IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 27 June 2019

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Buddhist relic unearthed in A.P. village

Topic: GS-I:  Indian Heritage and Culture

A Buddhist relic has been unearthed by a group of indologists on the right bank of the Gundlakamma river at Anamanaluru village, near Korisapadu, in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh.

More in news:

  • A group of historians led by E. Sivanagireddy, Buddhist Archaeologist and Chief Executive Officer, the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati (CCVA), examined the 3rd century A.D. relic as part of ‘Preserve Heritage for Posterity’, an awareness campaign launched by the CCVA to bring to limelight artefacts which remained in neglect in different parts of the State.
  • The local limestone pillar measuring 1’-3”x 0’-9’’x8’.0” and 2’.0” feet below the ground level, is carved with half lotus medallions at the centre and top portions on all the four sides in the Amaravati school of Art of the Ikshwaku times.

Accidental find

  • It was an accidental find while uprooting eucalyptus trees in the agricultural field and erected it inside the Veerabhadra temple towards the north of the village.
  • Reddy said there might be a Buddhist monastery of which this pillar might be part of a Shilamandapa where Buddhist teachers offer regular discourses on the Dhamma of the Buddha. The antique Buddhist pillar was found worn out due to weathering and active agricultural operations.

‘Ikshwaku style’

  • Similar pillars carved in the Ikshwaku style were earlier noticed inside the Siva temple at Manikeswaram, another village located on the Gundlakamma river bank, 3 km away from the present spot.

Assam NRC additional draft exclusion list

Topic: GS –II: Governance

Over one lakh people who were part of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in July last year but were found ineligible thereafter — they have been named in the Additional Draft Exclusion List published.

  • In this list, 1, 02,462 persons are included — implying that they are out of the draft NRC. These people were among the 2.89 crore people included in the draft NRC published in July last year.

What is the Assam NRC?

  • The NRC is basically a list of Indian citizens of Assam.
  • NRC prepared in 1951 is being updated to include the names of people or their descendants who appear in the 1951 NRC, in any of the Electoral Rolls, or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to the midnight of March 24, 1971.
  • Those excluded from final draft could appeal for their inclusion in the final NRC through the ‘claims’ round. Under ‘objections’, people could raise objections to the inclusion of a person’s name in the draft NRC.
  • In last year’s draft, published on July 30 last year, 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore applicants were included, leaving out over 40 lakh people. Those excluded were given a chance to appeal in the ‘claims and objections’ round. Nearly 36 lakh people filed their ‘claims’ while ‘objections’ were received against a little over two lakh people among the 2.89 crore people included in the final draft. The date of the publication of the final NRC has been set by the SC as July 31.

54 nations back India for UNSC non-permanent seat

Topic: GS –II: International relations

India has won the unanimous support of all countries in the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations in support of its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term in 2021-22.

  • India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council has been endorsed unanimously by the Asia Pacific group, which comprises 55 countries, including Pakistan.

10 countries, 5 seats

  • The endorsement means that India has a “clean slate” candidature – that is there is no other contestant from the group – for the elections that will be held for five non-permanent members next year, for the 2021-22 term.

How are countries elected?

  • Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members out of a total of 10, for a two-year term.
  • These 10 seats are distributed among the regions thus: five for African and Asian countries; one for Eastern European countries; two for Latin American and Caribbean countries; two for Western European and other countries.
  • Of the five seats for Africa and Asia, three are for Africa and two for Asia; there is an informal understanding between the two groups to reserve one for an Arab country. The Africa and Asia Pacific group takes turns every two years to put up an Arab candidate.
  • Elections for terms beginning in even-numbered years select two African members, and one each within Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Terms beginning in odd-numbered years consist of two Western European and Other members, and one each from Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Asian contests

  • Unlike Africa, which has formalised a system of rotation of its three seats according to the region, the Asia-Pacific grouping often seen contests. Last year, there was a contest between Maldives and Indonesia.
  • Irrespective of whether a country is a “clean slate” candidate and has been endorsed by its group, it needs to secure the votes of two-thirds of the members present and voting at the General Assembly session (a minimum of 129 votes if all 193 member states participate). Formal balloting takes place at elections to all the main UN bodies.
  • When contested, the elections for non-permanent seats can be fraught and can go on for several rounds, In 1975, there was a contest between India and Pakistan, which went to eight rounds. Pakistan won the seat that year. In 1996, India lost a contest to Japan.
  • India has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council seven time previously: 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85, 1991-92 and 2011-12. For the 2011-12 term, India won 187 of 190 votes after Kazakhstan stood down from its candidacy.
  • The 55 countries that comprise the Asia -Pacific group are: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, North Korea, South Korea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Police station in Satara tops SMART police survey

