration of drug release reduced sharply from 110 days to over 50 days.

  • When cotton is supremely water repelling, there is sustained release for about 110 days after the burst-release in the first 48 hours. When the cotton is moderately water-repelling, 64% of drug is released in 48 hours and the remaining over the next 50 days.

  • Both the drugs were released in a similar fashion and the bioactivity of the tetracycline released at one, three and seven days was examined. “The bioactivity was similar to the native drug at all three time periods. Tetracycline was able to prevent the proliferation of both E. coli and Streptococcus aureus,” says Dr. Manna.

::SPORTS::

International Olympic Committee strips AIBA of Olympic status

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today stripped Olympic status from the troubled world boxing body AIBA.

  • As a result, the IOC will now organize qualifying and final tournaments for the 2020 Tokyo Games. IOC members had voted to endorse the executive board's recommendation last month to suspend AIBA's Olympic status.

  • Olympic inquiry panel chairman NenadLalovic said in Lausanne, Switzerland that AIBA had created very serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC and its American stakeholders.

  • Lausanne-based AIBA has said it is near bankruptcy with debts of about 17 million US Dollars. It is cut off from future income from Tokyo revenues, and the 2019 world championships for men and women in Russia are no longer Olympic qualifiers.

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