Current Affairs , 18th OCTOBER 2019
- January 9, 2020
- Posted By : upliftlife
- 0 Comment
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Release of two diagnostic kits developed under ‘Make in India’ initiative
- Validation and Closing Ceremony:Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Military Exercise Kazind 19
- North East Expo 2019
- President Ram Nath Kovind leaves on a week-long tour to Philippines, Japan
- Three accused in PMC Bank scam
- Inviting global investors to India
- CBIC and Customs launches scheme to attract investment and support Make in India
- The 2019 Global Hunger Index report
- IMF’s 2019 World Economic Outlook (WEO) has been released
- Qatar plans to end so-called ‘kafala’ system
- Sri Lanka’s EC warns political parties not to use war or war-victories for presidential campaign
- UAE announces establishment of 1st graduate-level, research-based AI university in world
- Maldives calls for better collaboration with Indian business entities to boost trade
- World Record: Mumbai’s Yashasvi Jaiswal, youngest cricketer to score 200 in One Day cricket
- Denmark Badminton Open: Saina crashes out of tournament, Sameer advances to second round
1. Release of two diagnostic kits developed under ‘Make in India’ initiative
· Two diagnostic kits developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, namely the Bluetongue sandwich ELISA (sELISA) and the Japanese Encephalitis lgM ELISA kit for the control of Swine and Detection of Antigen, were released by Shri Atul Chaturvedi, Secretary Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying and Dr. T. Mahopatra, Secretary DARE and DG, ICAR at Krishi Bhawan today. This indigenous technology will not just help save foreign exchange as the newly developed kits cost ten times lesser than the imported ones but also has the potential to earn foreign exchange.
· Addressing the gathering, Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra briefed about the main characteristics of the two Kits. Talking about the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) ELISA Kit (IgM) for Swine, Dr. Mohapatra mentioned that the JE is a re-emerging viral zoonotic disease leading to death of children every year in the country. The kit developed by the ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute is really helpful for assessing the active infection of JE virus in the swine population which predicts the outbreak of JE in the humans. As compared to the commercial kit available in the market at a price of Rs. 52,000; the ICAR-IVRI developed is available for the farmers at a minimal price of Rs. 5,000 only. The Director General mentioned that each kit is meant for testing around 45 samples.
· Highlighting the key features of another Kit “Bluetongue: Sandwich ELISA for detection of Antigen”, Dr. Mohapatra stated that the Bluetongue (BT) virus is an insect-transmitted viral disease of domestic and wild ruminants that includes the camelid species. The disease is widespread among the sheep, goats, cattle, buffaloes and camels in the country. With the help of the Kit, the Bluetongue Virus can be controlled with the vaccination of susceptible animals, vector control and quarantine of infected animals with the good management practices. Apart from the vaccination, the early diagnosis and isolation of the infected animals are one of the commonly suggested preventive methods for controlling the spreading of the disease.
· Shri Atul Chaturvedi applauded the joint initiative by the ICAR and the Department of Animal Husbandry as an incredible initiative. Shri Chaturvedi stated that release of these two Kits will definitely be beneficial for not only the farming community, but the society as a whole. Citing about the number of casualties caused by the deadliest diseases in the societies every year, the Secretary mentioned that the Kits will prove to be a real helping hand.
· Shri Sushil Kumar, Additional Secretary (DARE) & Secretary (ICAR) applauded the ICAR & Department of Animal Husbandry’s initiative in the designated direction. Shri Kumar stated that the kits have been prepared with care. He accentuated that proper research works by the scientists of both the organizations were carried out before the official launching of the Kits. The Kits were also tested against the mentioned virus and diseases caused by the animals for their validity.
· Dr. R.K. Singh, Director, Indian Veterinary Research Institute emphasized on the measures to be adopted for controlling the spread of various harmful diseases by the birds, pigs and other animals. He stressed that humans are more prone to the transmittable diseases. He expressed his concerns about the various cases in which the children are more affected by the diseases as compared to the younger or older ones. He mentioned that the Kits will provide help in achieving our targets effectively and efficiently.
2. Validation and Closing Ceremony
Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Military Exercise Kazind – 2019
- The fourth edition of joint Indo-Kazakhstan military exercise KAZIND-2019 concluded today at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. The exercise included joint training in mountainous as well as jungle terrain. Important lectures, demonstrations and drills related to counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations were rehearsed and executed jointly.
- As part of validation exercise held on 15 October 2019, troops of both the armies carried out specialised joint counter terrorist operations including cordon and search operations which was witnessed by dignitaries of both the armies.
