• Current Affairs, 21 December 2019

    • December 21, 2019
    • Posted By : upliftlife
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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    1. Prime Minister Addresses the Inaugural session of 100 Years of ASSOCHAM
    2. First Trial Shipment by Sea
    3. Commerce and Industry Minister meets export promotion Councils and Boards
    4. Afghanistan first country to recognize Indian Pharmacopoeia
    5. Gem & Jewellwery sector has Huge Potential; Must reach target of USD 75 BN faster
    6. EChO Network launched to catalyze cross-disciplinary leadership in India
    7. US imposes sanctions on two Iranian Judges
    8. Studying security aspect of Hambantota port deal with China says Sri Lankan President
    9. Explosions hit southern Myanmar town ahead of Aung San Suu Kyi visit
      10 Trump impeachment based on ‘made-up’ grounds, says Russian President
    1. Australia declares state of emergency as heatwave fans bushfires
    2. Sweden beats India 4-0 to win U-17 tournament final
    3. FIFA rankings: India static at 108
    4. Pat Cummins becomes most expensive overseas IPL player
    5. women’s national 10m Air Rifle

     

     

     

    NATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. Prime Minister Addresses the Inaugural session of 100 Years of ASSOCHAM

    • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said that the goal of achieving the 5 Trillion Dollar Economy is achievable.
    • He was participating at the inaugural session of the Hundred Years of ASSOCHAM in New Delhi today.
    • Addressing a gathering of leaders from the Corporate World, Diplomats and others, the Prime Minister said that the idea of making India a 5 Trillion Dollar worth economy is not a sudden one.
    • He said that in the past five years the country had made itself so strong that it not only could set for itself such a target but also make efforts in that direction.
    • “Five years before, the economy was heading for disaster. Our Government not only stopped this but also brought in a discipline in the economy”
    • “We brought in fundamental changes in India’s Economy so that it can run with set rules in a disciplined manner. We have met with the decades old demands of the Industrial Sector and we have built a strong foundation for a 5 Trillion Dollar Economy”
    • He said, “We are building the Indian Economy on two strong pillars of formalisationand modernisation. We are trying to bring in more and more sectors into the horizon of formal economy. Along with this we are linking our economy with latest technology so that we can speed up the process of modernisation”
    • “Now instead of several weeks it merely takes a few hours to register a new company. Automation is helping quick Trading across borders. Better linking of Infrastructure is reducing the turn-around time at Ports and Airports. And these are all examples of a modern economy. “
    • “Today we have a Government that listens to the Industry, understands its needs and which is sensitive to its suggestions.
    • Prime Minister said that the country could make a significant jump in the rankings of Ease of Doing Business due to a sustained effort.
    • “Ease of Doing Business may sound just like four words, but in order to improve its rankings there is a lot of effort that goes into it including changing the policies and rules at the ground level”
    • Prime Minister also emphasised the efforts being made towards a faceless Tax Administration in the country in order to reduce the human interface between the tax payer and the authorities.
    • “In order to bring about transparency, efficiency and accountability in the Tax System, we are moving towards a faceless Tax Administration”, he said.
    • Prime Minister said that the Government has decriminalised several laws in the Corporate Sector in order to reduce the burden and allow the industry to function in a fearless ecosystem.
    • “You know that there were several provisions of the Company Act as per which even small deviations were also dealt as a Criminal Offence. Our Government has now decriminalised many such provisions. And we are trying decriminalise many other provisions.”
    • Prime Minister said that the Corporate Tax at this time in the country is the lowest ever and this would propel a boost in the economic growth.
    • “The Corporate Tax is the lowest at the moment, meaning if there is any Government that is taking the lowest Corporate Tax from the Industry, then it is ours”
    • Prime Minister also spoke about the efforts being made towards bringing about Labour Reforms.
    • He also spoke about the sweeping reforms in the Banking Sector to make it more transparent and profitable.
    • “Owing to the steps taken by the Government today 13 Banks are on the path of profit which 6 banks are out of PCA. We have also hastened the process of unification of the Banks. Today banks are expanding their countrywide networks and are in the direction of achieving Global recognition”
    • He said with this overall all round positivity the economy is propelling towards a 5 Trillion Dollar target. Prime Minister said that the Government would invest 100 Lakh Crore Rupees in the infrastructural sector and another 25 Lakh Crore Rupees in the Rural Sector in order to provide support to achieve the target.

