Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 January 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 January 2020


Centre to augment lab facilities for screening of corona virus

  • The government has decided to augment the lab facilities in the country for a screening of Novel Coronavirus. Six more labs will start functioning from today. These are NIV Bengaluru Unit, Victoria Hospital Campus, KR Road, Fort, Bengaluru, AIIMS, New Delhi, NCDC, Delhi, Kasturba Hospital for infectious diseases, Mumbai and NIV - Kerala Unit.

  • All those who have come from China after the 15th of this month shall be tested as there is an incubation period for the virus. The Cabinet Secretary stressed the need for 14 days’ home isolation for all those who have returned from China. It was also advised that the trip to China should be avoided.

  • The discharge portal for patients have been prepared by DGHS which is being disseminated. The government has decided to put up check-posts in relevant tourist locations for better surveillance.

  • Gram panchayats are being organized to make people more aware of the symptoms, precautions, and measures taken by the State Governments regarding prevention and management for Novel Coronavirus in villages bordering Nepal.

  • States have been advised to open control rooms, appoint a nodal officer and popularize the control room number. IEC material is to be prepared in the local language by the concerned States.

  • One positive case of Novel Coronavirus patient, of a student studying the Wuhan University, has been reported in Kerala. The patient has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus and is in isolation in the hospital. The patient is stable and is being closely monitored.

India hopeful to lead global sustainable energy agenda

  • Petroleum Minister DhamendraPradhan has said that India will continue to lead the global sustainable energy agenda. He was delivering the key note address at the TERI’s World Sustainable Development Summit 2020 on ‘Energy Future Road Map’ in New Delhi today.

  • Mr Pradhan said, India is in the midst of a major transformative shift in the energy sector, both in scale and complexity and also the interdependence across different systems. He said, the trajectory to end energy poverty in India, as compared to the rest of the world, is based on the special national circumstances.

  • The Minister added that the right mix of enablers are being put in place to ensure that the energy transition is secure, affordable, reliable and sustainable.

  • He assured that to end energy poverty in the country, Government will remain cognizant of the need to root economic development firmly to achieve the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and commitments made at COP 21.

  • He said the Government has set out a road map for reducing India's crude oil imports by 10 per cent by 2022. The Government is working towards transformation to a gas-based economy, tapping into indigenously produced biofuels, apart from adopting renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, to achieve the much-needed carbon reductions.

  • The Minister stressed that India will continue to play an active role in leading the global sustainable energy agenda.


NITI Aayog vice chairman suggests alternative measures to boost economy

  • The government should focus on alternate measures to stimulate economy as it is not possible to give fiscal stimulus, NitiAayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said ahead of the Budget.

  • Kumar also said growth-enhancing measures are the need of the hour to achieve India's potential growth rate of 7-8 per cent per annum.He attributed the current slowdown to low investment, muted consumption expenditure and lagging exports.

  • The NitiAayog's vice-chairman noted that some green shoots of recovery are now visible with the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for both manufacturing and services showing a smart rise to above 52, which signifies expansion.

  • He also said there have already been plenty of measures taken by the government in the recent past, including the decision to lower corporate tax rates in September 2019.

  • The National Statistical Office (NSO) has estimated the gross domestic product (GDP) in the current financial year at 5 per cent, which is 11-year low.During the current year ending March 2020, the fiscal deficit target has been pegged at 3.3 per cent of the GDP.

Livestock and fisheries sector seek revival ahead of union budget

  • If the government aims to double the income of farmers by 2022, then certain measures should be taken in the upcoming Union budget for the livestock and fisheries sector, feels industry.

  • The PradhanMantriMatsyaSampadaYojana which was announced in the last Union budget is yet to get approval from the cabinet. As the scheme aims to boost fish and aquatic products through appropriate policy, marketing and infrastructure support, it will be highly beneficial for the aqua farmers if the scheme gets implemented.

  • The budget should take concrete steps to ensure the scheme gets cabinet approval at the earliest, said AmitSaraogi, managing director, Anmol Feeds.

