Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 28 August 2019
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
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
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.
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
“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
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
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.
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
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-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
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
Speedster JaspritBumrah also made his maiden entry into the
top-10. The fastest Indian pacer to 50 wickets, is now seventh in the bowlers'
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