     

    1. First Trial Shipment by Sea

    • Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in its endeavor to promote exports from agriculture produce rich regions of India is today sending the first trial shipment of vegetables by sea route from Varanasi to Dubai. Considering the potential of production of fruits and vegetables in Varanasi Region comprising of 5 districts namely, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and SantRavidas Nagar, APEDA is in the process of setting up Agri export hubs in these 5 districts of the Varanasiregion.
    • The first trial shipment of one container of fresh vegetables was flagged off by Paban Kumar Borthakur, Chairman APEDA and Deepak Agrawal, Commissioner, Varanasi Region in the presence of Kaushal Raj Sharma, District Magistrate, Varanasi 
    • In its efforts for setting up of Agri Export hub, APEDA organized an Export Promotion Programme and Buyer Seller Meet (BSM) for fresh vegetables this year in Varanasi which was attended by 100 farmers of the region and exporters from Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh. The BSM provided a platform to link the FPOs and progressive farmers to prominent exporters. The interaction between exporters and farmers of the region was very helpful in terms of understanding the potential of the region, quality of vegetables and fruits produced, infrastructure required and convincing the farmers in cultivating export oriented variety of crops and discussing the concerns of both the stakeholders. Exporters showed their keen interest in exporting vegetables and fruits of the region provided quality of produce is ensured. The BSM was followed by field visits to production sites.
    • Fresh vegetables and Fruits Exporters Association (VAFA), Mumbai have signed an MoU with four FPOs for sourcing of fresh vegetables and fruits for export to international markets. FPOs have been engaged to ensure supply of quality produce from the region. The initiative of setting up the Agri Export hub in Varanasi is now yielding resultswith the sending of the first trial shipment of vegetables sourced from FPOs in Varanasi region to Dubai by sea route for the first time today.
    • APEDA in association with the State Government of Uttar Pradesh has organized for sending of a trial shipment of one container of fresh vegetables by sea route to Dubai. The container will have the quantity of 14 Mts of fresh vegetables exported by an export house from Mumbai supported by VAFA and sourced from three FPOs ofGhazipur and Varanasi.
    • The produce consolidated from the FPOs have been processed and packed at Concor Cargo facility, Rajatalab, Varanasi which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India in July 2018.
    • To fast-track the activities taken up for the Export Hub at Varanasi, a project office of APEDA is being set up at Varanasi soon for co-ordination and facilitation of all activities. A Committee has also been formed under the chairmanship of Commissioner Varanasi Division, with all the stakeholders. The major task of the Committee will be to supervise and fast-track the development of infrastructure, strengthening backward linkage and supply chain for export of agriculture products to international market.
    • APEDA is an organization under Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India and is responsible for promoting exports of Agriculture and Processed Food Products from India.

     

     

     