  • The newly formed fisheries ministry is already drafting an Rs 45,000 crore budget for the next five years that would cover all aspects of fishing.

  • Fish is the highest and easiest profit-making commodity and it is a sector that can provide employment. Returns are almost guaranteed in fish farming. At least, for the next five years this sector will not see any setback. Hence, an overarching policy that would promote marine fishery, aquaculture and mariculture will be favourable for the sector.

  • The livestock sector has been incurring losses from the past year due to shortage of raw materials, especially maize and soya. The government should allow import of genetically modified maize and soya for feed manufacturers which will help to bring down the price of the raw materials considerably and in order make feed more affordable to farmers, added Saraogi.

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EU parliament approves Brexit deal

  • Britain's departure from the European Union was backed by European lawmakers Wednesday, after a debate that mixed warm words of love with hard-headed warnings to the country not to seek too many concessions during upcoming trade talks on a future relationship.

  • While backing Britain's departure in the wake of the country's vote to leave in a referendum in June 2016, EU countries are already preparing for the possibility that talks on a new trade deal with Britain could collapse by the end of the year, and no-deal contingency planning for a chaotic end to the transition period is necessary.

  • After Britain's departure on Friday, the U.K. will remain within the EU's economic arrangements until the end of the year though it won't have a say in policy as it will not be a member of the EU anymore.

  • The EU has said such a timespan is far too short and fears remain that a chaotic exit, averted this week, might still happen at the end of the year if the transition ends without any agreement in place.

  • Britain is the first country to leave the EU and for many in Europe its official departure at 11 p.m. London time on Friday, Jan. 31 is a moment of enormous sadness and reduces the number in the bloc to 27.

U.S passes law in Dalai Lama succession issue

  • The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that authorises financial and travel sanctions against Chinese officials who interfere in the process of selecting the successor to the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet.

  • The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, will also prohibit China from opening any new consulate in the US until Beijing allows Washington to open its diplomatic station in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

  • Under the draft legislation, Washington would freeze any American asset and ban US travel of Chinese officials if they are found to be involved in "identifying or installing" a Dalai Lama approved by Beijing.

  • Though introduced as a stand-alone piece of legislation, the bill serves as an amendment to the Tibet Policy Act of 2002, which codified the US position of support for the Tibetan people.

  • Last year, the US Congress passed the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, demanding that American journalists, diplomats and tourists be given the same freedom to travel to Tibet that Chinese officials have to travel freely in the US.

  • The bill also mandates the US State Department to begin collaborative and multinational efforts to protect the environment and water resources of the Tibetan Plateau.


African cheetahs to be introduced in India as supreme courts lifts stay

  • Supreme Court ruled that African Cheetah shall be permitted to be introduced in India. The cat is being introduced on experimental basis.

  • The Apex Court had put the move on hold 10 years back. It was proposed by the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

  • The proposal was to introduce foreign Cheetahs into the PalpurKuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. However, the Apex Court stalled the proposal fearingthe Cheetahs might become into conflict with the project of reintroduction of lions in the sanctuary.

  • Supreme Court formed a three-member committee based on whose recommendation the judgement was pronounced.Cheetah is the only mammal being hunted to extinction in India. The last Cheetah was sighted in 1952.

  • Cheetahs are classified as “Critically Endangered” under the IUCN Red List.With the Cheetahs extinct in India, the environmentalists suggest that it is essential to reintroduce them in order to maintain balance in the ecosystem.


Rani Rampal becomes first hockey player to win World Games Athlete of the year award

  • Indian women's team captain Rani Rampal became the first-ever hockey player to win the prestigious 'World Games Athlete of the Year' award.

  • The World Games announced the winner last night after 20 days of polling in January this year by sports fans worldwide.

  • Congratulating Rani, the World Games said with 1,99,477 votes, she is the clear winner of the Athlete of the Year race. All in all, over 7,05,610 votes were cast during the poll.

  • Last year, India won the FIH Series Finals, and Rani was named Player of the Tournament. Under Rani's leadership, the Indian women's team qualified for just the third Olympic Games in its history.

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