This Daily Current Affair Capsule aims to be a time-saving tool for going through relevant news from national dailies and government releases on PIB. Aspirants for UPSC IAS, CDS, SSC CGL, NDA, etc. will find it highly useful to cover for revision and awareness purposes.
National Important Current Affairs – 18 and 19 April 2018
■ April 18 is celebrated as the International Day For Monuments and Sites, also called World Heritage Day to create awareness about heritage among communities. As of 2018, India alone has 36 world heritage sites, which is the sixth largest of any country. The theme for 2018 is: “Heritage for Generations”.
About World Heritage site: A World Heritage site is classified as a natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and a space which requires special protection. These sites are officially recognised by the UN and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, also known as UNESCO. UNESCO believes that the sites classified as World Heritage are important for humanity, and they hold cultural and physical significance.
■ The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018.
These amended Rules lay down that the phasing out of Multilayered Plastic (MLP) is now applicable to MLP, which are “non-recyclable, or non-energy recoverable, or with no alternate use.” The amended Rules also prescribe a central registration system for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner.
■ The government is set to cover 235 districts in the second phase of its POSHAN Abhiyaan which aims to reduce stunting, under-nutrition and anemia among children, women and adolescent girls along with reducing low birth weight in the country. This decision was taken in the first meeting of the National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges under the POSHAN Abhiyaan, chaired by vice chairman of NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar in New Delhi.
■ The government has launched DARPAN-Postal Life Insurance App to help in the collection of the premium for postal life insurance and rural postal life insurance policies at branch post offices anywhere in India, with online updation of the policies.
About the DARPAN project: With a view to achieve total digitisation of postal operations in the country, the post department under Ministry of Communication has launched Digital Advancement of Rural Post office for a new India (DARPAN) Project, which aims at connecting all one lakh 29 thousand Rural Branch Post Offices.
It’s aim is total digitisation of postal operations in the country to enable them to undertake online postal and financial transactions. It is focussed on achieving financial inclusion.
■ The Environment Ministry has come out with details of its Rs 637 crore draft National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which proposes multiple strategies to reduce air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner.
Objectives of NCAP:
- To augment and evolve an effective and a proficient ambient air quality monitoring network across the country to ensure comprehensive and reliable database.
- To have efficient data dissemination and a public outreach mechanism for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution.
- To have a feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
- The environment ministry hopes to bring down air pollution in around 100 non-attainment cities by 50 percent in the next five years under the NCAP.
Non-attainment cities are those considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
Measures proposed include augmenting the air quality monitoring network, identification of alternative technology for real-time monitoring, setting up of 10 city super network, indoor air pollution monitoring and management and air pollution health impact studies. Other measures include air quality forecasting system, issuance of notification on dust management, a three-tier mechanism for review, assessment and inspection for implementation and a national emission inventory.
Note that: A study published in the Lancet in 2017, suggests that 18 lakh Indians are killed each year by foul air alone. More than 80% of cities in the country where air quality is monitored are noted to be severely polluted and it impacts 47 million children across the country. Also, 580 millions number of people in India don’t even have a single air quality monitoring stations in districts they are living.
■ In order to provide an extra layer of privacy to Aadhaar, the UIDAI has introduced an updated ‘QR code’ that holds non-sensitive details like name, address, photo, and date of birth, and can be used for offline user verification without the 12-digit ID number.
UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey has said the QR code is a form of barcode label which contains machine-readable information. The offline QR code will allow everyone to establish their identity through offline verification without giving out the Aadhaar number.
■ In order to address outstanding water resources issues, the 1st Regional Conference of Eastern States on Water Resources was held in Kolkata, West Bengal. It was focused on finding a solution to mitigate the inter and intra-basin issues relating to water resources in states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.
■ The 7th edition of Home Expo India 2018 was organized by EPCH comprising Housewares, Textiles and Furniture under one roof making it a One-Stop Expo for every visitor.
About EPCH: Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) under the aegis of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India is a non-profit organization, established under the EXIM policy of Government of India in the year 1986-87. The objective is to promote, support, protect, maintain and increase the export of handicrafts. The EPCH has a rarest distinction of being considered as MODEL COUNCIL that is self-sustaining and self-financing all promotional activities.
The EPCH also runs the “VRIKSH ” program based on the timber legality assessment for verification of legality and legal origin of wood and wooden products. It is intended for entities who want to accurately track and make claims about the legal origin and transport of their products. The Vriksh shipment certificate, issued exclusively by EPCH is mandatory to go along with all shipments of two Dalbergia’s species (Rosewood and Sheesham) products. The VRIKSH standard conforms to all major compliance requirements including the new CITES notification.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 18 and 19 April 2018
■ Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral discussions with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth in London. The 91 year-old monarch is the Head of the Commonwealth.
India and the UK have signed 10 agreements in several sectors including cyber-relationship, Ganga rejuvenation and skill development. The agreements are listed below:
- Framework agreement for UK-India Cyber Relationship: India and Britain signed a framework agreement for the UK-India Cyber Relationship, aiming for a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace. The agreement also calls for cooperation in exchange of information and strategies for effective cyber security incident management and threat response.