    1. Commerce and Industry Minister meets export promotion Councils and Boards

    • Union Minister for Commerce and Industry & Railways, Piyush Goyal met with all Export Promotion Councils (EPCs), Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) and Commodity Boards under the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. In a marathon five-hour meeting held yesterday in New Delhi, Piyush Goyal reviewed and sought inputs from EPCs for the Foreign Trade Policy and get their views on steps that may be taken to boost India’s exports. Pre-budget inputs from EPCs was also taken so that they may be sent to the Finance Ministry.
    • Thirty-seven EPCs, FIEO and three Commodity Boards of the Department of Commerce attended the meeting and took this opportunity to discuss with Commerce and Industry Minister each and every issue that the Councils are facing while exporting merchandise and services and also give their feedback on the various initiatives that are being taken by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to ease lending and credit availability to exporters. The EPCs also gave their views on India’s FTAs/ PTAs with other countries especially ASEAN.
    • The problem of exporters identified as “risky exporters” by CBIC was taken up and Commerce and Industry Minister directed that a nodal officer be appointed in the office of Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and he urged the Councils to send a list of those identified as risky exporters to the nodal officer in DGFT so that this issue may be taken up with the Finance Ministry. Councils were directed to send this list by 31stDecember 2019 to Additional DGFT, Vijay Kumar.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister further suggested that rationalization of EPCs must be taken up in order to avoid duplication of work and suggested that the big exporters may continue to be part of FIEO and smaller Councils may merge with bigger EPCs that deal with products of similar nature.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister urged the EPCs to study the non-tariff barriers (NTB) being faced by them while exporting to other countries so that a study may be done to look at these NTBs and take up this issue by laterally with the countries especially with whom India has FTAs/ PTAs.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister urged exporters to make use of the NIRVIK (Niryat Rin Vikas Yojana) Scheme that will soon be approved by Cabinet so that exporters are able to access easy lending and enhanced loan availability that will cover 90% of the principle interest and will also include both pre and post shipment credit.
    • Director General and CEO of FIEO, Dr Ajay Sahai suggested that the New Foreign Trade Policy should study profile of our exports as well as global imports trends as India is largely exporting textiles, leather, handicraft, carpets, marine and agro products. While these are important for employment their share in global exports is in decline.
    • The top 5 products in global exports, accounting for over 50%, are electrical & electronic products, petroleum goods, machinery, automobile and plastic goods. However, their share in India’s exports is less than 33%. India’s global share in these 5 products, put together, is about 1%. Therefore, the New FTP should facilitate the export of these products suggested Dr. Sahai.
    • The issue of India’s low share in high technology exports was also discussed by FIEO. High technology exports accounts for 6.3% of our exports, whereas the same is 29% for China, 32% for South Korea, 34% for Vietnam, 39% for Singapore. (India USD 20 billion, Malaysia USD 90 billion, Singapore USD 155 billion, South Korea USD 192 billion, China USD 652 billion).
    • The specific issues and problems being faced by certain EPCs like Telecom, Forest Produce and Shellac Export Promotion Council, Sports Goods EPC and CAPEXIL will be taken up with other line Ministries assured the Minister so that these issues and problems may be sorted out as soon as possible.
    • At the end of the meeting, it was decided by the Minister, in concurrence with all EPCs and Boards, that another meeting will be held after the Budget in February 2020 to review the tasks achieved and those still pending, that were discussed in yesterday’s meeting.
    • All EPCs and Commodity Boards express their appreciation for time given by Minister of Commerce and Industry to hear out even the smallest of their problems and the prompt manner in which someone of them were disposed of during the course of the meeting and the assurance given by the Minister to solve the long standing issues of certain EPCs.
    • Commerce Secretary and other senior officers of both Department of Commerce and Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade were present at the meeting.
    1. Afghanistan first country to recognize Indian Pharmacopoeia

    • The Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) has been recognised formally by the National Department of Regulation of Medicines and Health Products of the Ministry of Public Health of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It will also be used based on the requirement as reputable pharmacopoeia in the laboratory of medicines and health products quality. With this, a new beginning has been made and Afghanistan has become the first country to recognize IP pursuant to the efforts of Department of Commerce and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
    • IP is an officially recognized book of standards as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945 thereunder. The IP specifies the standards of drugs manufactured and marketed in India in terms of their identity, purity and strength.
    • The quality, efficacy and safety of the medicines are important from healthcare perspective. In order to ensure the quality of medicinal products, the legal and scientific standards are provided by Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) in the form of Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP). As per, the Second Schedule of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, IP is designated as the official book of standards for drugs imported and/or manufactured for sale, stock or exhibition for sale or distribution in India.
    • The IP Commission’s mission is to promote public and animal health in India by bringing out authoritative and officially accepted standards for quality of drugs including active pharmaceutical ingredients, excipients and dosage forms, used by health professionals, patients and consumers. This is achieved by developing the standards for medicines and supporting their implementation. In addition, IPC also develops IP Reference Substances (IPRS) that act as fingerprint for identification of an article under test and its purity as prescribed in the IP monographs. Standards prescribed in the IP are authoritative in nature and are enforced by the regulatory authorities for quality control of medicines in India.

     