Topic: GS –II: Governance

Rahimatpur police station in Satara has emerged the State topper in a survey based on the ‘SMART’ policing concept announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

More in news:

  • Modi first called for making the police force ‘SMART’ strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsive, techno-savvy and trained — while he was addressing the 49th annual conference of Directors-General and Inspectors-General of Police in Guwahati in 2014.
  • The Quality Council of India (QCI), which executed the survey, assessed 87 shortlisted police stations across the country on a number of parameters like performance in controlling crime, infrastructure of the police building, mess and optimal use of technology, and citizen feedback. The other vital parameters included approachability and discipline of the police personnel, storage of manual records in the police station as well as the station head officer’s declaration of the budgetary process.
  • However, the State’s performance was disappointing as none of its three shortlisted stations failed to make the top 10.
  • Two other police stations besides Rahimatpur, including Akot Rural police station in Akola district and Talwada in Beed district, were included in the rankings, being placed at 59 and 60 respectively.
  • The Kalu police station in Rajasthan’s Bikaner came first rank in the country for having recreational facilities for police personnel, and a helpdesk for women besides being equipped with wi-fi servers.

75 student satellites may fly to space as India turns 75

Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology

Up to 75 tiny satellites built by students of Indian universities could fly to the skies between late next year and 2022 in batches.

More in news:

  • Seventy-five by 75: this is the dream project that the Indian Technology Congress Association (ITCA) has conceived to celebrate the nation’s 75th birthday. That is also to be the year of Gaganyaan, the first trip of Indian astronauts to space.
  • Students of participating institutions would come from different disciplines and get to build nano satellites weighing between 3 and 12 kg. They may demonstrate a novel concept, science experiment, or technology in orbit. Assembling a satellite of their own, creating its ground control system, and operating the spacecraft would be a creative experience and give them an edge in the job market, according to Dr. Reddy.

India lags behind

  • In the last three to five years, other countries launched about 3,500 student satellites that demonstrated innovative technologies; another 2,500 could be in the offing.
  • Indian universities have so far built and launched only nine satellites of fleeting lifespans. They must catch up with their international counterparts.
  • A student satellite, depending on its payload, can cost between ₹30 and ₹50 lakh and ₹5 and ₹6 crore.

Centre extends waiver on Polavaram project

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar gave a two-year extension to the construction work at the Polavaram reservoir in Andhra Pradesh.

Background:

  • In 2011, the UPA government, via the Environment Ministry, issued a ‘stop order’ to Andhra Pradesh to stop construction work on the project. In 2015, the NDA government on coming to power, declared Polavaram a national project and the Ministry kept the “stop work order” in abeyance to allow the construction work. The “Stop Work Order” has been kept in abeyance six times for a year each time.

Vital project

  • The Polavaram project is important for Andhra Pradesh. It will irrigate 3 lakh hectares, produce 960 MW of power and provide drinking water to 540 villages.
  • The government had given it a national project status and is sharing the cost.
  • The project is a controversial one with the Odisha government long having objected to it on the grounds that there is a stay by the Environment Ministry. The key grievance is that the project violates the provisions of the Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal award of 1978. Moreover, it has long held that tribal populations in both Chhattisgarh and Odisha would be affected. These disputes are still being argued in the Supreme Court.

 ‘Jal Shakti’ scheme for water-starved areas

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The Centre is set to initiate the Jal Shakti Abhiyan to ramp up rainwater harvesting and conservation efforts in 255 water-stressed districts from July 1, in line with the government’s promise to focus on water.

More in news:

  • Though water is a State issue, the campaign will be coordinated by 255 central IAS officers of Joint or Additional Secretary-rank, drawn from ministries as varied as Space, Petroleum and Defence.
  • The campaign seems to follow the model of last year’s Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, where central officials monitored the implementation of seven flagship development schemes in 117 aspirational districts across the country.
  • The campaign will run from July 1 to September 15 in States receiving rainfall during the south-west monsoon, while States receiving rainfall in the retreating or north-east monsoon will be covered from October 1 to November 30. Overall, 313 blocks with critical groundwater levels will be covered, along with 1,186 blocks with over-exploited groundwater and 94 blocks with low groundwater availability.

Progress monitored

  • The Jal Shakti Abhiyan would aim to accelerate water harvesting, conservation and borewell recharge activities already being carried out under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme and the Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the Rural Development Ministry, along with existing water body restoration and afforestation schemes being undertaken by the Jal Shakti and Environment Ministries.
  • Progress would be monitored in real time through mobile applications and an online dashboard at indiawater.gov.in
  • A major communications campaign on TV, radio, print, local and social media will be carried out, with celebrities mobilised to generate awareness for the campaign.
  • Teams led by 255 Joint Secretary and Additional Secretary-rank officers and 550 Deputy Secretary-level officers from various central ministries would fan out across the country, making at least three trips of three days each to cover districts and blocks.