- MoU on exchange of information for combating international criminality: The MoU also seeks to establish a mechanism for the exchange of criminal records, immigration records and intelligence.
- MoU for the rejuvenation of river Ganga: The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), UK signed a MoU for the rejuvenation of river Ganga. Under this MoU, Britain will support the Indian government in sustainable management of water resources in the Ganga basin through collaborative programmes and through exchange of policy experts under the UK Water Partnership.
- MoU on cooperation in field of sustainable urban development: This MoU includes cooperation in business engagement programme and project design, access to finance, knowledge exchange and research and innovation. It also calls for building on existing cooperation on the Smart Cities Mission.
- MoU on skill development: Both the sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on skill development, vocational education and training to promote collaboration and capacity-building.
- Agreement on regulation of safe nuclear energy use: An Agreement was signed between the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India (AERB) and the Office for Nuclear Regulation of Great Britain (ONR) in the area of regulation of safe nuclear energy use for peaceful purposes.
- Statement of Intent signed between India’s NITI Aayog and Britain’s BEIS: India’s NITI Aayog and Britain’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) signed it to explore the possibilities for regular engagement on technology cooperation in areas such as electric vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI), Fintech, and advanced manufacturing. The MoU also calls for utilising Artificial Intelligence, big data and analytics capability for evidence-based policy making.
- India and Britain signed a MoU to enhance cooperation on livestock husbandry, fisheries and agro-forestry.
- An agreement was signed for an addendum covering research in humanities and social sciences to the 2004 Newton-Bhabha MoU, which supports research and innovation capacities of both sides.
- A non-governmental MoU was also signed between the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) and College of Medicine to set up a centre of excellence in Ayurveda and traditional Indian medicine.
At a unique programme, Bharat Ki baat Sab ke saat, PM Modi highlighted India’s priorities on various national as well as International issues where a large number of enthused Indian community interacted with him. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India will not accept terrorism and will give a befitting reply to those who export terror referring to the surgical strikes in Kashmir. On recent incidents of rapes of minor girls in the country, he expressed grief and called it an evil of not just the individual but also of society.
PM Modi also lauded the 12th century Lingayat philosopher Basaveshwara and said he dedicated his life to the people and worked to unite them.
■ The India-Wiesbaden Conference 2018 was held at New Delhi, hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs in cooperation with the Government of Germany and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA).
- Its theme was ‘Securing Global Supply Chains through Government-Industry Partnerships towards Effective Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1540’.
- Representatives from the 39 countries, as well as experts from the UNSC 1540 Committee and UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in New York, participated in the conference.
The conference provides an opportunity to participants to share experiences on their export control systems and to identify legal and technical assistance, action plans and challenges in the national implementation of UNSC 1540.
About Weisbaden process: The Wiesbaden Process was initiated by the Government of Germany in 2012 to strengthen the implementation of UNSC 1540 through Government-Industry partnerships. It has been named after Wiesbaden city, situated on the right bank of Rhine River and capital of state Hesse in central Germany, on the foothills of Taunus Mountains.
About UN Security Council Resolution 1540: The UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) establishes legally binding obligations on all States to adopt and enforce appropriate and effective measures to prevent the proliferation to non-State actors of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their delivery systems. It requires, therefore that States implement appropriate and effective measures to prevent non-state actors such as terrorists, from obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
UNSCR 1540 requires all states to adopt and enforce laws that will ensure implementation of the obligations laid down in the WMD treaties, to prevent proliferation to non-state actors. It does not create very specific legal obligations for those states that are not party to existing WMD treaties, because it only requires them to take ‘measures’ against proliferation of WMDs and their means of delivery.
■ The United Kingdom has formally joined the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA). This announcement was made an event held at the London Stock Exchange as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM). With this, UK has became the 62nd signatory member of the ISA.
The UK’s partnership will involve providing expertise and advice to the alliance, but without any monetary contributions.
About ISA: International Solar Alliance is an inter-governmental treaty-based organisation that aims to mobilise $1 trillion in funds for future solar generation, storage and technology across the world by 2030.
■ Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has invited the Taliban to contest the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections amid international and national attempts to end the over 16-year-long war with the militant group in the war-torn country.
■ NASA has launched its planet-hunting spacecraft, Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a mission to find new worlds beyond our Solar System, including those that could support life. TESS mission will survey a great swathe of stars, hoping to catch the dips in brightness that occur when orbiting planets traverse their faces. TESS’s goal is to compile a catalogue that other telescopes can then focus in on for more detailed analysis.