    1. Gem & Jewellwery sector has Huge Potential; Must reach target of USD 75 BN faster

    • The Indian gem and jewellery sector is the global hub of jewellery and contributes to around 7% of the country’s GDP and 15% to India’s total merchandise exports. Appreciating the work being done in the sector Commerce and Industry & Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal urged those in this sector to now achieve the target of USD 75 billion from 40 billion much faster. He was speaking on the occasion of the 46thIndia Gem & Jewellery awards 2019 held in New Delhi on 18 December 2019.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister further stated that the Indian gem and jewellery sector has a huge potential to grow in the trade and in creation of more jobs and he assured that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will extend all help to the sector to achieve its target of USD 75 billion.
    • He urged entrepreneurs in the sector to make full use of the soon to be launched NIRVIK Scheme of ECGC that will ease the lending process and enhance loan availability for exporters. It will also make foreign exchange loans available at much cheaper rates not only for large export houses but also small exporters.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister informed that there are 4 Common Facility Centers being set-up in the country apart from the 4 that are already in use at present and the sector must make full use of them to get jewellery tested and certified.
    • Those in the gem and jewellery sector must also address the issue of unnecessary import of gold, he further urged those associated with the sector to device a scheme that will help the Government of India to unlock this asset that is lying locked up in personal vaults of the citizens which will help to reduce the burden on India’s FOREX reserves added the Minister.
    • Members of this sector may also explore the possibility of creating jewellery parks on the lines of the gold souk in Dubai to attract buyers from the domestic market and also overseas said Piyush Goyal.
    • Out of the 15 diamonds mined in the world 14 are cut and polished in India therefore it is very essential that the diamond sector help in training talent and scale up skilling to get more value for its products added Piyush Goyal. He urged the diamond industry to set up more skilling centres and get more skilled manpower into this sector.
    • Piyush Goyal appreciated the work being done by this sector in the fields of education especially children in tribal areas through the ekal vidyalayas and he urged the sector to now establish awards in categories like units giving highest worker’s benefits like health insurance and education of children and spend more CSR funds on the 5 million employees, and their families, engaged in this sector.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister gave away awards in recognition of the business excellence in the sector that is helping to strengthen Brand India. Awards in various categories of metal jewellery, Cut & Polished Coloured Gemstones, Diamonds, highest taxpayer company, Most Socially Responsible Company, Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, best digital initiative and company with the highest employment on the roll were given away at the hands of the Commerce and Industry Minister.
    • A Lifetime achievement award was also received by Vasant Mehta, at the hands of the Minister of Commerce and Industry, for his role in transforming the Indian diamond manufacturing industry into a global jewellery manufacturing hub that boasts of quality and design oriented jewellery.

     

    1. EChO Network launched to catalyze cross-disciplinary leadership in India

    • EChO Network, a national program to provide a template for cross-disciplinary leadership in India with the specific focus of increasing research, knowledge, and awareness of Indian ecology and the environment was launched yesterday in New Delhi by Prof. K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
    • Speaking at the launch programme, Prof. VijayRaghavan said India has recently embarked on a number of national-level efforts to promote ecological and environmental research on the subcontinent; however, there remains a lacuna of trained scientists with interdisciplinary skills and collaborative mindset. We need to train a new generation of educators and students who can identify and solve problems in an interdisciplinary manner and who can listen to our natural world and tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology and I am convinced this network will inspire an entirely new approach to Indian education and exploration necessary for the post-technological world said Prof. VijayRaghavan.
    • India faces unprecedented threats to its human environmental and ecosystems, solving which requires a confluence of India’s strong technological expertise and knowledge of the natural world itself. EChO Network would develop a national network to catalyse a new generation of Indians who can synthesize interdisciplinary concepts and tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology. With no precedent for such a network anywhere in the world, EChO Network establishes a new platform to change how science is embedded in our modern society.
    • Through interactive sessions with citizens, industry, academia, and the government, the Network will identify gaps in knowledge regarding selected topics in human and environmental ecosystems. The program will then train postdoctoral leaders in research and outreach on these topics, while also incorporating current public and private efforts into a national network. It would then go on to establishing nation-wide awareness in these issues through public discourse and education for citizens, industry, and government with information exchange at all educational levels. Over time EChO Network intends to create an international distributed institute comprising individuals housed within industry, government, private, and academic sectors, combining their expertise and resources collectively to tackle large scale problems.
    • The initiative has drawn in partners from Government, industry and academia, with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India steering the program under the guidance of Prof. Shannon Olsson, Director, EChO Network. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Hindustan Unilever Limited, RoundGlass, India Climate Collaborative, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) are the founding partners of the EChO Network.
    • This is a mission of hope remarked Prof. Olsson at the launch programme. He further said that throughout his career in India, he has met countless individuals working hard to make a positive difference for Indian ecosystems. The purpose of this Network he informed is to bring all those together to share knowledge and synergize efforts under the umbrella of science. In order to do this, we need leaders who are trained to communicate across different sectors of society, this is the goal of the EChO Network said Prof. Olsson.