- The validation exercise was reviewed by Maj Gen Kabindra Singh, General Officer Commanding Uttar Bharat Area of the Indian Army in presence of senior Army officers of both the participating countries. The Kazakhstan side was represented by Maj Gen Daulat Ospanav, Chief of Staff of armed forces of Kazakhstan. The exercise concluded on 15 October 2019 with a ceremonial closing ceremony, which included a grand cultural show presented by both the countries.
- Exercise KAZIND-2019 was very successful in increasing the bonhomie and camaraderie amongst both the participating nations. The troops shared best practices being followed by both nations in counter terrorism operations in mountainous and jungle terrain and the exercise provided an opportunity to both the armies for greater understanding and strengthening mutual trust and cooperation.
3. North East Expo 2019
- Union Minister of State for Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Departments of Atomic Energy and Space, Dr.Jitendra Singh presided over as Chief Guest at the Curtain Raiser event for the North East Expo 2019, organised in New Delhi today. The Regional Commissioners of the 8 North East states also attended the curtain raiser event.
- The All India Women’s Education Fund Association (AIWEFA) organized the event.To celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150thbirth anniversary, 100 years of his association with Khadi and 91 years of AIWEFA’s service to women and communities, the campaign ‘Khadi Goes Global’has been initiated. It brings together all the eight states of northeast India to create a platform with the North East Handloom, Handicrafts and the Farm Sector, at the North East Expo, 2019, on 2–3 November, 2019.
- Khadi is a symbol of women’s empowerment as most of the spinners, weavers and handicraft artisans in the northeast are women. Hence, it is important to bring Khadi to the mainstream as it will help weavers, especiallywomen, continue to create more jobs.
- Addressing the event, Dr. Singh said that in the last 5 years, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited North East over 30 times, which shows the kind of importance this government attaches with the states of the North East.
- The Minister observed that this importance given by the government has bridged the gaps of growth and development in North East as well as broken psychological barriers in the minds of the people. “The government has managed to bring the rest of India closer to the North East”, he added.
- Singh talked about the steps being taken by the Union government for the development of the North East. He informed how the transport infrastructure, including rail tracks, highways, airports, had increased exponentially in the last 5 years with the constant interest being taken by the Prime Minister.
- The Minister said that 35% of total bamboo production in India comes from the North East, but it was not utilised due to obsolete laws. Due to visionary leadership of the Prime Minister, bamboo was exempted from the Forest Act and it could be utilized for commercial use and boost handicrafts of the North East. “This government under the leadership of the Prime Minister believes in the conviction to think for the last man rather than going by any other consideration”, the Minister said.
- Singh informed how ‘Start up India, Stand up India’ programme has led to young entrepreneurs in the North East starting their ventures by utilising the human and material resources in these states. “The day is not far when the North East would become the start up hub of the country”, he said.
- Singh also talked about how the government is planning to replicate the success stories of development of North East in Jammu & Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.
- Talking about making ‘Khadi Go Global’, Dr. Singh put forward the vision of using latest technology in boosting the production of khadi and making it competitive globally. This would also help in generating immense employment opportunities in this sector, he added.
- The North East Expo, 2019, will provide a platform for entrepreneurs from the eight northeast states to open up trade and commerce with ASEAN and BIMSTEC nations through Tea Diplomacy and Khadi Diplomacy. It will include panel discussions, back-to-back meetings, art, culture, food stalls, and stalls on northeast handlooms and handicrafts. This event also aims to identify and carry out preservation of the distinctive arts of the different tribes of the North East.
- The objective of panel discussions is to analyse the current state of unique foodproducts, Handlooms and Handicrafts from the North East region. The panel willfurther look to understand its contribution to the local economy, identify issuesand challenges concerning their sustainability and outline measures needed forstrengthening and promoting the unique ecosystem globally.
- At the expo, AIWEFA will also introduce two awards—The Prime Minister’s Award for Master Weaver and the other for the Master Crafts person for the year 2018–19.
4.President Ram Nath Kovind leaves on a week-long tour to Philippines, Japan
- President Ram Nath Kovind left on a week-long visit to the Philippines and Japan this morning. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Mr Kovind is visiting Japan to attend the enthronement ceremony of the Emperor of Japan Naruhito.
- Vijay Thakur Singh, MEA Secretary (East), said the President will be in the Philippines from October 17th to 21st and in Japan from October 21st to 23rd.
- the participation of President Kovind in the enthronement ceremony signifies the high importance India attaches to its ties with Japan.