Payments data must be saved locally: RBI

Topic: GS -III: Security

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has clarified on Wednesday that payment system providers need to store entire payments data in a system only in India.

More in news:

  • Following clarifications sought by Payment System Operators (PSOs), RBI has released frequently asked questions (FAQ), in which it said data processed abroad would have to be brought back to the country within 24 hours.
  • RBI clarified that the entire payment data shall be stored in systems located only in India.
  • The data should include end-to-end transaction details and information pertaining to payment or settlement transaction that is gathered/transmitted/processed as part of a payment message/instruction.
  • The data could be pertaining to customer data like name, mobile number, Aadhaar number, PAN; Payment-sensitive data like customer and beneficiary account details; payment credentials like OTP, PIN and, transaction data such as originating and destination system information amount, among others.
  • The RBI further clarified that in case the processing is done abroad, the data should be deleted from the systems abroad and brought back to India within one business day or 24 hours from the payment processing, whichever is earlier.
  • The central bank had issued a directive in April 2018 on ‘storage of payment system data’ where it advised that all system providers to ensure that within a period of six months, the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them is stored in a system only in India.

U.S.-China trade war may reduce global growth rate

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

 The ongoing U.S.-China trade war escalation could knock off 0.4 percentage points from world GDP growth by 2020, and possibly lead to the lowest growth since 2009, according to Fitch Ratings.

More in news:

  • Global GDP growth would slow to 2.7% this year and 2.4% next year, compared with latest ‘Global Economic Outlook’ baseline forecasts of 2.8% and 2.7% respectively.
  • China’s growth rate is expected to be reduced by 0.6 percentage points, and U.S. growth by 0.4 percentage points in 2020.

Import tariffs

  • Fitch has assumed a scenario in which the U.S. imposes import tariffs at 25% on $300 billion of goods from China and China retaliates by imposing a 25% tariff on $20 billion of U.S. imports untouched by the trade war so far, and by raising the tariff rate on $100 billion of U.S. imports already subject to new tariffs to 50%.
  • The negative growth effects from lower export demand would be magnified on upstream supplier industries and from lower incomes in the export sector, Fitch added.
  • These effects are expected to spill over to other trading partners not directly targeted by the tariffs. “Global growth would fall even allowing for the monetary policy easing response,” Fitch said. “While falling short of a global recession, this would be the weakest global growth rate since 2009 and slightly worse than 2012, when the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis was at its peak.”

State divide in unemployment

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

  • Nagaland has the highest unemployment rate among the states at 21.4%, and Meghalaya the lowest at 1.5%, figures tabled by the government in Parliament during the current session show.

 

More in news:

  • The Periodic Labour Force Survey for 2017-18, other aspects of which have been reported earlier, shows huge variations among the states. Besides Nagaland, states with high unemployment are Goa and Manipur.
  • Chhattisgarh and Sikkim are among those with the lowest rates. If Union Territories are included in the comparison, Nagaland still tops the list while Dadra and Nagar Haveli replaces Meghalaya with a low of 0.6%.
  • Country-wide, PLFS pegs the unemployment rate at 6.1%, with the rate lower among females than males. Among the states, Nagaland and Meghalaya again take the top and bottom positions in both the female and the male lists.

 

  • Goa and Kerala are high in female unemployment (respectively 26.0% and 23.3%) but their respective male unemployment rates are three times lower (8.1% and 6.2%), giving them overall rates of 13.9% and 11.4%.
  • States showing the opposite trend — female unemployment lower than male unemployment by at least half — include Bihar (2.8% to 7.4%, overall 7.2%), Madhya Pradesh (2.1% to 5.3%, overall 4.5%), Rajasthan (2.3% to 6.0%, overall 5.0%) and Uttar Pradesh (3.1% to 6.9%, overall 6.4%). Union Territories included, Lakshadweep has a 50.5% female unemployment rate, while Andaman & Nicobar has 42.8%.

NEWS IN BRIEF:

All coins must be accepted as legal tender, says RBI

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has appealed to the public to accept all coins as legal tender in wake of rumours resulting in reluctance on the part of some traders, shop-keepers and public to accept coins.
  • Currently, coins of 50 paise, ₹1, ₹2, ₹5 and ₹10 denomination are in circulation.

SEZ Bill cleared amid protests

 The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019, making a trust or any entity notified by the Central government eligible for consideration of grant of permission to set up a unit in special economic zones.

Editorial section:

 Negotiating the forks in the road of diplomacy -The Hindu

Scoring on health-The Hindu

RCEP next steps-The Hindu

Cinema as education-The Hindu

 

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