Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - October 14, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

RBI monetary policy review: Repo rate unchanged at 4%; stance accommodative

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Context

  • The Reserve Bank of Indian (RBI) decided to keep the benchmark repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent, already at the lowest since 2000, and reverse repo rate at 3.35 per cent.
  • In view of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant stress in the system, the central bank also decided to allow lenders to provide a restructuring facility on some loans that were standard as on March 1, 2020.

Background

  • An expert committee will be set up under K V Kamath to thrash out modalities and look into resolution plans of eligibile borrowers.
  • The decisions were announced after the 24th bimonthly meeting of the RBI's six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), headed by Governor Shaktikanta Das.

Highlights

  • Repo rate is the rate at which the RBI lends to commercial banks, and reverse repo is the rate at which it borrows from them.
  • The RBI had last revised its policy rate on May 22, in an off-policy cycle, to perk up demand by cutting interest rate to a historic low.
  • In its outlook for the rest of the year, the RBI MPC noted that inflation was expected to remain elevated in the second quarter of 2020-21 and ease thereafter in the second half of the year.
  • Among other key measures announced by the RBI, additional special liquidity facility of Rs 5,000 crore each will be provided to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) and the National Housing Bank (NHB).
  • The RBI would also amend priority-sector lending guidelines to remove regional disparity -- a higher weight would be accorded to districts with lower credit flows.
  • The start-up sector has been included as a priiority sector and the cap on credit to the renewable energy sector has been raised.
  • And, to ease some stress on households in the wake up of the coronavirus pandemic, the cap on loans against gold has been enhanced from 75 per cent to 90 per cent of the value.

Source: Business Standard.

Kyrgyzstan’s worst political crisis

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


Context

  • Over the past few days, Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia has seen violent protests.
  • Thousands of participants clashed with police forces in the country’s capital, Bishkek.

Background

  • Often referred to as the only democracy in the region, the country is witnessing one of its worst political crises in decades.
  • Kyrgyzstan president, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, declared a state of emergency in the capital till October 21, giving permission to the military to step in after a fresh set of clashes broke out between supporters of rival politicians.

Highlights

  • Jeenbekov went into hiding after protestors took over government buildings, including the presidential house.
  • Protests erupted after the results of the parliamentary elections were declared earlier this month, with the Opposition and demonstrators alleging that the results were rigged. 
  • Parliamentary elections, which were held in the country on October 4, gave pro-government parties the required numbers to enter Parliament.
  • This meant that the parties allied with the government won nearly all the seats in the 120-seat chamber.
  • In total, 16 parties were contesting the elections.
  • The opposition parties have made allegations that the winning parties indulged in vote-buying.
  • Since the protests started, the elections have been annulled and will be re-held.
  • The protestors took over most of the government apparatus after the elections, halting some foreign gold mining operations that have evoked an expression of concern from Russia, Kyrgyzstan’s ally.
  • On October 6, members of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament unanimously approved Sadyr Japarov as the country’s new prime minister, who was in detention but was freed by protestors.

Source: The Hindu.

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Asian giant hornet 

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

Months after the Asian giant hornet — a vicious predatory insect popularly dubbed the ‘murder hornet’ — was first spotted in the US state of Washington, health officials in Virginia are now warning residents to watch out for another dangerous critter — the highly venomous furry puss caterpillar.

Background

  • This week, the Virginia Department of Forestry sounded an alarm after it received multiple reports of the hairy-looking insect in the eastern part of the state.
  • Several Virginia residents have said that were stung by the dangerous critter in recent days, which is unusual since this type of caterpillar is usually found in southern US states like Texas and Missouri.

About the insects

  • The furry puss caterpillar, named after the far less vicious house cat, is essentially a southern flannel moth in its larva stage.
  • According to experts, after metamorphosis, the insect no longer poses a threat.
  • Closely resembling a wig or toupée, the caterpillar is widely regarded as one of the most poisonous of its kind in the United States.
  • Touching or accidentally brushing against the hairy coat of these insects could cause a painful reaction and trigger symptoms such as fever, muscle cramps or swollen glands.
  • The bristly hair that coats it, hides small and toxic spines that can get lodged in a person’s skin and cause immediate and intensely burning pain.
  • The severity of the sting depends on its location as well as how many spines get embedded in the skin.
  • The caterpillar can also sometimes leave its victim with an itchy rash that appears in a red grid-like pattern.
  • The caterpillars, which subsist solely on oak and elm leaves, are commonly found in parks and near structures in southern states like Texas and Missouri.

Source: Indian Express.

PM Narendra Modi releases autobiography of Dr Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, says ‘his work will inspire generations

Focus: GS1.

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.


Context

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the autobiography of late multiple term Lok Sabha MP Dr Balasaheb Vikhe Patil.
  • The autobiography is titled ‘Deh Vechava Karani’ or dedicating one’s life for a noble cause.