5.Three accused in PMC Bank scam
- A Mumbai court has remanded three of the accused in PMC Bank scam to judicial custody till 23rd October. The three accused, chairman and managing director of Housing Development Infrastructure Limited, Rakesh Wadhawan, his son Sarang and PMC Bank’s former chairman Waryam Singh were produced before Metropolitan Magistrate S G Shaikh yesterday.
- Later in the day, the Enforcement Directorate approached Mumbai’s special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases, seeking the Wadhawans’ custody. The court asked the ED to complete necessary formalities and adjourned its plea without giving a specific date.
- Earlier this month, Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police had registered a case against the Wadhawans and top officials of PMC Bank for allegedly causing losses to the tune of 4,355 crore rupees to the bank.
6.Inviting global investors to India
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that investors can find no better place in the world than India. Ms Sitharaman said that India has a democratic environment that respects capitalists. She was speaking at an event hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), in association with the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum, at the IMF headquarters in Washington.
- The Finance Minister said that India is one of the fastest growing economies and has the best skilled manpower. She assured international investors that the government is continuously working to bring reforms.
- Ms Sitharaman asserted that the government is engaging with everyone on a weekly basis and there is no trust deficit with the corporate sector and investors. She said the government is taking steps to address problems in the stressed sectors.
- She added that in order to boost overall consumption, the Finance Ministry has requested all the building sector banks, together with their partners, non-banking financial companies to reach out to small towns and villages and extend every kind of credit that they would want.
7. CBIC and Customs launches scheme to attract investment and support Make in India programme
- Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has launched a revamped and streamlined programme to attract investments into India and strengthen Make in India through manufacture and other operations under bond scheme, under Customs Act, 1962. Section 65 of the Customs Act, 1962 enables conduct of manufacture and other operations in a customs bonded warehouse.
- The scheme has been modernized with clear and transparent procedures, simplified compliance requirements ICT-based documentation and account keeping, by issue of Manufacture and Other Operations in Warehouse (no. 2) Regulations, 2019 and Circular 34/2019 both dated 01 October 2019. The main features of the scheme are as below –
- A single application cum approval form prescribed for uniformity of practice. The jurisdictional Commissioner of Customs will function as a single point of approval to set up and oversee the operations of such units.
- No geographical limitation on where such units can be set up.
- The unit can import goods (both inputs and capital goods) under a customs duty deferment program. The duties are fully remitted if the processed goods are exported.
- There will be no interest liability and units will benefit through improved liquidity.
- GST compliant goods can be procured from the domestic market for use in manufacture and other operations in a section 65 unit.
- A single digital account has been prescribed for ease of doing business and easy compliance.
- The scheme would also enable efficient capacity utilization, as there is no limit on quantum of clearances that can be exported or cleared to the domestic market.
- CBIC has collaborated with Invest India to launch a dedicated microsite for providing information and promoting the scheme and for facilitation of investors.
- The scheme is expected to play a critical role in promoting investments in India and in enhancing ease of doing business. It can enable the ‘Make in India’ programme, encourage exports, create hubs for electronics assembly, repair & refurbishment operations, inward and outward processing, facilitate global e-commerce hubs etc.
- The 2019 Global Hunger Index report
- The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale,with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst. Values less than 10 reflect low hunger, values from 20 to 34.9 indicate serious hunger; values from 35 to 49.9 are alarming; and values of 50 or more are extremely alarming.
- The report is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide. The GHI scores are based on a formula that captures three dimensions of hunger—insufficient caloric intake, child undernutrition, and child mortality—using four component indicators:
- CHILD WASTING
- CHILD STUNTING
- CHILD MORTALITY
- The report is topped by Central African Republic.
- It is becoming difficult to feed the world due to climate change.
- While there has been progress in reducing hunger, but the gains are now being threatened and severe hunger persists in many regions across the world.
- Multiple countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010, and approximately 45 countries are set to fail to achieve low levels of hunger by 2030.
- Among the 117 countries, 43 have “serious” levels of hunger.The Central African Republic is in the “extremely alarming” level in the hunger index.
- The Global Hunger Index recommends various steps the countries could take to tackle this serious problem: Prioritizing resilience among the most vulnerable groups, better response to disasters, addressing inequalities, action to mitigate climate change are among measures suggested in the report.
- India ranked 102on the index among 117 qualifying countries with a score of 30.3. Even North Korea, Niger, Cameroon fared better than India.
- Neighboring countries too bagged better spots — Sri Lanka (66), Nepal (73), Pakistan (94) and Bangladesh (88).
- India bagged the top spot in child wasting rate in the world with an increase of 4.3 percentage points in nine years.
- Around 90 per cent of children aged between 6 and 23 months in the country don’t even get minimum required food.
