Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - October 17, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

On FAO’s 75th anniversary, PM Modi releases commemorative coin of Rs 75

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

  • To mark the 75th anniversary of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a commemorative coin of Rs 75 denomination, as a testament to India’s long-standing relationship with the global body.
  • The Prime Minister also dedicated to the nation 17 recently developed bio fortified varieties of eight crops.

Background

  • The Prime Minister talked about India’s commitment to ensuring the Food Security Act translated into practice during the corona virus pandemic, emphasising on the importance of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and government purchase for ensuring food security.
  • “Once farmers of India become strong and their incomes increase, the mission against malnutrition will also garner strength,” added the Prime Minister.

About FAO

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.
  • Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates to "let there be bread".
  • It was founded in 1945.
  • The FAO is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
  • Composed of 197 member states, the FAO is governed by a biennial conference representing each member country and the European Union, which elects a 49-member executive council.
  • FAO and the World Health Organization created the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1961 to develop food standards, guidelines and texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/ WHO Food Standards Programme.

Source: Hindustan Times.

Cabinet approves demerger, strategic sale of Nagarnar steel plant from NMDC

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the demerger of Nagarnar Steel Plant from state-owned mineral producer NMDC.
  • The Cabinet also approved the strategic disinvestment of the demerged company by selling the entire stare of Government of India in it to a strategic buyer.

Background

  • This is the second time that the Cabinet has given a nod for the strategic sale of the NMDC Iron & Steel Plant (NISP) Nagarnar, Bastar District, Chhattisgarh.
  • With the latest approval, the CCEA has amended its earlier decision taken on October 27, 2016, to disinvest Nagarnar Steel Plant (NSP) as a unit of NMDC.

Highlights

  • The Nagarnar steel plant is 90 per cent complete.
  • It is expected to be commissioned by March 2021.
  • The next step will be to carve it out of NMDC Ltd by April 2021.
  • The strategic disinvestment will be completed by September 2021.
  • The total expenditure in setting up the Nagarnar Steel Plant was ₹23,140 crore.
  • It is a profitable venture, so this will be the minimum floor price for strategic sale.
  • The interests of minority stakeholders will also be protected.
  • The project has faced significant delays, and the cost overrun is already said to have touched 50 per cent.
  • An official statement said that the Nagarnar Steel Plant (NSP) will be a three million tonne per annum (mta) integrated steel plant.
  • NMDC has invested ₹17,186 crore in the project, out of which ₹16,662 crore is from NMDC’s own funds and ₹524 crore has been raised from the bond market.

Source: The Hindu.

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Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Context

  • Union Health Ministry has launched the second phase of “Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna” for underprivileged Thalassemic patients.
  • This scheme was launched in 2017 under the Coal India CSR funded Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) program.

About the yojana

  • It aims to provide a one-time cure opportunity for Haemoglobinopathies like Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease for patients who have a matched family donor.
  • The initiative was targeted to provide financial assistance to a total of 200 patients by providing a package cost not exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs per HSCT.

About Thalassemia

  • Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder characterized by less oxygen-carrying protein (haemoglobin) and fewer red blood cells in the body than normal.
  • When there isn’t enough haemoglobin, the body’s red blood cells don’t function properly and they last shorter periods of time, so there are fewer healthy red blood cells travelling in the bloodstream.
  • Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, paleness and slow growth.
  • Mild forms may not need treatment.
  • Severe forms may require blood transfusions or a donor stem-cell transplant.

Source: PIB.

‘STARS’ project

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Context

  • The Union Cabinet has approved implementation of theWorld Bank aided- Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project with a total project cost of Rs. 5,718 crore with the financial support of World Bank amounting to about Rs. 3,700 crore.
  • The STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education (MoE).

