Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 28 August 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 28 August 2019


 ::NATIONAL::

India pledges to restore lakhs of degraded land by 2030

  • A week ahead of a United Nations conference here that will see experts from over 90 countries deliberate ways to combat desertification, Union Environment Minister PrakashJavadekar said India had committed to rejuvenate 50 lakh hectares (5 million) of degraded land between 2021 and 2030.

  • India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation. About 29% or about 96.4 million hectares are considered degraded.

  • This January, India became part of the “Bonn Challenge”, a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.

  • At the UNFCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India also joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge and pledged to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.

  • Schemes such as the PradhanMantriFasalBimaYojana, Soil Health Card Scheme, Soil Health Management Scheme and PradhanMantriKrishiSinchayeeYojana are seen as prongs to tackle this land degradation, said a press statement from the Environment Ministry.

  • India for the first time will be hosting the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from September 2 to 13.

Southern states top child well being index

  • Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry topped the charts in the child well-being index, a tool designed to measure and track children’s well-being comprehensively.

  • Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh featured at the bottom of the list, according to a report released by the non-government organisation World Vision India and research institute IFMR LEAD on Tuesday.

  • The report is an attempt to look at how India fairs on child well-being using a composite child well-being index.

  • Speaking on the report CEO-NitiAyog Amitabh Kant noted: “The India child well-being index is a crucial report that can be mined both by the government and civil organisations to achieve the goal of child well-being and we will use this report effectively. This report provides insights on health, nutrition, education, sanitation and child protection.”

  • The report, calls for States to look at their respective scores on the dimensions of child well-being, and to prepare for priority areas of intervention with specific plans of action.

  • It also hopes to trigger policy level changes, seek better budgetary allocations and initiate discussions with all stakeholders, which can help in enhancing the quality of life of all children in the country.

 ::ECONOMY::

Centre brings in new guidelines for e-commerce firms

  • Guidelines for e-commerce firms aimed at protecting the consumer interests issued earlier this month would become mandatory under the new Consumer Protection Act, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday.

  • The guidelines entail a 14-day deadline to effect refund request, mandate e-tailers to display details of sellers supplying goods and services on their websites and moot the procedure to resolve consumer complaints.

  • “As the draft guidelines will be made part of the law, they become mandatory,” Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters. He was speaking at a press conference following two-hour consultation with parliamentarians who had moved amendments to the Act during the debate in Parliament.

  • The companies must protect the personally identifiable information of customers, should not directly or indirectly influence the price of the goods or services and “maintain a level-playing field”.

  • Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava said the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) which would be established to protect consumer rights would have the power to take action against violating firms.

  • Mr.Paswan told the parliamentarians that he had discussed in detail every aspect of the law and addressed the concerns.

Centre considers relaxing FDI norms

  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday will consider relaxing foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in several sectors, including single-brand retail and digital media, to attract overseas players, sources said.

  • Other sectors where FDI rules would be eased are coal mining and contract manufacturing. The government may approve a proposal to allow 100% FDI in contract manufacturing, they said.

  • In the existing foreign investment policy, 100% FDI is permitted in the manufacturing sector under the automatic route.

  • A manufacturer is also allowed to sell products manufactured in India through wholesale and retail channels, including through e-commerce, without the government’s approval. But, the policy does not talk about contract manufacturing and it is not clearly defined in the policy.

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 ::INTERNATIONAL::

External affairs ministry gives impetus to Indo-Pacific region

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said, the changing world had thrown up new concepts and approaches and the Indo-Pacific was one of them.

  • Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club, a Moscow-based think tank and discussion forum, he said, the Indo-Pacific area is our lifeline and also the highway for trade and prosperity.

  • India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the region.

  • Mr.Jaishankar arrived in Moscow, yesterday on a two-day visit to Russia. He will hold talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, today.

  • The External Affairs Minister's visit comes days ahead of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok from 4 to 6th September where Prime Minister NarendraModi will be the chief guest.

India expands trade cooperation with U.K

  • The current slowdown in the economy does not deter U.K. companies from investing in India, which has ambitious targets of building infrastructure in the country. The British government is looking to develop an “attractive climate” for U.K.-based companies to invest in India, which offers multiple benefits, including a massive market.

  • The British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, commented on the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) framework in the country, saying that the U.K. “is keen to collaborate with the Indian government in its ambition to attract foreign British companies to invest here. The U.K. has a good record in Ease of Doing Business. It is important that we consider balance of interest in terms of investments in each-others’ countries.”

  • On his two-day visit to Gujarat, Mr. Asquith met the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and business leaders to explore areas of common interest for knowledge sharing, and investment prospects in important sectors like pharmaceuticals and life sciences, technology and infrastructure.

  • “The Indian economy may be growing at a lesser rate than 7%. But that isn’t bad. The companies aren’t looking at growth rates. More than that, they look at the EoDB factors. The more those concerns are addressed, the more inflow of companies we see,” he added.

  • On concerns over Brexit and its possible impact on fresh investments in the U.K., Mr. Asquith stated that some companies are delaying investment decisions, which are more related to further expansions.

 ::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

BS VI vehicles to be expensive as OMC’s set to increase fuel price

  • State-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) are set to increase the prices of petrol and diesel with effect from April 2020 to recover over Rs. 30,000 crore of investments made by these firms in upgrading their refineries to meet the BS-VI standards.

  • Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) chairman Mukesh Kumar Suranatold , “Upgrading to BS-VI was part of our expansion project in our Mumbai and Visakh refineries. Upgrading to BS-VI comes at a cost. We have invested close to Rs. 5,000 crore for upgradation to BS-VI. Besides, we need to incur additional operating expenses to run those units as we need to produce hydrogen. We will try to get a compensation.”

  • State-owned OMCs had so far invested over Rs. 30,000 crore in upgrading their refineries to produce cleaner BS-VI fuels after the government, in 2016 decided to meet global best practices and leapfrog to BS-VI, skipping BS-V norms.

  • BS-VI norms will come into effect from April 1, 2020. “Pricing, we have not decided yet. It will be done closer to the launch. We will start making available BS-VI fuels in our depots by January so that all our outlets have these fuels by March. It may be a marginal hike between 50 paise per litre and Rs. 2 per litre,” the director of another OMC said on condition of anonymity.

 ::SPORTS::

ViratKohli maintains top spot in ICC test rankings

  • Indian cricket team skipper ViratKohli maintained his lead over Australia's Steve Smith in the latest ICC Cricket Test rankings released in Dubai last evening.

  • Top-ranked Kohli has 910 points while Smith, with 904, is placed second. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is placed third and India's CheteshwarPujara is placed fourth.

  • Indian Test vice-captain AjinkyaRahane, with scores of 81 and 102 in the first Test against the West Indies, jumped 10 places to be 11th in the list.

  • Speedster JaspritBumrah also made his maiden entry into the top-10. The fastest Indian pacer to 50 wickets, is now seventh in the bowlers' list.

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