- When it comes to stunting in children under five,the country saw a dip, but it’s still high — 37.9 per cent in 2019 from 42 per cent in 2010.
- Despite the Swachh Bharat campaign, open defecation is still practiced in India. It jeopardises the population’s health and severely impacts children’s growth and their ability to absorb nutrients.
- IMF’s 2019 World Economic Outlook (WEO) has been released
- India retains its rank as the world’s fastest-growing major economy,tying with China.
- It has a projected growth rate of 6.1 per cent for the current fiscal year, despite an almost one per cent cut in the forecast.
- However, India’s economy is projected to pick up and grow by 7 per cent in the 2020 fiscal year.
- India’s economy decelerated further in the second quarter, held back by sector-specific weaknesses in the automobile sector and real estate as well as lingering uncertainty about the health of non-bank financial companies.
- “Corporate and environmental regulatory uncertainty” are other factors that weighed on demand.
- The reduction in India’s growth projection for this year “reflects a weaker-than-expected outlook for domestic demand”.
- The world economy is projected to grow only 3 per cent this year and 3.4 per cent next year amid a “synchronised slowdown“.
- China’s economic growth will slow down to 5.8 per cent next year.
- In the Euro area, growth is projected to be only 1.2 percent this year and 1.4 next year, with the German economy expected to grow by a dismal 0.5 per cent this year.
- United States is expected to slightly better with a 2.1 per cent growth projected for this year and 2.4 per cent for the next.
- Reasons for slowdown: rising trade barriers, uncertainty surrounding trade and geopolitics, and structural factors, such as low productivity growth and an aging population in developed countries.
- Qatar plans to end so-called ‘kafala’ system
- The energy-rich nation of Qatar is pledging to fully eliminate a labour system that ties foreign workers to their employer and requires them to have their company’s permission to leave the country. According to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization, said yesterday that Qatar planned to end the so-called ‘kafala’ system there.
- The ILO says workers would be able to freely change employers under draft laws described as being ‘expected to come into force by January 2020. The ILO says Doha is also considering a minimum wage.
- The kafala systemis a system used to monitor migrant laborers, working primarily in the construction and domestic sectors in Gulf Cooperation Council member states and a few neighbouring countries, namely Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also adopted a Kafala system for foreign fighters in its ranks
- The system requires all unskilled laborers to have an in-country sponsor, usually their employer, who is responsible for their visa and legal status. This practice has been criticised by human rightsorganizations for creating easy opportunities for the exploitation of workers, as many employers take away passports and abuse their workers with little chance of legal repercussions.
- According to The Economist, “The migrant workers’ lot is unlikely to improve until the reform of the kafala system, whereby workers are beholden to the employers who sponsored their visas. The system blocks domestic competition for overseas workers in the Gulf countries.”The Economist has also noted the positive economic impacts the Gulf system has had upon foreign workers and their families and home communities.
- About 1.2 million foreign workers in Qatar, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Philippines, make up 94 percent of the labor force. There are nearly five foreign workers for each Qatari citizen, mostly housemaids and low-skilled workers
- Most of the workers labor under near-feudalconditions that Human Rights Watch has likened to “forced labor“. Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, stated “In late 2010 we conducted a risk assessment looking at basic fundamental labor rights. The Gulf region stood out like a red light.
- They were absolutely at the bottom end for rights for workers. They were fundamentally slave states.” An exit visa system prevents workers from leaving the country without the sponsor’s permission.
- Employer consent is required to change jobs, leave the country, get a driver’s license, rent a home or open a checking account. Amnesty International witnessed workers signing false statements that they had received their wages in order to have their passports returned.
- The organization called for an overhaul of the ‘sponsorship’ system. Arab-American businessman Nasser Beydoun described their situation as: “Foreign workers in Qatar are modern-day slaves to their local employers. The local Qatari owns you.” International media attention increased after Qatar was named the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
- The kafala or sponsorship system practised by GCC nations has been stated as the main reason for abuse of the rights of low-income migrant workers.
- Little discussed is the fact that high-income professional expatriate workers are also deeply affected by the abuse of the system by companies. A confounding issue is that many of the companies are based out of western nations from the EU, and the US.
- The most typical form of abuse by these companies is the refusal to release employees once their employment has ended with the company. This lack of release (typically through a No Objection Certificate or NOC) restricts employees from moving to another company in Qatar after employment has ended with the present employer.