About Transit Method: The transit method looks for dips in the visible light of stars by tracing repetitive, periodic dips which can reveal a planet or planets orbiting a star. Transit photometry looks at how much light an object puts out at any given time, researchers can determine that planet’s size. Looking at how long it takes a planet to orbit its star, scientists are able to determine the shape of the planet’s orbit and how long it takes the planet to circle its sun. Using the known planet size, orbit and mass, TESS and ground-based follow-up will be able to determine the planets’ compositions. This will reveal whether the planets are rocky (like Earth), gas giants (like Jupiter) or something even more unusual. Additional follow-up with ground- and space-based missions, including NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, will also allow astronomers to study the atmospheres of many of these planets.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 18 and 19 April 2018
■ The World Bank has projected a growth rate of 7.3 percent for India this year and 7.5 percent for 2019 and 2020. The bank also noted that Indian economy has recovered from the effects of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax.
The World Bank in its twice-a-year South Asia Economic Focus report said that growth is expected to accelerate from 6.7 in 2017 to 7.3 per cent in 2018 and to subsequently stabilise supported by a sustained recovery in private investment and private consumption.
■ A new Commonwealth Innovation Index has been launched as part of a new Commonwealth Innovation Hub on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that is being held in London. It is aimed at providing a tool that allows member states, organisations and citizens to benchmark themselves against 53 countries of the Commonwealth, with the new innovation hub offering a dedicated online space for Commonwealth countries to showcase what they have to offer and share with other members. While India is ranked 10th, Bangladesh has been ranked 24th. The index is however topped by the UK, Singapore and Canada.
About the Commonwealth Innovation Index: The index has been created in partnership with the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and its annual Global Innovation Index (GII).
About the Global Innovation Index (GII): It is co-published by World-Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD with CII as a Knowledge Partner since inception. GII has been ranking world economies including India since 2007 according to their innovation capabilities and outcomes using 82 indicators among a host of other important parameters.
■ A new Commonwealth Innovation fund has also been launched on the sidelines of the London Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). It will work as a $200 million venture capital firm that invests in social innovations to improve lives and opportunities in the developing world through the use of grants and risk capital. The CIF will work under the Global Innovation Fund (GIF) and will use GIFs existing due diligence processes for sourcing, evaluating and investing to generate a high-quality portfolio of enterprises that are aligned with the Commonwealth Secretariats priorities.
This new partnership aims to provide financing for incubating and accelerating impact-oriented ideas and innovations within the Commonwealth countries.
About the Global Innovation Fund: The Global Innovation Fund is a non-profit innovation fund headquartered in London with an office in Washington D.C. that invests in the development, rigorous testing, and scaling of innovations targeted at improving the lives of the world’s poorest people. GIF is a unique hybrid investment fund that supports the piloting, rigorous testing, and scaling of innovations targeted at improving the lives of the poorest people in developing countries.
■ In its latest World Economic Outlook (WEO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected India’s expected growth at 7.4% in 2018 and 7.8% in 2019.
The IMF also held that India will again emerge as world’s fastest-growing major economy at least for the next two years (2019 and 2020).
The International Monetary Fund has said, India’s general government debt remains relatively high, at 70 percent of the GDP in 2017, but the authorities are planning to bring it down over the medium term with the right policies. India will continue with the consolidation in the current fiscal year and over the medium term. By targeting their federal deficit of 3 percent over the medium term, and they are targeting also a debt ratio of 40 per cent over the medium term at the federal level, which will correspond to about 60 per cent at the general government level.
■ Veteran journalist and editor S Nihal Singh, who had won the International Editor of the Year Award for his role in opposing the Emergency by former PM Indira Gandhi, passed away at age of 88 years.
Note that: When censorship was imposed during the Emergency period, Singh as The Statesman’s Editor published in his newspaper, “This issue of The Statesman appears under censorship” on the front page. He was awarded the prestigious International Editor of the Year Award for opposing the Emergency imposed by former prime minister Indira Gandhi. His books include “The Rocky Road to Indian Democracy: Nehru to Narasimha Rao”, “The Yogi and the Bear: Story of Indo-Soviet Relations” and “The Gang and 900 million: A China Diary”.
■ Former US First Lady Barbara Bush has passed away at 92 years of age. She is the only woman to witness her husband and son become the President of United States in her lifetime. She was the wife of 41st US President George HW Bush.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 18 and 19 April 2018 “
Q1. Kendrick Lamar has become the first non-classical or jazz artist to win Pulitzer Prize in the music category. He belong to which country?
B) South Africa
C) United States
Q2. Which of the following have won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service?
A) The New York Times and The New Yorker
B) Washington Post and The Financial Express
C) The Financial Express and The Washington Post
D) The Guardian and The New York Times
Q3. Which of the following countries has been elected to crucial United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the Asia Pacific States category?
D) All of the above
Q4. The Government of India (GoI) has launched the FIEO Globallinker for MSME exporters to digitise their businesses. What does “FIEO” stands for?
A) Federation of International Export Organisations
B) Federation of Internal Export Organisations
C) Federation of Integral Export Organisations
D) Federation of Indian Export Organisations
Q5. The 2018 Island Tourism Festival has started in which state / Union Territory of India?
A) Andaman and Nicobar Islands
C) Daman and Diu
Answer these questions in the comments below. We encourage you to discuss your thoughts on the news and issues mentioned in today’s current affairs post. The idea is to promote healthy discussions on interesting issues to make preparation fun. Have a good day!