Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 28 JANUARY 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 28 JANUARY 2019


Indus commissioners of India and Pakistan to inspect Chenab basin

  •  A Pakistani delegation arrived in India on Sunday to visit the Chenab river basin in Jammu and Kashmir for inspection, as mandated under the Indus Water Treaty, sources said.
  •  “This tour is an obligation imposed on both the countries by the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960. Under the treaty, both the Commissioners are mandated to inspect sites and works on both the sides of the Indus basin in a block of five years,” a senior official said.
  •  Since the signing of the treaty, a total of 118 such tours on both the sides have been undertaken.The last tours of the commission in Pakistan and India were held in July 2013 and September 2014, respectively.
  •  The tour will be followed by a visit of India’s Indus Commissioner to Pakistan at a mutually convenient date, the official added. This tour was originally scheduled in October 2018 but was postponed because of local bodies and panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
  •  Under the Indus Water Treaty, waters flowing in three Indus tributaries — the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi have been allotted to India, while the Chenab, the Jhelum and the Indus waters have been allotted to Pakistan.

ASER reports gives status of RTE in India

  •  An average of 34.96% schools in the eight northeastern States had usable toilets for girls in 2018 compared to 36.66% in 2016, data analysed from the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018 report revealed.
  •  With 75.7% schools – a marginal increase from 75% in 2016 – having usable toilets for girls, Sikkim performed better than the national average of 66.4% last year. But the State’s show was overshadowed by the less-than-satisfactory performance by seven other States in the region.
  •  Nagaland was the next best State with 47%, an increase from 40.9% in 2016, followed by Mizoram with the highest percentile increase from 25.3% to 34.9% in these two years.
  •  According to the report, 2018 completed eight years of compulsory schooling for the first cohort of students to benefit from Right to Education Act 2010.
  •  “Nationally, substantial improvements are visible over this eight-year period in the availability of many school facilities mandated by RTE.
  •  The fraction of schools with usable girls' toilets doubled, reaching 66.4% in 2018. The percentage of schools with books, other than textbooks, available rose from 62.6% to 74.2% between 2016-18.


Tax authorities to scrutinise high usage of input tax credit

  •  Concerned over a decline in GST revenues, tax officials are likely to examine the high usage of input tax credit (ITC) to set off tax liability by businesses, sources said.
  •  The issue of high ITC was flagged at the meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) which was set up by the GST Council to look into the reasons for revenue shortfall being faced by a large number of States.
  •  According to sources, availing ITC ideally should not result in loss of revenue but there could be possibility of misuse of the provision by unscrupulous businesses by generating fake invoices just to claim tax credit.
  •  During the meeting of the GoM, it was pointed out that as much as 80% of the total GST liability is being settled by ITC and only 20% deposited as cash.
  •  GST revenue has averaged around Rs. 96,000 crore per month so far this fiscal and this reflects the cash component being deposited by businesses.
  •  Under the present dispensation, there is no provision for real-time matching of ITC claims with the taxes already paid by suppliers of inputs.

Centre to announce relief package for farmers soon

  •  The Union Cabinet is expected to soon approve a relief package for farmers grappling with falling prices and to tackle distress in the farm sector, according to sources.
  •  The relief package is seen as an attempt to assuage the farming community’s discontent ahead of the general elections.Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Monday, has been deferred, as per sources.
  •  The Agriculture Ministry has recommended several options to provide both short and long-term solutions to address agrarian distress. However, a final call will be taken at the Cabinet meeting as a huge cost is involved, they said.
  •  One option proposed is waiving interest on crop loans for farmers who pay on time, which will cost an additional Rs. 15,000 crore to the exchequer
  •  There is also a proposal to completely waive premium for insurance on food crops. The Centre is also evaluating the scheme followed by the Telangana and Odisha governments wherein a fixed amount is transferred directly into the bank account of farmers, the sources further said.

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India to explore deeper cooperation with UAE

  •  Relations between India and UAE are going through a ‘golden era’ as both countries continue to explore deeper cooperation in the new areas.
  •  Addressing the august gathering on the occasion of the 70th Republic Day reception hosted by the Indian Consulate in Dubai, Ambassador NavdeepSuri said that the bilateral relationship between the two countries have matured and transformed into a comprehensive strategic partnership over the last few years and are at their best ever.
  •  The deepening of the energy ties, the Ambassador said, was a highlight of last year, as the relationship transformed from a buyer-seller relationship to that of a strategic partnership in energy security.
  •  He Continued, with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is delivering the crude oil for storage in Mangalore Strategic reserve and a consortium of Indian oil companies is acquiring 10 per cent stake in Lower Zakum Offshore oil field in Abu Dhabi.
  •  The Republic Day Reception was attended by a large number of diplomatic corps, prominent expat Indians including the three PravasiBhartiyaSamman awardee Dr ZulekhaDaud, Surender Singh Kandhari and Social Worker Girish Pant.
  •  UAE Minister for Environment and Climate Change Thani Al-Zeyoudi was the chief guest at the event. The cultural mosaic of India was beautifully showcased for the guests at the Reception.

Iraq and UAE discuss counter terrorism cooperation

  •  UAE and Iraq have discussed methods of countering extremism and terrorism, in addition to a number of issues of mutual concern during a meeting in Baghdad.
  •  Emirates News Agency today said first meeting of the UAE-Iraq Political Consultative Committee was held at the level of senior officials of the foreign finistries of both countries.
  •  During the meeting the two sides discussed bilateral relations and means of strengthening and developing them.
  •  KhalifaShaheen Al-Marar, Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, who chaired the UAE side, stressed the importance of this round of consultations to enhance aspects of joint cooperation between the two countries.
  •  Al-Marar and NizarIssa Al-Khairallah, Under-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq, exchanged views and political stance towards the latest regional and global developments.
  •  The two sides agreed to hold a second meeting of political consultations at a date to be agreed upon later.


Scientists find out microplastic contamination in groundwater

  •  Scientists have found microplastics contaminating a groundwater source that accounts for 25% of the global drinking water supply
  •  Microplastics are already known to contaminate the world’s surface waters, yet scientists have only just begun to explore their presence in groundwater systems.
  •  Fractured limestone aquifers are a groundwater source that accounts for 25% of the global drinking water supply.
  •  The study, published in the journal Groundwater , identified microplastic fibres, along with a variety of medicines and household contaminants, in two aquifer systems in the U.S.
  •  “Plastic in the environment breaks down into microscopic particles that can end up in the guts and gills of marine life, exposing the animals to chemicals in the plastic,” said John Scott, a researcher at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.
  •  “As the plastics break down, they act like sponges that soak up contaminants and microbes and can ultimately work their way into our food supply,” said Mr. Scott.
  •  Groundwater flows through the cracks and voids in limestone, sometimes carrying sewage and runoff from roads, landfills and agricultural areas into the aquifers below, he said.


Malaysia not to host world para swimming championships due to stance towards Israeli

  •  Malaysia has been stripped of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships for threatening to refuse to allow Israeli athletes to take part, the International Paralympic Committee said.
  •  The decision was taken “after the Home Ministry of Malaysia failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the Championships,” the IPC said.
  •  IPC president Andrew Parsons said: “When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host.
  •  The championships, a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, were due to take place in Kuching on July 29-August 4. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called it “a victory of values over hatred and bigotry”.
  •  Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said if hosting an international sports event was more important than the country’s support for the Palestinian cause, “(it) means Malaysia has truly loss its moral compass”.

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