Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 August 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 August 2019


::NATIONAL::

PM terms new India as an era of responsible govt.and participative democracy

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the New India is about participative democracy, a citizen-centric government and proactive citizenry.
  •  New India is the era of responsive people and responsive government, he said. Addressing the Manorama News Conclave 2019 in Kochi through video conferencing, Prime Minister said that India is changing fast and this change is happening for the good.
  •  Thousands of talented youngsters are creating fantastic platforms, showcasing their spirit of enterprise. India is now excelling in new arenas where we hardly present earlier, he added.
  •  New India is not about the voice of a selected a few, it is about each and every Indian, Prime Minister said. We will be a nation free of corruption and we make good governance a mass movement, he added.
  •  Our vision for New India includes not only caring for those living in the nation but also outside. Our diaspora is our pride, contributes to India's economic growth, PM said.
  •  Union Minister Prakash Javadekar delivered a keynote address in the Conclave. Perform, Reform and Transform are the three pillars of New India vision, he said. Press freedom, thought freedom and speaking freedom are an integral part of Government's New India policy, he added.
  •  Freedom of the press is very much essential for the success of democracy and it should be responsible, he said. Social Media should show self-regulatory mechanism. There is no ban for Press in Kashmir valley and the restrictions are being lifted day by day, he said.

India and Pakistan agrees to attend SAARC meeting in U.S

  •  India and Pakistan are expected to participate in the Foreign Minister-level meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in New York on September 26, a diplomatic source has confirmed. The meeting has remained on track despite the state of tension between the two countries.
  •  “We have asked both India and Pakistan informally and formally if they would proceed with the planned meeting of September 26 in New York and they have communicated that there is no change in the previous plans,” said the source.
  •  The meeting is an annual affair that takes place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s session. It will be the first occasion since August 5, where the Foreign Ministers will be seen in a single venue.
  •  The person concerned said India had confirmed participation of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar before the current tensions erupted over Kashmir. On Thursday it reminded Pakistan to tone down rhetoric and urged it to behave like a “normal neighbour”.

::ECONOMY::

Centre announces merging of public sector banks

  •  The government has announced the merger of ten public sector banks into four banks. It announced the merger of Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank with Punjab National Bank as well as the merger of Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank.
  •  The merger of Union Bank of India, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank and the consolidation of Indian Bank with Allahabad Bank was also announced. Briefing media in New Delhi yesterday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that government wants a strong financial system to make the country a five trillion economy.
  •  The Finance Minister said, after the merger of banks, the country will now have 12 public sector banks instead of 27. She said, the profitability of public sector banks has improved and total gross non-performing assets have come down to 7.9 lakh crore rupees in March this year from 8.65 lakh crore rupees in December last year.
  •  She also clarified that no retrenchment has taken place post-merger of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank and staff has been redeployed and best practices in each bank have been replicated in others.
  •  Ms Sitharaman also unveiled governance reforms in public sector banks, saying their boards will be given autonomy and enabled to do succession planning.

Govt. considers total privatisation of Air India

  •  The government will embark on ‘total’, or 100%, privatisation of Air India, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday.
  •  “The government’s determination to privatise AI is a given, it’s undiluted. It should be total privatisation. We have to get the best possible deal in the shortest time possible,” Mr. Puri said at a press conference. In its earlier attempt at disinvestment of Air India, the government had sought to sell 76% of its stake and retain the remainder.
  •  The government’s refusal to exit completely from Air India was among the main reasons why no private player came forward to participate in the privatisation process.
  •  The government has learnt from its past mistakes and, therefore, has realised the need for a complete exit from Air India. Another major obstacle it has sought to circumvent is the huge debt size of ₹58,000 crore until March 2019.
  •  It has hived off ₹29,000 crore of this and transferred it to a special purpose vehicle to provide relief to the airline in terms of interest it has to pay on the debt as well as to attract private players.
  •  The Minister refused to comment if the government would retire more debt when it offers the national carrier for privatisation again.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

ADB pledges assistance to Pakistan for developmental activities

  •  Cash-strapped Pakistan will get about $7 billion in fresh assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for various development projects over the next three years.
  •  The ADB plans to provide Pakistan about $7 billion in fresh assistance for various development projects and policy-based programmes during the next three years under the country operations business plan 2020—2022,” Mr. Chen was quoted as saying in the report.
  •  Highlighting the ADB’s relationship with Pakistan, Mr. Chen said that over the last five decades, Pakistan and the ADB have worked together to develop the country’s key infrastructure, promote exports and improve private sector, develop the country’s financial market and improve urban services among other activities.
  •  Pakistan is facing “significant economic challenges” due to a weak and unbalanced growth and its economy is at a critical juncture where it needs an ambitious and bold set of reforms, according to the IMF, which recently approved a $6 billion bailout package to the country.
  •  Pakistan has also received billions of dollars in financial aid packages from friendly countries like China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in recent months.

Yemeni government reclaims crucial areas from separatists

  •  Yemeni officials and local residents say forces loyal to the country’s internationally recognized government have wrested control of the capital of southern Abyan province from separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.
  •  They say government forces on Wednesday pushed the UAE-backed militia, known as the Security Belt, out of Zinjibar after clasher that left at least one dead and 30 wounded fighters. They say the militia fled to nearby Aden province.
  •  The separatists had seized Zinjibar earlier this month. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the fighting while the residents spoke anonymously, fearing reprisal.
  •  Meanwhile Yemen’s government on Thursday accused the UAE of launching air strikes against its troops in the interim capital Aden in support of separatists.
  •  The United Arab Emirates has trained and supported secessionists who seek an independent southern Yemen, although it is a key pillar in a Saudi-led military coalition backing the Yemeni government against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Centre launches national laboratory online

  •  Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday launched an online directory, which provides information about Indian standards of various products and testing infrastructure in the country for the benefit of various stakeholders such as start-ups.
  •  There are estimated 10,000 labs across the country. Currently, about 4,500 labs owned by public and private academic institutions are listed on the online directory.
  •  “The directory is a one-stop solution for all testing requirements and houses information about all testing facilities available in the country today,” Mr. Paswan said after the launch of the directory.
  •  At single click, from individual users to entrepreneurs to exporters to companies, everyone can know about testing requirements and location of testing labs in the country.
  •  Elaborating more, the government’s standard-setting body Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) director general, Surina Rajan, said the directory provides in detail what products can be tested against which standards — Indian or international.
  •  About 4,500 labs have come on this directory. The BIS owns only eight labs and recognises 208 labs, which are National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)-certified. BIS has 200 more labs that are special purpose labs, she added.

::SPORTS::

Centre to consider setting up sports academy for the disabled

  •  Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale has said that the Ministry will look into the proposal of setting up of Sports Academy for Disabled worth 350 crore rupees in Meghalaya.
  •  Following a meeting with Meghalaya Minister of Social Welfare Department Krymen Shylla at Shillong, he told that Meghalaya Government has requested for the construction of Sports Academy for Disabled and has given 50 acres of land for this purpose.
  •  He said that 4,800 differently-abled persons from Meghalaya have benefited from five camps organized by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.Till date, the Ministry has organized more than 8,000 camps for differently-abled across the country, he said.

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