- This prohibition executed by the company will keep the typical employee from working in Qatar for two years beyond the time their employment ended. In worse cases, the company holds the employee indefinitely in an effort to extort money from the employee when business opportunities fail. From the highest executives to the lowest secretaries, this policy is damaging and serves as a constant threat over the employee.[
- On 13 December 2016, the Qatari government has introduced a new labour law which it says will bring “tangible benefits” to workers in the country by abolishing the Kafala system. The new regulations, aimed at making it easier for migrant workers to change jobs and leave the country, came into effect beginning on that day.However, Amnesty Internationalcharacterized the reforms as inadequate and continuing to “leave migrant workers at the hands of exploitative bosses”.
11. Sri Lanka’s EC warns political parties not to use war or war-victories for presidential campaign
- Sri Lanka’s National Election Commission has stressed that use of war, war-victory or war crimes for the presidential election campaign is prohibited.
- Chairman of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said at a media briefing yesterday that political parties have been warned not to use the war or military victories or other related activities in the presidential election campaign.
- He also condemned an advertisement published in a newspaper by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa using a statement from the current Army commander Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva.
- The chairman said the army commander should make a clarification on the issue otherwise it can be assumed that the advertisement was placed with Lt. General Silva’s consent and he will be held liable for violating election law. He said his institution had called for an explanation from the Secretary Ministry of Defense and from the President’s office on the matter as well.
12. UAE announces establishment of 1st graduate-level, research-based AI university in world
· UAE announced the establishment of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence( MBZUAI), the first graduate-level, research-based AI university in the world.
· MBZUAI will enable graduate students, businesses and governments to advance the artificial intelligence field.
· The University is named after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who has long advocated for the UAE’s development of human capital through knowledge and scientific thinking to take the nation into the future.
· MBZUAI will introduce a new model of academia and research to the field of AI, providing students and faculty access to some of the world’s most advanced AI systems to unleash its potential for economic and societal development.
· The announcement was made at a press conference at the university campus in Masdar City and was immediately followed by the first meeting of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees.
· Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, who has been appointed Chair of the MBZUAI Board of Trustees, is spearheading the establishment of the University. He said MBZUAI aligns with the vision of the UAE leadership that is based on sustainable development, progress and the overall well-being of humanity and underpinned by capacity-building and active participation in finding practical solutions based on innovation and state-of-the-art technology. As such, the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence is an open invitation from Abu Dhabi to the world to unleash AI’s full potential.
· Emirates News Agency reported that MBZUAI will provide all admitted students with a full scholarship, plus benefits such as a monthly allowance, health insurance, and accommodation. The University will work with leading local and global companies to secure internships, and will also assist students in finding employment opportunities.
· Graduate students can now apply to MBZUAI via the University’s website with registration set to open in August 2020. The first class of graduate students will commence coursework at MBZUAI’s Masdar City campus in September 2020.
13. Maldives calls for better collaboration with Indian business entities to boost trade
· Maldives has called for better collaboration with Indian business entities to explore new avenues to diversify its economy. Speaking at the inauguration of Indian expo in Male, Maldives Minister for economic development Fayyaz Ismail said there is a huge potential in the economies of both the countries, especially in the quest to diversify.
· The Minister said medical tourism and food processing offer numerous possibilities. The minister said the close cooperation between Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led to a very good development between the two countries in the last year. He said both the leaders share a special bond that has been instrumental in creating this atmosphere, besides the cultural and traditional relationship.
· Indian expo mainly focuses on exploring business opportunities between the Maldives and Kerala. It is being attended by several Indian companies in collaboration with FICCI.
14. World Record: Mumbai’s Yashasvi Jaiswal, youngest cricketer to score 200 in One Day cricket
- Mumbai teenager Yashasvi Jaiswal made history as he became the youngest cricketer in the world to score a double century in One Day cricket.
- His is the ninth instance of an Indian scoring a List A double-ton
- Playing in his debut Vijay Hazare season, the 17-year-old scored 203 off 154 balls against Jharkhand at Alur, Karnataka. His score comprised 12 sixes and 17 fours.
- Riding on Jaiswal’s quickfire double hundred, Mumbai posted 358 for 3 in 50 overs and bowled out the opposition for 319.
15. Denmark Badminton Open: Saina crashes out of tournament, Sameer advances to second round
· Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal crashed out of the Denmark badminton Open at Odense today after losing to Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi in women’s singles.
· Sameer Verma, however, crossed the first hurdle in the men’s singles when he beat Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan 21-11, 21-11 to advance to the second round.
· The Indian mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy also made it to the second round with a 21-16, 21-11 win over the German duo of Marvin Seidel and Linda Efler.
· In another mixed doubles first-round match, Satwiksairaj Ranki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa did not take the court and conceded a walk over to the second-seeded Chinese pair of Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping.