Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 May 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 May 2019


::NATIONAL::

Crucial EC recommendations pending since 2014 says experts

  • Among the 37 recommendations of the Election Commission’s working groups, pending since 2014, are the disqualification of candidates at the stage of framing of charges that attract a minimum of five years’ imprisonment; increased punishment for false affidavits; and permanent disqualification of those guilty of corruption and heinous crimes.

  • The nine working groups set up by the EC to suggest improvements in specific areas, based on their experience during the 2014 LokSabha elections, had submitted a total of 337 recommendations, of which 300 have been disposed of so far.

  • Among the suggestions was drafting of legal provisions to disqualify candidates for offences with a minimum of five years’ punishment on framing of charges, rather than on conviction.

  • With respect to the model code of conduct (MCC), which has been evolved through consensus among political parties, a working group had suggested amendments empowering the Commission to issue notice to a party for necessary corrections in its manifesto. It was also for the setting up of courts to adjudicate electoral offences and disallowing the use of government designations for the purposes of political publicity.

  • Another pending recommendation pertains to the introduction of indelible marker ink pens, instead of ink vials, as a pilot project. The quality check of the ink should be done by multiple independent laboratories, it was suggested.

  • Standardisation of elector photo identity card numbers, as they are 10 digits in some States and 16 in others, is also one of the issues, apart from the setting up of fast-track courts for speedy resolution of expenditure-related matters.

National workshop on population research centres held

  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is organizinga two-day orientation workshop for Population Research Centres (PRCs) to highlight the various features of the flagship schemes of the Health Ministry for concurrent monitoring.

  • Inaugurating the national workshop today at New Delhi, Ms.Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW) stated there is an urgent need for PRCs to reinvent themselves to become more relevant.

  • She further stated that PRCs should integrate with the institute they are anchored in for more thoughtful insights of local and current issues to enrich their research.

  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has established the network of 18 Population Research Centres (PRCs) spread over 17 major States/UTs, with the mandate to provide, inter alia, critical research based inputs related to the Health and Family Welfare programs and policies at the national and state levels.

  • The PRCs are autonomous in nature and administratively under the control of their host University/Institutions. The scheme started with establishment of 2 PRCs at Delhi and Kerala in 1958 and expanded to 18 PRCs with latest inclusion of PRC, Sagar during 1999.

  • The PRCs were established to undertake research projects relating to family planning, demographic research and biological studies & qualitative aspect of population control, with a view to gainfully utilize the feedback from these research studies for plan formulation, strategies and policy interventions of ongoing schemes.

::ECONOMY::

Three major PSU’s form joint venture to acquire reserves overseas

  • Three public sector units — National Aluminium Company (NALCO), Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Copper Ltd. — are set to sign by next month, a joint venture (JV) agreement for making overseas acquisition of reserves of rare metals like lithium and cobalt.

  • The first acquisition is likely to be made within six months NALCO will hold 34% of the proposed Rs. 100 crore equity, with the other two companies holding 33% each. “The JV will acquire assets in overseas countries,” HCL CMD Santosh Sharma said.

  • Expert teams have already visited countries holding such deposits like Chile, Peru and Bolivia, he said, adding that the tie-ups are likely to be between the governments. These rare metals are needed in devices such as mobile phones, laptops and also for electric vehicles.

  • He said that HCL hoped to increase its ore output by 25% to 51.5 lakh tonnes this fiscal through capacity expansion at its existing mines, reopening of closed mines and acquisition of new ones.

  • The company has earmarked about Rs. 1,200 crore towards capital expenditure. The flagship expansion project at Malanjkhand (where an underground project was being developed in the place of the existing opencast mine) will start production this fiscal, while work on reopening the Rakha and the ChapriSidheswar mines in Ghatsila would start soon.

Global childhood reports suggests children better off today than previous

  • Children born today have a better chance than at any time in history to grow up healthy, educated and protected, with the opportunity to reach their full potential, says the Global Childhood Report recently released by Save the Children, an NGO working for the education and protection of child rights.

  • The document indicates that in 2000, an estimated 970 million children were robbed of their childhood due to ill-health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child labour, child marriage, early pregnancy and violent death. That number has reduced to 690 million which effectively means that at least 280 million children are better off today than they would have been two decades ago.

