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
- 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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- “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.”
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
- 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.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
India’s proposal to upgrade protection status of certain species approved by
- 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
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