Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 June 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 June 2020


Centre brings in rules to regulate trade of exotic species

  • The Environment Ministry’s wildlife division has introduced new rules to regulate the import and export of ‘exotic wildlife species’.
  • Currently, it is the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce,that oversees such trade.Under the new rules, owners and possessors of such animals and birds must also register their stock with the Chief Wildlife Warden of their States.
  • Officials of the Wildlife Department will also prepare an inventory of such species and have the right to inspect the facilities of such traders to check if these plants and animals are being housed in salubrious conditions.
  • According to World Wildlife Crime Report 2016 of the UN, criminals are illegally trading products derived from over 7,000 species of wild animals and plants across the world.
  • In its first global report on the illegal wildlife trade, released last week, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) described wildlife trafficking as a “global threat”, which also has links with other organised crimes such as modern slavery, drug trafficking and arms trade.
  • The illegal trade is estimated to generate revenues of up to $23 billion a year.India continues to battle wildlife crime, with reports suggesting that many times such species are available for trade on online market places.The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is an organisation that is tasked with monitoring illegal trade.

Tribal affairs ministry launches TRIFED digital platforms

  • Tribal Affairs Ministry has taken several immediate initiatives to re-energise the lagging economic activity for sustaining the livelihood development of tribals to ease the burden of the tribal artisans arising out of COVID pandemic. 
  • Addressing a video conference to launch the TRIFED Digital Platforms, Tribal Affairs Minister ArjunMunda said that the team of “TRIFED Warriors” will take Tribal Commerce based on forest produces, handlooms and handicrafts to a new high for transforming tribal lives and livelihoods. 
  • He stated that with more and more people going online to meet their various needs, an important strategic push has been to adopt an all-encompassing digitisation drive to map and link its village based tribal producers to the national and international markets. This was the key focus area of a webinar organised by TRIFED today. 
  • It was attended by over 200 participants. The main highlight was the launch of the TRIBES India products on the Government e-Marketplace  and TRIFED’s new website.
  • Mr Munda opined that TRIFED plays a major role in connecting the tribals to the mainstream and congratulated the team for their initiatives being launched today. 
  • He urged them to focus on extracting and utilising the wealth of information and knowledge that the tribal communities have, especially with regard to the jungle, and how that can be used to not just benefit their community but can also be of greater help to the country and people in these troubled times.


India among Switzerland's top-3 partners for tax info exchange

  • India figures among the top-three countries getting detailed information from Switzerland about bank accounts and beneficiary ownership of entities established by their residents in the Alpine nation, according to the latest study by OECD's Global Forum on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. 
  • In its latest peer review report on exchange of information on request, the Global Forum, which is tasked to assess the standard of exchange of information on request by various jurisdictions worldwide and their compliance, said Switzerland is rated 'largely compliant'.
  • India is also rated as 'largely compliant' by this OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) body. The Global Forum review said Switzerland has made "significant improvements in the areas of availability of legal ownership information, exchange of information on deceased persons and requests based on stolen data".
  • It, however, said some challenges remain with regard to availability of beneficial ownership information and proper implementation of rights and safeguards to ensure effective exchange of information and confidentiality requirements.
  • Under the exchange of information on request, important details have been shared in hundreds of cases so far, helping India launch prosecution against a large number of alleged tax evaders.
  • Taskforce moots immediate relief on loans to revive MSME’s
  • Nearly 6 crore micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need an array of immediate reliefs ranging from short-term liquidity to simple compliance for India’s economy to come out stronger, said a taskforce formed by Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME).
  • According to recommendations published by GAME on Saturday, the MSME sector, which contributes nearly 25% of the services GDP and 33% of the manufacturing output, needs to be communicated well about the schemes and the stakeholders should mandate 30% of the stimulus package to be released to enterprises falling into the micro and small categories and relax norms so that borrowers can repay loans in a longer timeframe and allow exemption from bank guarantees.
  • GAME said these businesses were struggling even before Covid-19 and would need financial and compliance related reforms by the government to tide over the ongoing crisis.
  • Among other suggestions, the taskforce has recommended if there could be 1 lakh crore worth of new loans to the first time MSME borrowers. “This could include Rs 1 crore loans, each with a ticket size of Rs 1 lakh with a credit backstop by the government,” said GAME.
  • Some of the key execution plans suggested for this dedicated loan corpus include administering the fund by SIDBI, a development financial institution; following a simple and rule-based claim process; providing loans at lower interest rates among other things.