  • However, it warns that the world has made less progress in reducing adolescent births and child homicide, and there has been no progress at all in reducing the number of children living in areas of violence and conflict.

  • “In fact, the number of children living in war zones or forced to flee their homes due to conflict has skyrocketed since 2000. Today, 1 child in 4 is being denied the right to a childhood — a time of life that should be safe for growing, learning and playing. These stolen childhoods are increasingly concentrated in the world’s conflict zones,’’ says the report.

  • Another important aspect brought was the fact that in 2016 alone, 85,000 boys and girls under the age of 20 were murdered. “About 40% of these victims were under 15. Each of these deaths represents hundreds or even thousands more children who live in violent or abusive environments,’’ it says.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

India criticises slow pace of UNSC reforms adoption

  • India has criticised the slow pace of UN Security Council reform process. The adoption of opaque methodologies, non-attribution of assertions and obfuscation of references by the member states are attributed to block the early reform of the world body.

  • India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said that the document co-chairs produced on the meetings of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) for reforms during the current General Assembly session had serious gaps and did not properly reflect the proceedings.

  • He was addressing an informal plenary meeting of the IGN on 'Question of equitable representation on an increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Council'.

  • The G-4 grouping of India, Japan, Brazil and Germany has been seeking expansion of the permanent and non-permanent seats of the Council to make it more representative and reflective of the changing global order.

  • The four nations support each other's bids for permanent seats on an expanded Security Council.

Saudi seeks international support to confront Iran

  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened an emergency summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Mecca yesterday with a call for the international community to use all means to confront Iran. But, he also said the kingdom extends its hand for peace.

  • King Salman was speaking at the first of three high-level summits in Mecca that were urgently convened after a spike in tensions between Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran.

  • Speaking at a gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council, King Salman said the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a drone attack on a key Saudi oil pipeline earlier this month requires serious efforts to protect the security and the gains of the six energy-rich Arab nations.

  • Iran denies being involved in the attacks. Attending yesterday night’s GCC summit were the leaders of Kuwait and Bahrain, as well as senior officials from the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.

  • The meeting will be immediately followed with an emergency summit of the 22-nation Arab League, minus Syria whose membership remains suspended.

  • Another summit is expected today, focusing largely on Palestinian statehood and independence. It will bring together leaders from the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Scientists go for disease prediction with microbial presence

  • We share our bodies with trillions of microbes that are critical to staying healthy, but now scientists are getting a much-needed close look at how those bugs can spur disease.

  • A single test to see what gut bacteria you harbour would not tell much. Research published on Wednesday found that repeat testing spotted the microbial zoo changing in ways that eventually may help doctors determine who’s at risk of preterm birth, inflammatory bowel disease, even diabetes.

  • Microbiomes start forming at birth and are different depending on whether babies were born vaginally or via C-section. And they change with age and different exposures, such as a course of antibiotics that can wipe out friendly bacteria along with infection-causing ones.

  • The researchers did quarterly tests for microbial, genetic and molecular changes, plus testing when the volunteers caught a respiratory infection and even while some deliberately put on and lost weight. Not surprisingly, they found a list of microbial and inflammatory early warning signs of brewing diabetes.

  • But most interestingly, people who are insulin-resistant showed delayed immune responses to respiratory infections, correlating with tamped-down microbial reactions.

::SPORTS::

India concludes with best performance in ISSF worldcup

  • In Shooting, India produced their best ever show at the ISSF World Cup with a total tally of five gold medals in Munich, Germany.India topped the medals tally with five golds and a silver. Second-placed China bagged nine medals - two gold, two silver and five bronze medals.

  • India gold medallists included ApurviChandela in the Women's 10 metre Air Rifle, RahiSarnobat in the Women's 25m Pistol and SaurabhChaudhary in the men's 10m Air Pistol, besides the Mixed Team titles won on the last day today.

  • The pair of AnjumMoudgil and Divyansh Singh Panwar first won the 10m Air Rifle mixed team gold. Teenage pair of Manu Bhaker and SaurabhChaudhary backed them up with the 10m Air Pistol mixed team title.

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