Background

  • Balasaheb’s work for the progress of poor, efforts towards education and success of cooperative in Maharashtra will inspire generations to come.
  • Balasaheb always stressed on how politics can be used for meaningful change of the society and how to resolve issues of the poor. This is what separated him from others.

About Eknathrao alias Balasaheb Vikhe Patil

  • Eknathrao alias Balasaheb Vikhe Patil was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha of India.
  • He represented the Kopargaon and Ahmednagar (South) constituency of Maharashtra and was a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) political party.
  • He later joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was a minister in the NDA.
  • He was a prominent leader of Maharashtra and eldest son of Vithalroa Vikhe Patil, who started Asia's first Co-operative sugar factory at Loni in Maharashtra.
  • He was awarded the prestigious civilian award Padma Bhushan on 31 March 2010 for his outstanding work in the field of Social Work.
  • He was seven time MP, former Union Minister of State (Finance) and Union Cabinet Minister (Heavy Industries), Government of India.

Source: PIB.

Sets of measures announced to generate consumption demand

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled a new demand stimulus package, offering incentives to consumers to spend more ahead of the festive season in an attempt to stir the economy out of stupor.

Background

Sitharaman proposed ₹73,000 crore in public expenditure, including ₹28,000 crore on leave travel concession (LTC) vouchers and encashment by government employees, ₹8,000 crore on pre-paid special festival advances, ₹12,000 crore capital investment by states via 50-year interest-free loans from the Centre, and ₹25,000 crore additional capital spending on infrastructure projects by the Centre in 2020-21.

Highlights

  • Announcing what she termed fiscally prudent proposals to stimulate demand in the economy, the finance minister said that if the private sector offered similar LTC benefits to their employees, that would have an additional impact of ₹28,000 crore.
  • This would take the total demand stimulus package to over ₹1 lakh crore.
  • All benefits are available till March 31, 2021.
  • The demand stimulus package has two focus areas — consumer spending and capital expenditure.
  • In consumer spending, the package has two components — LTC encashment vouchers plus leave encashment, and special festival advances through pre-paid RuPay cards.
  • Central government employees get tax free LTC to any destination of their choice once every four years besides leave encashment of 10 days.
  • As travel is difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has decided to make cash payments for the fares in line with the entitlement of government employees, which is tax-free, she said.
  • The offer is one-time only.
  • The latest offer by the government follows a record 23.9% contraction of the economy in the quarter ended June as the country paid the price for the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing 68-day hard lockdown that closed factory production and business establishments, confined residents indoors and shut public transport.
  • Gross domestic product is likely to contract this fiscal year by 9.5%, the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee forecast last week.

Source: AIR News.

Nechiphu Tunnel

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Context

  • Union defence minister Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone of the Nechiphu Tunnel on the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) road in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The tunnel is located on Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) road.

Highlights

  • It is 450 m long and D-shaped.
  • Another 1.8 km-long tunnel is also being constructed on the BCT road and both will reduce distance to the area bordering China by 10km.
  • It will comprise two lanes of 3.5m width each.
  • It will be constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

Source: PIB.

Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog

Focus: GS3.                                

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.


Context

  • Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA) has started a nationwide campaign to celebrate “Kamdhenu Deepawali Abhiyan” this year on the occasion of Deepawali festival.
  • RKA has been constituted by PM for the conservation, protection and development of cows and their progeny and for giving direction to the cattle development programmes.

Highlights

  • It is a high powered permanent body to formulate policy and to provide direction to the implementation of schemes related to cattle so as to give more emphasis on livelihood generation.
  • Livestock economy sustains nearly 73 million households in rural areas.
  • Even though, the country is the largest producer of milk, the average milk yield in India is only 50% of the world average.
  • The low productivity is largely due to deterioration in genetic stock, poor nutrition and unscientific management.

Source: PIB.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about Tech for tribals:
  • It aims at the holistic development of tribals with a focus on entrepreneurship development, soft skills, IT, and business development through SHGs operating through Van Dhan Kendras (VDVKs).
  • Under this initiative, TRIFED has tied up reputed national institutions such as IIT, Kanpur; Art of Living, Bangalore; TISS, Mumbai; KISS, Bhubaneswar; Vivekananda Kendra, Tamil Nadu and SRIJAN, Rajasthan.
  • It is by the Ministry of Social Justice.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

   A. 1 and 2 only
   B. 2 and 3 only
   C. 1 and 3 only
   D. AOTA

Solution: A

  • TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs in collaboration with Chhattisgarh MFP Federation and IIT, Kanpur will be launching Tech for Tribals initiative on 13th October, 2020.

  1. Who among the following established Pravara Rural Education Society in 1964?

    A. Balasaheb Vikhe Patil
    B. Balasaheb Bhausaheb Thorat
    C. Vilasrao Dagadojirao Deshmukh
    D. Baba Amte

Solution: A

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