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 – 20 and 21 April 2018
■ The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has organized a 2-day Civil Services Day function April 20- 21, 2018. The Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu was the Chief Guest at the inaugural function. The Civil Services day is celebrated on 21st April every year.
■ In order to attract foreign students to India, the Union government has launched the ‘Study in India’ programme.
This programme projects 160 premier universities and institutes, including IITs and IIMs, as the ideal destination for higher education. It aims to improve the global ranking of Indian educational institutes. By encouraging more foreign students to choose India as destination for higher education, it aims to double India’s market share of global education exports from less than 1% to 2%.
■ As part of the “Gram Swaraj Abhiyaan” being organised between 14th April to 05th May, undertaken under the name of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”, is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of government, reach out to poor households to enroll them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programmes., the “Swachh Bharat Parva” was recently organized all over the country.
About Gram Swaraj Abhiyan: “Gram Swaraj Abhiyan” is a special endeavour during which saturation of eligible households/persons would be made under seven flagship pro-poor programmes in 21,058 identified villages.
The programmes covered are Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya, Ujala scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Mission Indradhanush.
■ The Department of Posts, has newly created Parcel Directorate for transformation of DoP to act as a catalyst for growing business, and providing efficient and cost-effective service to customers. India Post had undertaken the Parcel Network Optimization Project during November, 2016 to revamp the parcel operations. After the global decline in letter mail, India has also been offset by an increase in packets and parcels. This is primarily on account of the e-commerce boom in the country, with e-tailers requiring integrated collection, aggregation, sorting, transmission and delivery systems.
Note that: The parcel market (logistics and distribution but excluding fulfilment and merchandise value) in the country is growing at a rate of 15% per annum and is expected to reach Rs. 60,000 Crore by the year 2026 from the existing Rs. 18,000 Crore.
■ The Centre has set up a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) chaired by National Security Advisor (NSA) to facilitate “comprehensive” planning for the defence forces besides focusing on military doctrines to deal with emerging security challenges. This committee will help the government overcome coordination problems between various ministries on national security matters.
The DPC will be a permanent body chaired by the National Security Advisor. The committee will comprise of:
- National Security Advisor (NSA).
- Foreign secretary.
- Chairman of chiefs of staff committee.
- The Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs.
- Secretary (expenditure) in the Finance Ministry.
- The chairman of the DPC can co-opt experts into it depending on requirement.
The functions of the Defence Planning committee will be:
- Prepare drafts of national security strategy and doctrines, international defence engagement strategy and roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem.
- Work on a strategy to boost defence exports, and prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces.
- Analyse and evaluate all relevant inputs relating to defence planning and foreign policy imperatives besides focusing on defence acquisition and infrastructure development plans including the 15-year-long integrated perspective plan.
- Work on development of Indian defence industry and technology advancements.
This move is a significant change in India’s defence strategy architecture and comes as the country faces several potential threats in a highly militarised neighbourhood. The country is trying to balance budgetary constraints with its need for arms and is working on increasing its own expertise in manufacturing and exporting defence equipment.
■ Delhi has become the 1st Indian city to approve a policy directing power distribution companies to pay to provide Rs 50 to residents for the second hour of an unscheduled power cut and Rs 100 for every subsequent hour.
The residents will have to register a “no current” complaint with the electricity provider, following which the compensation will be adjusted against the bill amount.
- There are three private power discoms including the BSES companies BYPL and BRPL, and the Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL) that supply power to the city, barring areas under the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Cantonment.
- The compensation earned by the consumers will be adjusted against their monthly power bill.
- In case, the compensation is not paid by the discoms, the consumers can lodge a complaint with the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Authority (DERC).
- The compensation amount in such cases will be Rs 5,000 or five times of the compensation payable, whichever is higher.
■ A group of ministers (GoM) on transport, constituted by the roads ministry has recommended a uniform road tax structure for vehicles across states. The GoM is headed by Yoonus Khan (Rajasthan transport minister). The group was constituted to find a solution to the various problems plaguing the road sector in the country. It was also asked to suggest ways to improve road safety and facilitate ease of transport. Its major recommendations are:
- One national bus and taxi permit: The GoM has recommended one national bus and taxi permit on the lines of permits for goods transporters. Public transport in the country is growing annually at a rate of just about 2%, as against a 20% annual growth in private transport. Therefore, a national permit will give the much-needed fillip to public transport and help reduce road congestion.
- Boost to electric vehicles: The GoM proposed to liberalize the permit system for electric vehicles to promote alternative fuels. It suggested raising the tax on diesel vehicles by 2% while lowering the tax on electric vehicles.
- Uniform road tax: It will end the practice of people registering their vehicles in low-tax states and using them in other states. The move will also bring relief to consumers moving across states. If the states agree to One Nation, One Permit, One Tax then the revenues of the states will increase.
The standardized permit will be an additional boost to the industry that already has seen a big improvement since GST came along and scrapped the state excise policies.
International Current Affairs Capsule – 20 and 21 April 2018
■ During his UK visit, India Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi met Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace (London). Modi also met Prince Charles at an exhibition titled ‘5000 Years of Science and Innovation in India‘. After that Modi participated in an interactive event titled Bharat Ki Baat Sabke Saath at Westminster Central Hall.
