Current Affairs a for IAS Exams - 28 APRIL 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 28 APRIL 2019


::NATIONAL::

VP urges youth to respect pluralistic culture and uphold tolerance

  • The Vice President of India, Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu said today that the youth of our nation must shoulder the greater social responsibility of exercising judgement in looking at social issues. He urged them to adhere to the traditions of tolerance and respect and protect our pluralistic culture.
  • Shri. Naidu affirmed that India of the future would be powered by the dreams and ambitions, the character and competence of young people. He stated that we will be able to fully realize the vast demographic dividend in the years to come only if we can empower our youth with the right skills and attitudes.
  • The Vice President proposed that we must rethink and re-orient our educational system in the context of the twenty first century when the concerns of ecology, of human welfare and the welfare of the planet are equally imperative. ‘It is possible only if we turn our system around, including aspects of curriculum and evaluation, towards critical thinking’, he said.
  • Observing that access to higher education has been improved considerably in our country, Shri. Naidu said that we have to focus upon raising the quality of education and ensuring that we offer the best possible education to our young people.
  • Shri Naidu also urged the youth of the nation to use the means of communication that technology has provided, responsibly. He emphasized that these modern means of communication must be used to facilitate social harmony and to cultivate a culture of healthy and civilized discussion on many of the pressing problems such as class and gender inequalities and the needs of the less privileged in society.

Gujarat to back farmers on Pepsico issue

  • With protests coming from all ends of the political spectrum, the Gujarat government has decided to back four potato farmers in their fight against PepsiCo’s Rs. 4.2 crorelawsuit against them for allegedly infringing its rights by growing the potato used in Lays chips.
  • A senior official told The Hindu that the State government will join the ongoing legal case on the side of the farmers, just hours after senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel slammed PepsiCo and said the State “shouldn’t keep its eyes shut”.
  • Gujarat produces 33 lakh tonnes from its 1.21 lakh hectares planted with the potato crop, with Banaskantha recently pipping Uttar Pradesh’s Agra to become the country’s largest potato producing district.
  • PepsiCo has already offered to settle the case out of court in the wake of boycott calls, which have spread to global social media. However, the company is still insisting that the farmers stop using its registered variety of potato and surrender their existing stocks, or join its corporate farming programme which involves an exclusive buyback clause.
  • While the company has invoked the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 to claim infringement of its rights, farmers groups point out that the Act specifically allows the Indian farmer “to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act” so long as he does not sell “branded seed”.

::ECONOMY::

IRDAI sets up panel to review micro insurance sector

  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has set up a committee to review the regulatory framework on microinsurance and recommend measures to increase the demand for such products.
  • Comprising officials of the IRDAI, insurers and NGOs, the committee has been formed in the backdrop of a less- than-desired offtake of microinsurance products despite their inherent benefits.
  • The committee has representatives from life, general and health insurance companies in the public and private sectors. A circular from IRDAI said India was seen to be a very exciting market and a pioneer in the microinsurance sector in the world.
  • Specifically intended for the protection of low-income people, with affordable insurance products, microinsurance promises to support sustainable livelihoods of the poor. However, its market penetration remains low.
  • While reviewing the regulatory framework on microinsurance in the country and abroad, the committee will suggest changes in the distribution structure, if any, including mobile-based and technology driven solutions. Setting a three month timeframe for submission of the recommendations, the circular said the committee would also suggest creating effective awareness programmes.

Indian Pharma sector witnesses high exports

  • India’s pharmaceutical exports grew a robust 10.72% in 2018-19, and raced past the $19-billion mark for the first time, a performance marked by a rebound in the U.S. market, improved show in almost all the top 25 destinations and across categories.
  • Exports touched $19.13 billion as against $17.28 billion of 2017-18, the previous highest, details available with Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India show. While it fell short of the $20-billion mark that was widely expected to be crossed, the performance was still special.
  • Making matters challenging for exporters over the last few years has been the increased regulatory scrutiny, pressure on margins in the face of mounting competition and the need to geographically diversify the market. In the five years to 2018-19, exports had declined in one year (2016-17). Other factors such as price control in Germany, Brexit and the lockdown in the U.S. also influenced trends.
  • Herbal products was the only segment with negative growth, while exports of vaccines, surgicals and Ayush increased.
  • Region-wise it was North America, primarily the U.S. market, that figured at the top, accounting for $6.14 billion or nearly one-third of the total exports. Compared to 2017-18, the change was 14.92%. The U.S., specifically with $5.82 billion, contributed to 30.42% of the exports.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Pakistan suspends its pulse polio drive following attacks over workers

  • The Pakistan government has suspended the anti-polio drive and post-campaign evaluation following the increasing number of attacks on polio workers in different parts of the country.
  • The countrywide campaign to administer anti-polio drops to 39 million children under five years of age was launched on Monday and Friday was the last day following which the evaluation of the drive was to take place.
  • However, the campaign, involving 260,000 polio workers, ran into trouble after reports that several children were taken to hospital as they fell sick after being administered the anti-polio vaccine in some areas of Peshawar.
  • Following the reports, unidentified gunmen shot dead security personnel escorting a team of polio workers in northwest Pakistan.
  • Baber bin Atta, focal person to Prime Minister Imran Khan on polio eradication, clarified that the vaccine was safe and anti-polio elements were spreading rumours on social media to scare parents.
  • The National Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for polio issued a letter asking all the provinces to stop the campaign and prevent further damage.

Sudani protesters and army agrees on joint council

  • In Sudan, protest leaders and army rulers have agreed to establish a joint civilian-military ruling council, a major breakthrough in talks between the two sides over demonstrators' demands for a handover to civilian rule.
  • Organizers of the protests have said that talks yesterday on forming a transitional government were transparent and fruitful.
  • One of the protest leaders, Ahmed al-Rabia, who was involved in the talks said to the reporters that the protesters agreed on a joint council between the civilian and the military.
  • Yesterday's meeting came after the protesters agreed Wednesday to resume talks with the military after a temporary break.
  • The military also announced then the resignation of three members of the military council, whom the opposition had accused of being too close to the ousted oustedlongtime leader Omar al-Bashir.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Scientists develop high sensitive quantum thermometer

  • Researchers at JamiaMilliaIslamia, New Delhi, have developed an ultrasensitive quantum thermometer using graphene quantum dots. The thermometer can precisely measure a wide range of temperature: 27 degree C to –196 degree C.
  • The thermometer has high sensitivity when measuring different temperatures and can measure very minute (micro Kelvin) changes in temperature.
  • The device can find widespread applications in cryogenic temperature sensing. Since the sensor has high sensitivity and ability to measure minute changes in temperature, it will be useful in the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare to measure the incubation temperature of biological cells and molecules and the automobile industry to measure the ignition temperature within the engine.
  • “The synthesis process is extremely cost effective, has high yield and batch fabrication is possible. One of the main advantages is that this device can be made to any shape and dimension,” Prof. Islam says.
  • “We are working on making a prototype of this thermometer to be used in electronic devices, as on-chip thermometers that do not even require calibrations. We will now replicate these achievements in single electron transistors (SETs) to miniaturise it for integration in integrated circuits,” he adds.

::SPORTS::

  • AbhishekVerma wins gold at ISSF worldcup
  • India's AbhishekVerma bagged a Gold medal in the 10-metre Air Pistol event at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup at Beijing in China on Saturday.
  •  He clinched the top honours with a total score of 242.7 points in the eight-man final. Russia's ArtemChernousov took home the Silver, with South Korea's Seungwoo Han finishing with a Bronze.
  • With the Gold, Abhishek has secured India's fifth 2020 Tokyo Olympic quota.

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