Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 July 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 July 2020


India claims disengagement process at LAC not completed

  • India today said the disengagement process along the LAC has not yet been completed although there has been some progress. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson AnuragSrivastava said the Senior Commanders of India and China will be meeting in the near future to work out steps in this regard. He said, the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is the basis of the bilateral relationship.
  • The spokesperson said India therefore expects that the Chinese side will sincerely work together for complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas at the earliest as agreed to by the Special Representatives. 
  • In the 17th meeting of the Working Mechanism, the two sides reviewed the situation in the India-China border areas along the Line of Actual Control in the Western sector. 
  • They agreed that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control and de-escalation from India-China border areas in accordance with bilateral agreement and protocols and full restoration of peace and tranquility was essential for smooth overall development of bilateral relations.
  • This was also the agreement reached between the two Special Representatives, NSA and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in their conversation on 5th July.
  • Third, it does away with the environmental impact assessment altogether in many cases of expansion. Fourth, it increases the validity of environment clearances allowing projects to “secure” land for long durations even when they are not constructed. 
  • And finally it gives the Union government full powers to appoint State environmental impact assessment authorities.

AYUSH ministry launches new web portal

  • Ayush Minister  ShripadYessoNaik today reviewed the centrally- sponsored scheme of National Ayush Mission and operationalization of AYUSH Health and Wellness Centers during a webinar of Health and Ayush Ministers of all states.
  • Addressing the webinar, Mr Naik requested Health and Ayush Ministers to give due focus to the early establishment and operationalization of AYUSH Health and Wellness Centers to strengthen the primary Healthcare delivery system in real-terms and to extend the AYUSH health care to the needy. 
  • He emphasized the need to speed up the pace of work sanctioned under National AYUSH Mission and AYUSH Health and Wellness Centers, so that the benefit may reach to the common people.
  • In the webinar, 15 Health/AYUSH Ministers shared their views on Operationalization of AYUSH Health & Wellness Centers and progress and implementation of National AYUSH Mission in their respective states and Union Territories. 



India’s gold demand falls to 11 year low 

  • India’s gold demand for the April-June quarter of 2020 contracted to 63.7 tonnes, a decline of 70% compared with 213.2 tonnes in the same period last year. This is an 11-year low, World Gold Council (WGC) said.
  • The lowest demand was last witnessed in the January-March quarter of 2009 at 40 tonnes.
  • India’s gold demand during the quarter was valued at ₹26,600 crore, down by 57%, compared with ₹62,420 crore a year earlier, WGC data showed. Total jewellery demand in India decreased 74% to 44 tonnes. It stood at 168.6 tonnes in the April-June quarter of 2019.
  • The value of jewellery demand was ₹18,350 crore, down by 63% from ₹49,380 crore in the same period last year. Total investment demand for the quarter at 19.8 tonnes was a 56% fall compared with 44.5 tonnes in the same period last year.
  • In value terms, demand for gold investment was ₹8,250 crore, down by 37%.Total gold imports during the quarter was 11.6 tonnes, down by 95% compared with 247.4 tonnes year-on-year.
  • Addressing a video conference, Somasundaram P.R., managing director, India, World Gold Council, said, “The quarter was defined by lockdowns and high prices, both of which acted in combination to keep India’s gold demand at a record low of 63.7 tonnes, down 70%.”

Parliamentary panel to discuss draft EIA 

  • After a flurry of letters between Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and Union Environment Minister PrakashJavadekar on the implications of the Draft Environment Impact Assessment 2020 (EIA 2020), the Parliamentary Committee of Science and Technology headed by Mr. Ramesh will deliberate on the subject at its meeting scheduled for August 7.
  • Mr. Ramesh wrote his first letter to Mr.Javadekar on July 25 saying that the proposed changes in the EIA display a mindset that “environmental regulations are unnecessary regulatory burden.”
  • He says the draft allowed post-facto approvals which go against the very principle of assessment and public participation prior to environmental clearance, and has provisions that will routinely legitimise illegality. 


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US urges Pakistan to remove abused blasphemy laws

  • Expressing shock and outrage at the killing of American citizen TahirNaseem inside a courtroom in Pakistan, the US has urged Islamabad to immediately reform its often-abused blasphemy laws and bring the culprit to justice.
  • Naseem, 57, accused of blasphemy, was shot multiple times at close range inside Peshawar's Judicial Complex on Wednesday as he awaited to be shifted to prison. He died on the spot.The attacker was arrested on the spot and the pistol used in the killing was seized.
  • The US government has been providing consular assistance to Naseem and his family since his detention in 2018 and has called the attention of senior Pakistani officials to his case to prevent the type of shameful tragedy that eventually occurred, he said. 
  • Pakistan's blasphemy laws are indefensible, to begin with, but it is outrageous beyond belief that the Pakistani government was incapable of keeping an individual from being murdered within a court of law for his faith, and a US citizen, nonetheless, said United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Johnnie Moore in a statement.
  • As USCIRF has noted countless times, Pakistan's blasphemy law inflames inter-religious tensions and too often leads to violence, said USCIRF Vice Chair AnurimaBhargava.
  • Naseem was first arrested in April 2018 after a local accused him of blasphemy. According to the FIR, the prisoner was charged in February 2019 under the country's blasphemy law. The deceased had denied the charges and decided to stand trial.

India- Mauritius expands development partnership

  • Prime Minister NarendraModi said India’s relationship with partner countries is based on principles of mutual development and trust. He said, India never commits into any relationship considering the financial implications or profitability.
  • External Affairs Ministry today said the new Supreme Court building in Mauritius is another landmark project completed under India’s development partnership. 
  • Briefing media this evening, Ministry spokesperson said, this is an example of India's ability to implement such projects in various parts of the world. He said the project has been completed on schedule and at a cost below the initial estimates. 
  • India is making development partnerships that are marked by respect for partners, diversity, care for the future and sustainable development. 



Exotic species of animals rescued in Assam

  • Forest officials in southern Assam’s Cachar district have rescued a kangaroo and blue macaws among exotic wildlife species being smuggled out of Mizoram. They were packed among crates of fruits in a truck.
  • The seizure of these animals came less than two years after sleuths of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) busted an international syndicate of exotic wildlife smugglers whose kingpin was based in Mizoram. That operation in October 2018 was carried out simultaneously in Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati and Mizoram’s capital Aizawl.
  • “The forest personnel were on a routine check of trucks around 11.30 p.m. on Tuesday for detecting illegal timber being carried. Foul smell emanating from one of the trucks made them suspicious,” said SunnydeoChaudhary, Cachar’s Divisional Forest Officer.
  • A closer inspection revealed a kangaroo from Australia, six hyacinth or blue macaws and two capuchin monkeys from South America and three Aldabra tortoises, one of the largest species from the Seychelles group of islands.



Ashleigh Barty pulls out of US open championship

  • World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has pulled out of the US Open, to be held from August 31 to September 13 in New York, because she doesn’t want to risk travelling during the pandemic.
  • The 24-year-old Australian is yet to decide if she’ll defend her French Open title. The second Slam will begin on Sept. 27.


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