The 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM 2018) was held in London, United Kingdom. This is the 1st CHOGM held following United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from European Union (Brexit).
The theme of CHOGM 2018 was : “Towards a Common Future”.
■ Cuba’s National Assembly has appointed First Vice President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez as the country’s new President. Bermudez is set to replace Raúl Castro who has recently retired.
Note that : Bermudez will become the first leader outside the Castro dynasty to lead the country since the 1959 revolution.
■ Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a “wonderful meeting” with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed multiple aspects relating to bilateral cooperation as well as other global issues with her. It was the first meeting between the two leaders since Merkel began her fourth term as German chancellor last month.
Modi met Merkel during a brief stopover in Berlin after wrapping up his visit to the United Kingdom where he attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). It was the third and last leg of Modi’s three-nation tour to the UK, Sweden and Germany.
This visit to Germany demonstrates the commitment by the two countries to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges, according to Indian officials. Modi’s meeting with Merkel comes after German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s trip to India last month, which focused on boosting economic and strategic ties between the two countries.
Note that: Germany is India’s largest trade partner in the European Union bloc. In 2016-17, the bilateral trade turnover was $18.76 billion, with India exporting goods worth $7.18 billion to Germany and importing German products worth $11.58 billion.
■ Five Nordic nations ( Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Finland) have lent their support for India’s bid for permanent membership to the UN Security Council. This has come after PM Narendra Modi and leaders of the five nations attended the 1st India-Nordic Summit held at Stockholm. India and the Nordic nations have also agreed to enhance cooperation on various issues, including global security and economic growth at the summit.
■ Swaziland’s King Mswati III has changed the name of the country to the ‘Kingdom of eSwatini’. Africa’s last absolute monarch, made the announcement at the dual celebration to mark his 50th birthday and the African nation’s 50 years of independence. The new name, eSwatini, means “land of the Swazis”. The monarch said this name change has been done to avoid being confused with Switzerland in the international domain. The impoverished southern African nation — a member of the Commonwealth — gained independence from Britain in 1968.
Note that: President of India Ram Nath Kovind has visited Swaziland earlier this month during his three African nation visit (Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Zambia).
■In a bid to tackle marine pollution, the UK is going to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042 as part of a “national plan of action”.
■ A total of 34 leading global technology firms which includes Facebook, Microsoft, HP, ARM, Cisco, and Oracle have signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord to work together on cybersecurity issues. Under this, the signatory companies have agreed to collaborate on stronger defence systems, no offensive cyberattacks, and protect against tampering of their products, capacity building and collective action. It is a public commitment to protect and empower civilians online and to improve the security, stability and resilience of cyberspace.
Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 20 and 21 April 2018
■ The Pension Fund regulator PFRDA has made bank account details and mobile number mandatory for subscribers of the National pension scheme (NPS). In compliance with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) guidelines, the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has also made Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Central Registry of Securitization Asset Reconstruction and Security Interest (CERSAI) mandatory for new and existing subscribers.
PFRDA has made these requirements mandatory in the new common subscriber registration form (CSRF) that are required to be filled in by the new subscribers. The existing subscribers have been provided the facility to submit online FATCA Self-Certification in their login.
■ Microsoft will soon launch a new operating system – Azure Sphere. With this, for the first time, Microsoft is launching a product based on former rival technology Linux kernel. Microsoft claimed that this product will help to improve the security of internet-connected devices.
Sports Current Affairs – 20 and 21 April 2018
■ The Law Commission of India (LCI) has recommended declaring the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as a public body. It has also recommended BCCI and its all member cricket associations are to be brought under Right to Information (RTI) law regime for bringing transparency and accountability.
■ Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar has passed awayat age of 94 years. Sachar was a prominent activist for human rights and had formulated the report on the social, economic and educational condition of Muslims in India, which is widely known as the Sachar Committee report. The report was commissioned by the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government in 2005.
- The seven-member committee gave recommendations on how to remove obstacles obstructing people from the minority community to participate in the economic, social and political development.
- The report also highlighted a range of disabilities faced by the Muslim community in India and made a slew of recommendations to address the situation.
- It also placed Indian Muslims below Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in backwardness.
- Sachar was one of the prominent supporters of the demand for reservation to women in parliament.
- He had stated on several occasions that reservations for women in parliament could help eliminate gender bias in legal cases.
“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 20 and 21 April 2018 “
Q1. What is India’s position in the world in terms of economy, as per IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO) for April 2018?
Q2. Which bank has allowed depositors to withdraw cash from its Point of Sale (PoS) devices?
A) Punjab National Bank
B) Bank of India
C) State Bank of India
D) Bank of Baroda
Q3. Which country hosted the 2018 Global Malaria Summit which featured collective commitments worth over $4.1 billion dollars from governments, private sector, philanthropists and international organisations?
B) South Africa
D) the United Kingdom
Q4. Who represented India in the first meeting of the BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors?
A) Ajit Doval
B) Sushma Swaraj
C) Subhash Chandra Garg
D) Arvind Subramanian
Q5. What is the India’s rank in the latest Commonwealth Innovation Index (CII- 2018)?
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!