About the project

  • These are aligned with the objectives of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020of Quality Based Learning Outcomes.
  • Strengthening the government-managed school education system that primarily caters to the educational needs of girls and students from marginalised groups.
  • Focus on initiatives of PM e-Vidya, Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission and National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

Highlights

  • India’s participation in the 2022 cycle of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)survey will also be funded by this project.
  • PISA was introduced in 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • It tests the learning levels of 15-year-old children in reading, mathematics, and science.
  • The test is conducted every three years.
  • India stayed away from PISA in 2012 and 2015 on account of its dismal performance in 2009, when it was placed 72nd among the 74 participating countries.
  • The government decided to end the boycott in 2019.

Source: The Hindu.

Import of air conditioners with refrigerants banned

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • The government banned imports of air conditioners with refrigerants with a view to promote domestic manufacturing and cut imports of non essential items.
  • The government is taking steps to promote domestic manufacturing and reduce import bill of non-essential goods.

Background

  • This adds to a list of recent import restrictions as the government is intent to reduce import bill of non-essential goods and promote domestic manufacturing under the Atmanirbhar India policy.
  • In June, the government imposed curbs on imports of certain new pneumatic tyres used in motor cars, buses, lorries and motorcycles. 

Highlights

  • Before that prohibitions were placed on imports of items ranging from televisions to select defence equipment.
  • China and Thailand are the top exporters of airconditioners to India, as per government data.
  • Together the two contribute over 90 percent of India’s imports of the good.

Source: LiveMint.

UP govt decides to set up women help desk in every police station of state

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Context

  • In a major decision related to women security in the state, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered to establish women help desks in each and every police station of state.
  • The Chief Minister gave the instruction in a meeting with senior government officials and asked them to prioritize and ensure the women's security in the state.

Background

Referring to the Mission Shakti to be launched for the women's safety and security on tomorrow, the first day of the Navratri, the chief minister dedicated the upcoming Navratri days to women's and empowerment.

Highlights

  • The official press release says that  generally women hesitate in registering their complaints with male cops in police station.
  • Keeping this in mind, Women police personnel will be given the charge of these women help desks so that every woman in state can register her complain freely and fearlessly.
  • Government has directed to implement this order with immediate effect.
  • The women police personnel personnel police personnel deputed on helpdesk will not only listen to the complaints of women but will always be ready to help them anytime.
  • Government had earlier established pink booths at various intersections of Lucknow.
  • Women Cops are also deployed at major Crossings in various big cities including state capital Lucknow.
  • It has also made arrangements to drop working women to their homes at odd hours.

Source: AIR News.

Pakistan, China, Russia Win Seats On UN Rights Body; US Upset

Focus: GS2.                                

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Context

  • Pakistan along with China, Russia and Cuba won seats on the UN Human Rights Council despite strong opposition from activist groups over their abysmal human rights records.
  • In a secret-ballot voting in the 193-member UN General Assembly, Pakistan secured 169 votes, Uzbekistan received 164, Nepal 150 and China 139.
  • Saudi Arabia lost the race with just 90 votes.

Background

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the UN body for electing China, Russia and Cuba to the agency tasked with defending human rights.
  • "The election of China, Russia, and Cuba to the UN Human Rights Council validates the US decision to withdraw from the Council in 2018 and use other venues to protect and promote universal human rights.? At #UNGA this year, we did just that," Mr Pompeo tweeted.

Highlights

  • Pakistan is currently serving on the HRC since January 1, 2018.
  • With its re-election, the country will continue as a member for another three-year term commencing on January 1, 2021.
  • Under the Human Rights Council's rules, seats are allocated to regions to ensure geographical representation.
  • Except for the Asia-Pacific contest, the election of 15 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council was all but decided in advance because all the other regional groups had uncontested slates.
  • To be elected, a country needed to obtain the required majority of 97 votes.
  • Since the HRC's establishment in 2006, this is the fifth time that Pakistan has been elected to the United Nations' human rights agency.

Source: NDTV.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about Bhanu Athaiya:
  • Bhanu Athaiya (1929 – 2020) was an Indian costume designer who worked on over 100 films.
  • She became the first Indian to win an Academy Award.
  • In 2012, Athaiya returned her Oscar to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for safe keeping.

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: D

  1. UNHRC has its headquarters in:
   A. London
   B. Geneva
   C. Cairo
   D. Paris

Solution: B

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