Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 August 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 August 2019


Centre plans to study microbial diversity across Ganga

  •  The government has commissioned a ₹9.3 crore study to assess the microbial diversity along the entire length of the Ganga and test if stretches of the 2,500 km long river contain microbes that may promote “antibiotic resistance”.
  •  The aims of the research project, according to a note by the National Mission for Clean Ganga under the Jal Shakti Ministry is to indicate the type of “contamination” (sewage and industrial) in the river and “threat to human health (antibiotic resistance surge)”, identifying sources of Eschericia coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the gut of animals and humans. While largely harmless, some species have been linked to intestinal disease as well as aggravating antibiotic resistance.
  •  There have been several studies that have looked at microbial diversity in the Ganga but these have been isolation. No study has looked at the “entire stretch” of the river, according to Atya Kapley, a scientist at NEERI and part of the project.
  •  In 2014, researchers from Newcastle University in the U.K. and IIT-Delhi sampled water and sediments at seven sites along the Ganga in different seasons. They reported in the peer-reviewed Environmental Science and Technology that levels of resistance genes that lead to “superbugs” were about 60 times greater during the pilgrimage months of May and June than at other times of the year.
  •  A 2017 report commissioned by the Union Department of Biotechnology and the U.K. Research Council underlined that India had some of the highest antibiotic resistance rates among bacteria that commonly cause infections.

LokSabha speaker moots common code of conduct for legislative bodies

  •  “A common code of conduct will be framed for legislative bodies to check interruptions and for this a committee of presiding officers will be formed, which, after due consultations with Speakers of Legislative Assemblies and the Chairmen of Legislative Councils, will present its report later this year,” said Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla here on Wednesday.
  •  He released this statement after presiding over the meetings of the executive committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) India Region and Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India held in Parliament House Annexe earlier in the day.
  •  The Speaker added that the presiding officers were of the unanimous view that Parliament and State Legislatures, the representative institutions, are accountable to the people and matters concerning different regions need to be constructively discussed and debated in the House.
  •  “There was a consensus among the presiding officers to increase the number of sittings of the State Legislatures and also to increase the productivity of legislative work. It was also felt that there is a need to have extensive and healthy debates in the Legislatures for passing the laws and the House needs to function without any interruptions,” the Speaker said.


RBI surplus increased due to OMO’s and forex operations

  •  Large scale open market operations (OMO) conducted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and higher earnings from foreign exchange operations helped boost the central bank’s surplus to record levels in 2018-19.
  •  The RBI posted a surplus of ₹1.23 lakh crore in 2018-19 compared to ₹50,004 crore in 2017-18 and ₹30,663 crore in 2016-17. On Monday, the central bank said that its board had approved the transfer of ₹1.76 lakh crore to the government, which includes the surplus of ₹1.23 lakh crore and excess provisions of ₹52,637 crore identified as per the revised Economic Capital Framework.
  •  The RBI infused massive liquidity by buying back government securities. Holding cash does not yield any return but when invested in securities, interest income is earned. Market estimates suggest that the additional income during the accounting year was to the tune of ₹26,000 crore on larger OMOs.
  •  In addition, there was a gain of ₹21,000 crore due to change in methodology to calculate foreign exchange gains, which was reflected in net income.
  •  Observing the large transfer is likely to be one-time event, India Ratings said, “As the net liquidity injection under the liquidity adjustment facility continued in FY19 and the credit offtake remains weak, the banking system continues to see surplus liquidity. Therefore, while the RBI is likely to have sustained its earning from seiniorage income in FY19, the growth will come down incrementally.”
  •  India Ratings said with the contingency fund reserve at about 5.5% of the total assets of the RBI, the central bank could be expected to appropriate its net income towards the fund in order to maintain the fund’s corpus at least at the current levels.

India Rating and research revises GDP projection for FY2019-20

  •  India Ratings and Research has revised downwards its projection of the country’s GDP growth in financial year 2019-20 to 6.7%, a six-year low, from its earlier forecast of 7.3%, the agency announced on Wednesday
  •  “The agency expects FY20 to be the third consecutive year of subdued growth pushed by (i) a slowdown in consumption demand; (ii) delayed and uneven progress of monsoon so far; (iii) decline in manufacturing growth; (iv) inability of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to resolve cases in a time-bound manner, and (v) rising global trade tension adversely impacting exports,” it said in a report.
  •  The agency expects growth in the first quarter of the current financial year to decline for the fifth consecutive quarter to 5.7%.
  •  Further, it said that the reform measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently would make an impact only in the medium term.
  •  “On August 23, 2019, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to revive the economy, which included addressing some of the woes facing auto sector, MSME, banking sector, capital market, etc.,” the report said.
  •  “However, these measures are likely to support growth only in the medium term, but the agency expects GDP growth to recover to 7.4% in the second half of FY20, mainly on account of the base effect.”

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U.S set to improve defence relations with India

  •  US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said last night he discussed future steps need to be taken for India and US to work together more closely, during his conversation with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
  •  Mr Esper, who took office last month, had his first conversation with Mr Singh over telephone on the 20th of this month. However, he did not divulge any further details of the call.
  •  Earlier, a Defence Ministry spokesperson in New Delhi had said that Mr Esper appreciated the central government's position that the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir are an internal matter of India.
  •  US Defence Secretary also hoped that any issue between India and Pakistan will be resolved bilaterally, the spokesperson said. Mr Rajnath Singh had raised with Mr Esper the issue of cross-border terrorism and appreciated the US support for India's effort to maintain peace and stability in the region.

Protests erupt in London against PM’s decision to suspend parliament

  •  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament has prompted an angry backlash from MPs and campaigners.
  •  Hundreds of people protested in London yesterday and a petition against the move gained a million signatures.
  •  Earlier, Queen Elizabeth approved Mr Johnson's request to suspend Parliament for five weeks in September and October - weeks before the Brexit deadline. Opponents say it will leave MPs with little time to stop a no-deal Brexit.
  •  But cabinet minister Michael Gove insisted the suspension was certainly not a political move to stop MPs blocking a no deal. Instead, he told the BBC there would be plenty of time to debate Brexit before the scheduled departure date of 31 October.
  •  Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described it as a smash and grab on British democracy in order to force through a no deal by not leaving enough time to pass laws in Parliament - and pledged to try to stop the suspension.


India’s proposal to upgrade protection status of certain species approved by CITES

  •  India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of star tortoises (Geochelone elegans), the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and small-clawed otters (Anoyx cinereus) in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora) have been approved.
  •  These species have been listed under Appendix I of CITES and will now enjoy the highest degree of protection as there will be a complete international ban enforced on their trade.The upgradation was approved at the Conference of the Parties (COP18) held at Geneva.
  •  Appendix I of CITES lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants. “They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research,” the CITES website states.
  •  Agni Mitra, deputy director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Eastern Region, said that 90% of trade of star tortoises occurs as part of the international pet market.
  •  The species is categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union of Conservation of Nature and a decline greater than 30% was predicted by 2025 if the exploitation continued or expanded.


Indian teams performs well at Worldskills Kazan competition

  •  The Indian team created history by winning one gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the 45th WorldSkills Kazan 2019 competition, in Russia yesterday. It has been the country's best performance since it first participated at the event in 2007.
  •  S Aswatha Narayana won the gold medal in water technology. Pranav Nutalapati won silver medal in web technologies. Sanjoy Pramanik and Shweta Ratanpura won one bronze medal each in Jewellery and graphic design technology.

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