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. US imposes sanctions on two Iranian Judges 

    • United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on two Iranian Judges. US officials said that Revolutionary Court judge Abdolghassem Salavati had sentenced a recently freed American and also sent more than 100 people to jail for political reasons. 
    • The Treasury Department also targeted another Revolutionary Court judge, Mohammad Moghisseh, who it said has presided over trials of artists and over anti-regime social media postings.
    • The sanctions make any transactions with the two judges a crime in the United States, with any assets they may have blocked. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said that the United States would also restrict visas for Iranian officials over last month’s crackdown on protests, in which Amnesty International says more than 300 people died.

     

    1. Studying security aspect of Hambantota port deal with China says Sri Lankan President

    • Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajpaksa today said they are studying the security aspect of Hambantota port deal with China to ensure that the port control remains with the government.
    • Addressing a press conference for foreign journalists, Gotabaya said such ports are vital strategic centre and only Sri Lankan government should decide which military ships enter its territory.
    • He said even the Chinese side has agreed that security operations should remain with the Sri Lankan government and the issue was discussed with Chinese special envoy who visited him early this month.
    • The President said they are not worried about the commercial aspect but handing over security aspect can create issues with world powers. The Sri Lankan President reiterated his call for investment from countries including India and Japan. He called for investment from Indian high tech companies in the IT sector and to use the potential within India.
    • Gotabaya added that their aviation department will discuss the Mattala airport as a second international airport and currently there are no discussions of Indian involvement.
    • To a query on Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India, he said that the government has been trying to bring them back and refused to comment on citizenship amendment bill saying it is an internal matter of India. 

     

    1. Explosions hit southern Myanmar town ahead of Aung San Suu Kyi visit

    • In Myanmar, three small explosions went off in a southern Rakhine town of Manaung today just before civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi landed there to open a solar power plant.
    • A spokesperson for Rakhine’s regional government said that there were three explosions, but no casualties were reported.
    • He said that no group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

     

    1. Trump impeachment based on ‘made-up’ grounds, says Russian President

     

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin today said the impeachment of Donald Trump was based on ‘made-up’ grounds and he does not believe it marked the end of the US president.
    • Putin’s remark came after the House of Representatives in the US voted to impeach Trump for abuse of power.
    • Putin was speaking at the end-of-year news conference in Moscow. Putin described the events in the US legislature as simply the continuation of an internal political fight between Democrats and Republicans.

     

    1. Australia declares state of emergency as heatwave fans bushfires

    • In Australia’s New South Wales, authorities have declared a seven-day state of emergency as a record heatwave fanned unprecedented bushfires raging across the region.
    • The New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state of emergency is due to catastrophic weather conditions.
    • Authorities predicted more intense heat today and later in the week. 

     

     

     

    SPORTS NEWS

     

     

    1. Sweden beats India 4-0 to win U-17 tournament final

    • In Women’s Football, Sweden wins tri-nation series beating India 4-0 in the final of Under-17 tournament in Mumbai this evening.
    • Sweden scored three goals before half time.
    • Thailand is the third team in the tournament.

     

    1. FIFA rankings: India static at 108

     

    • The Indian men’s football team remained static at 108th spot in the year-ending FIFA rankings issued today.
    • India, however, lost 11 places throughout the year. With 1187 total points, India is placed at 19th spot among Asian countries headed by Japan 28th.

     

    1. Pat Cummins becomes most expensive overseas IPL player

    • Pat Cummins, with a base price of two crore rupees, became the most expensive overseas buy as he was sold to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for a whopping 15.50 crore rupees.
    • Glenn Maxwell was sold to Kings XI Punjab for 10.75 crore rupees while Aaron Finch was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for 4.4 crore rupees in the Indian Premier League auction at Kolkata today.
    • Yusuf Pathan remained unsold while India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara also failed to find any bidders in Kolkata.
    • England captain Eoin Morgan will be playing for KKR in the upcoming IPL season as he was bought by KKR for 5.25 crore rupees. Robin Uthappa, who was released by KKR, has been bought by Rajasthan Royals for 3 crore rupees.

     

    Dale Steyn, Adam Zampa and Colin De Grandhomme failed to attract any bidders at the auction while Piyush Chawla signed for 6.75 crore rupees by Chennai Super Kings.

     

    1. women’s national 10m Air Rifle

    • Himachal’s Zeena Khitta stunned West Bengal’s Mehuli Ghosh and World No.3 Apurvi Chandela to emerge as the new national champion in the Women’s 10 metres Air Rifle event at the ongoing 63rd National Shooting Championship Competitions Rifle/Pistol in Bhopal today.
    • Mehuli had to settle for the silver while Apurvi won the bronze. 

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