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UN warns of intensified fighting in Rakhine province 

  • The United Nations has called for ‘urgent measures to spare civilians’ in the Rakhine province of Northwest Myanmar in the midst of a military crackdown on Arakan Army announced by the government.
  • The UN expressed concern over reports of intensified fighting in the Rakhinestates’sRathedaungtownship. The UN called upon both the parties, the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army to respect international humanitarian law. It reiterated the need for ceasefire amid the COVID 19 pandemic in the world.
  • The British, US and Canadian embassies in Myanmar also issued a joint statement on Saturday expressing concern over the reports of ‘clearance operations’ by Myanmar military in the Kyauktan village tract.
  • The UN call comes in the backdrop of the local authorities issuing a call last week to evacuate more than 40 villages for ‘clearance opertions’ by the Myanmar military.
  • The Arakan and Chin provinces have been witnessing intensified conflict between the Myanmar military and the separatist Arakan Army (AA) since January last year. Both Arakan and Chin provinces have been placed under internet blockade by the government.

Russia to speed up urgent defence requirements sought by India

  • Russia has agreed to quickly address some urgent defence requirements sought by India and this was discussed during the recent trip of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, defence and diplomatic sources said. 
  • The long-pending deals for AK-203 assault rifles and Ka-226T light utility helicopters were also discussed in a review of the entire gamut of defence cooperation.
  • There is some progress on the AK-203 assault rifle deal which has been held up over pricing, another diplomatic source said.
  • The request comes against the backdrop of tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control and the large-scale mobilisation undertaken by the armed forces in response to the massive Chinese build-up.
  • The deal was for over 7.5 lakh rifles, of which one lakh would be imported and 6.71 lakh rifles manufactured by a joint venture (JV) Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd. (IRRPL) at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh.
  • However, the deal for 200 Ka-226T utility helicopters remains stuck over the level of indigenisation. To reach the indigenisation percentage as specified by the tender, Russia and India are evaluating the possibility of using Indian aviation materials in the production in India, which will give the programme a new indigenisation angle and also an impetus to the domestic aero industry.
  • Several MoUs have already been signed with domestic companies by RH for localising assemblies such as fuselage, blades, radio station and landing gear.


Dragonflies display rare biological phenomenon

  • Researchers have recorded rare biological phenomenon name ‘Gynandromorphism‘ amongst dragonflies in Kerala.
  • Gynandromorphs are chimeric individuals having both male and female tissues and it is viewed by the scientific community as a genetic aberration. Even though common in some arthropod taxa such as Crustacea and Arachnida, the paper says it is very rare in odonates and only 30 individuals from seven families have been reported with the condition worldwide.
  • The spotted individual showed bilateral gynandromorphism of only the thorax, half of which showed blood red colouration as in males and the other half pale yellow characteristic of females.
  • The base of the wing of the red half was marked with rich amber, in contrast with the other wing base which was paler. The head, legs and abdomen showed typical female morphology.
  • It had mixtures of male and female external characters ranging from almost entirely female to about equally divided. They were symmetrical in development with normally dimorphic structures mostly having characters intermediate between the typical male and female conditions.
  • The Society for Odonate Studies has been conducting surveys at Kole wetlands since 2018 and 37 species of dragonflies and damselflies have been reported from the wetlands so far.


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