Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 November 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 November 2019


::NATIONAL::

Bill to merge two union territories passed in Loksabha

  •  Lok Sabha today passed the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019.

  •  The Bill provides for the merger of Union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. It provides for better delivery of services to citizens of both the UTs by improving efficiency and reduction in paperwork and administrative expenditure.

  •  It will also bring uniformity in policy and schemes. Both the UTs are located in the western region of the country. Dadra and Nagar Haveli has just one district while Daman and Diu has two.

  •  Replying to debate on the Bill, Union Minister G Kishen Reddy said that the combined population of the two UTs is 5 lakh 80 thousand. He said currently, administrators shuttle between the two UTs on specific days which creates problems for administrative functioning.

  •  The Minister said, the merger was decided to improve delivery services to the people.

  •  The country currently has nine UTs after the creation of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. However, with the merger of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the number of UTs will come down to eight.

DAC approves capital procurements worth rs.22000 crores

  •  Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, today approved capital procurement for the Services amounting to over 22,800 crore rupees.

  •  To boost the 'Make in India' initiative, the DAC accorded approval for indigenous design, development and manufacturing of 'Thermal Imaging Night Sights' for Assault Rifles. These sights will be manufactured by the Indian private industry and used by troops deployed on the frontline.

  •  As a follow up of the successful indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control programme, the DAC revalidated the Acceptance of Necessity for the procurement of additional Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) India aircraft.

  •  The mission system and sub-systems for these aircraft would be indigenously designed, developed and integrated into the main platform by Defence Research and Development Organisation.

  •  The Council also approved the procurement of long Medium-Range Anti-submarine Warfare P8 I aircraft for the Navy. These aircraft would greatly strengthen the Navy's capabilities for maritime coastal surveillance, Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Vessel strike.

  •  The DAC approved the procurement of Twin-Engine Heavy Helicopters for the Indian Coast Guard. These aircraft would enable the Coast Guard to undertake missions to prevent maritime terrorism, infiltration of terrorists by sea routes as well as Search & Rescue operations.

::ECONOMY::

Fifteenth finance commission gets extension by 11 months

  •  Union Cabinet on Wednesday decided to extend the term of 15th Finance Commission by 11 months to October 30, 2020. This is the second extension. After the first one, the term was to end on November 30.

  •  The Commission will submit its interim report on Saturday, November 30, 2019. This will suggest formulae for tax devolution for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

  •  Since the validity of previous formulae ends on March 31, 2020, and the Commission needs more time in the wake of the change of stature of Jammu & Kashmir, submission of an interim report was needed.

  •  The statement also mentioned that the Terms of Reference for the commission are wide-ranging in nature. Comprehensively examining their implications and aligning them to the requirements of the States and the Central government will require additional time.

  •  The proposed increase in coverage of the period for which the Commission’s recommendations are applicable, will help medium-term resource planning for the Centre and the State governments.

  •  Making a five-year coverage available for the Commission beyond April 1, 2021, will help the Centre and the State governments design schemes with medium to long-term financial perspective and provide adequate time for mid-course evaluation and correction.

Cabinet approves extension of jute packaging norms

  •  The Cabinet on Wednesday approved extension of norms for mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar in jute material for the Jute Year 2019-20.

  •  The decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, mandates that 100 per cent of the foodgrains and 20 per cent of sugar will be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags.

  •  "The decision to pack sugar in diversified jute bags will give an impetus to the diversification of the jute industry. Further, the decision also mandates that initially 10 per cent of the indents of jute bags for packing foodgrains would be placed through reverse auction on the GeM portal. This will gradually usher in a regime of price discovery.

  •  "The approval will benefit farmers and workers located in the Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country particularly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura," an official statement said.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

External affairs ministry claims India has maintained independence in foreign policy

  •  India has always maintained its independence and autonomy in the exercise of its foreign policy and ensured that the national interest determines the policy. External Affairs Minister S Jiashankar said this while making a statement in the Rajya Sabha on the government's efforts to promote the country's foreign policy focusing on the high level visits of President, Vice President and Prime Minister recently.

  •  He said, in the first six months of NDA government's tenure, New Delhi re-emphasized its Neighbourhood First policy and reinforced its relationships with all major countries. Dr Jaishankar also said, New Delhi has worked to expand its relations with the Gulf, South East Asia and African regions.

  •  He said, India also expressed its strong interest fulfilling its commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals and reforming the multilateral system. The Minister said, India has to engage large and small countries across all regions to shape the global agenda more effectively. This is required not only to advance country’s interest but also in view of high expectations the world has from New Delhi.

  •  Responding to questions on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Dr Jaishankar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a decision not to go forward on RCEP. He asserted that the government will do what is right for the country on trade matters as well as on all other matters.

Sudan passes law to dismantle regime and dissolve Bashir’s party

  •  In Sudan, authorities have ordered that the party of ousted President Omar al-Bashir be dissolved and all its properties be confiscated.

  •  Bashir and his Islamist National Congress Party had ruled the country since June 30, 1989 before a nationwide protest movement resulted in him being deposed him earlier this year.

  •  The country's ruling sovereign council and the cabinet led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok made the decision to dissolve the party, issuing a law titled "Dismantling of the regime of 30th June 1989".

  •  Hamdok wrote on Twitter that dissolution of the party was not revenge against the former rulers and it aims to preserve the dignity of people. He also said this decree aims to recover the plundered wealth of the people.

  •  Thousands of Sudanese rallied late last month in several cities, urging the new authorities to dissolve the former ruling party.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Indian scientists identifies protein that regulates blood sugar levels

  •  Scientists at the Hyderabad based Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have demonstrated the role of a protein Secretagogin (SCGN) in increasing insulin action in obesity-induced diabetes.

  •  Currently, the processes regulating insulin synthesis, secretion, signalling and maturation in diabetes were not completely understood by scientists. These findings were published in the latest issue of the journal iScience.

  •  As per CCMB the findings have established SCGN as a functional insulin-binding protein with therapeutic potential against diabetes. They show that SCGN binds to insulin and protects it from various stresses, increases its stability as well as adds to its action.

  •  The findings are significant as various kinds of cellular stresses can result in loss of structure and function of insulin, ultimately leading to diabetes.

  •  Diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often linked with each other. SCGN is found in lower quantities in brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

::SPORTS::

Sports ministry plans to make Fit India week mandatory in schools

  •  Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju today visited Kendriya Vidyalaya at Andrews Ganj in New Delhi to participate in Fitness Week Celebrations at the school.

  •  The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has taken the initiative of observing Fitness Week in the second, third and fourth week of November, as part of the Fit India Movement.

  •  Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that celebrating fitness week at this time of the year is a very good step. He said, it is being organized across all Kendriya Vidyalayas and he will encourage private schools to do the same.

  •  He said, Fit India Week in the month of November and December should be made mandatory across all schools as fitness is a very important part of a student’s life.

  •  Mr Rijiju said, Government is looking at integrating physical activity into the curriculum. He stated that there should be a technical evaluation and a progressive report card for fitness.

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