Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 December 2019


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 December 2019


::NATIONAL::

VP urges researchers and innovators to go beyond labs

  • Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu urged the students to stay healthy through physical exercise and proper food. He was addressing the National Children's Science Congress held at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala today.Mr Naidu said, knowledge is the biggest investment.

  • The innovative mind of the youth is the most powerful resource on the earth in this knowledge era. Students must be aware that the real purpose of science is to make people's lives comfortable and happy.

  • All our research and innovations must go beyond labs and try to solve the problems faced by the common people, he added.

  • Governor Arif Mohammed Khan presided the event while Kerala Minister of Tourism KadakampallySurendran and MLA V.K Prashanth were among the dignitaries attended the event.

  • Earlier in the day, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated of the silver jubilee celebration of SreeSatyasai Orphanage Trust at Saigramam in Thiruvananthapuram. He also inaugurated the 87th Sivagiri pilgrimage meeting in SivagiriTheerthadana Mutt in Varkala.

Study finds poor migrants moving to other rural areas

  • A survey of nearly 10,000 migrants in rural Bihar by Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad has found that rural migrants who move to urban areas tend to be from relatively well-off social and economic hierarchies. On the other, hand, poorer migrants tended to move to other rural areas.

  • The study found that 78% of all migrants from rural Bihar went to an urban destination. However, those belonging to the top of the social and economic hierarchy in villages are disproportionately represented in the rural-urban migrations.

  • Migrant who are more educated were more likely to move to urban areas – and they moved without having worked in the local rural economy.On the other hand, poorer migrants, who generally do manual labour, tended to move to other rural areas.

  • Households with migrants reported a higher annual income than households without migrants. More than 90 per cent of all migrants sent remittances, and remittances comprised 55 per cent of total income of households with migrants. Poorer households were more dependent on remittances than well-off households.

  • The data also showed that migration tended to increase with increasing incomes, showing that poverty is a constraining factor in migration. Migration rates were the lowest in the bottom-most income quintile and kept increasing until the fourth quintile – it falls again in the top income quintile. This has been the same pattern for all three surveys - 1999, 2011 and 2016.

::ECONOMY::

Govt. assures 5G spectrum trial to all players

  • Union Government has decided to give 5G spectrum for trial to all players in the country.

  • Addressing a function in New Delhi after launching a Web Portal for customers of Delhi to facilitate blocking and tracing of stolen or lost mobile phones, Communication and Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the in-principle decision has been taken in this regard.

  • He said 5G is future and government will encourage new innovation in 5G spectrum.

  • Our correspondent reports a project called Central Equipment Identity Register, CEIR system has been undertaken by the Department of Telecommunications for addressing security, theft and other concerns including reprogramming of mobile handsets.

  • The project in Delhi will facilitate the request for blocking of stolen or lost mobile phone by customers and blocking of such mobile phones across mobile networks.

  • Sharing of traceability data with Police Authorities and unblocking of recovered and found stolen or lost mobile phones.

GoM set up to review crop insurance scheme

  • Concerned over exit of a few states, dropping out of insurance companies and growing dissent among farmers on the government’s flagship crop insurance scheme, the centre has set up a seven-member group of ministers (GoM) headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh to review the scheme and recommend changes to make it more farmer friendly.

  • There have been demands for making crop insurance voluntary to all farmers, removal of high premium crops and giving flexibility to states to provide customised add-on products.

  • States like Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have exited from the central scheme and have launched their own crop insurance scheme.

  • Similarly, ICICI Lombard,Tata AIG, Cholamandalam MS, and Shriram General Insurance have opted out of this scheme citing losses in the crop insurance business due to high loss ratio, which refers to claims paid plus adjustment expenses against premium earned.

  • The scheme provides comprehensive crop insurance from pre-sowing to post-harvest period against non-preventable natural risks at extremely low premium rates a farmer has to pay - 2% for kharif crops, 1.5% for rabi crops and 5% for horticulture and commercial crops. The remaining amount of premium is equally shared by central and the respective state governments.

  • Farmers too are not happy with this scheme. They complain that state governments use their discretionary powers to decide how much land will be insured and the sum insured to reduce their burden of subsidy premiums.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

UN envoy warns of likely escalation in Libya conflict

  • The UN's Libya envoy has said that military and maritime agreements signed between Turkey and the Tripoli government represent an escalation of the conflict in the North African country.

  • GhassanSalame's remarks came as Egypt called for an urgent meeting tomorrow of the Cairo-based Arab League to discuss developments in Libya and the possibility of an escalation there.

  • Libya has been mired in conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictatorMoamerKadhafi in 2011, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for power.

  • In April, military strongman KhalifaHaftar, who is based in the east, launched an assault to seize the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

  • In November Ankara signed a security and military cooperation deal with the GNA and also inked a maritime jurisdiction agreement with the Tripoli government.

  • In addition, Turkey is preparing to hold a vote in parliament on deploying troops in support of the GNA in its battle against Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

China jails scientist who gene edited babies

  • A Chinese court on Monday sentenced the scientist who claimed to be behind the world’s first gene-edited babies to three years in prison for illegal medical practice, state media reported.

  • He, who was educated at Stanford University, was sentenced by a court in Shenzhen for “illegally carrying out the human embryo gene-editing intended for reproduction”, Xinhua said. Two of his fellow researchers were also sentenced.

  • Zhang Renli was handed a two-year jail term and fined one million yuan while Qin Jinzhou was given 18 months, suspended for two years, and fined 500,000 yuan.

  • The trio had not obtained qualifications to work as doctors and had knowingly violated China’s regulations and ethical principles, according to the court verdict, Xinhua said.

  • They had acted “in the pursuit of personal fame and gain” and seriously “disrupted medical order”, it said. The researchers had forged ethical review materials and recruited couples where the husband was HIV positive for their gene-editing experiments.

  • The trial was held behind closed doors as the case related to “personal privacy”, Xinhua said. He’s gene-editing experiments resulted in two pregnancies — the twin girls and third baby which had not previously been confirmed, it said.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

IIT researchers develop materials to produce energy from water

  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati Researchers have developed materials that can produce energy from water, on a small scale.

  • In the centralized energy generation model, one large plant produces energy for an entire region, in contrast, the decentralized energy model introduces a large number of small generation devices that can be employed to generate in every household.

  • The excess energy produced in households can be transported nearby areas where there is an excessive need for energy. The researchers of IIT Guwahati employed the nanoscale phenomenon called “Electrokinetic streaming potential” to harvest energy from flowing water on the small length scale like water flowing through household water taps.

  • Similarly, the “Contrasting Interfacial Activities” different types of semiconducting materials were employed to generate power from stagnant water.

  • In order to extract power from stagnant water, devices were fabricated by employing doped graphene flakes. The complementary charge transfer activities of doped graphene flakes based devices generate power just upon dipping in any kind of water source, like lake, river or seawater.

::SPORTS::

IOA withdraws boycott call for commonwealth games

  • Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has withdrawn its threat to boycott the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham over Shooting's exclusion. It also announced that the country will bid to host either the 2026 or the 2030 edition.

  • During its Annual General Meeting in New Delhi, the IOA, on the advice of Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), also decided to submit a formal proposal to host a Commonwealth Shooting Championships before the main Games, an idea mooted by both the national and international shooting bodies to make up for the sport's exclusion from 2022 CWG.

  • CGF President Dame Louise Martin welcomed India confirming participation at the Birmingham Games.

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