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Daily Current Affairs : 4-Nov-19

Major Topics Covered :

  1. SCOJtEx-2019

  2. 5TH INDIA INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE FESTIVAL

  3. NATIONAL WATERWAY-2

  4. TAWANG FESTIVAL

  5. PM VISITS THAILAND

  6. PRIME MINISTER MEETING WITH PRESIDENT OF INDONESIA

  7. PRIME MINISTER MEETING WITH STATE COUNSELLOR OF MYANMAR

  8. 16TH INDIA-ASEAN SUMMIT

  9. RCEP MEET

  10. PACT FOR COOPERATION BETWEEN INDIAN THAI PORTS (RANONG PORT)

  11. GLYPHOSATE

  12. RISING NPAS:BANKS EXPOSURE TO UNRATED LOANS INCREASED THREEFOLD IN 3 YEARS

  13. HOW LONG IS A DAY ON EACH PLANET?

SCOJtEx-2019

Part of GS- 3 Environment, Disaster Management


Why in news?

Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah will inaugurate the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Joint Exercise on Urban Earthquake Search & Rescue (SCOJtEx-2019) on 04th November, 2019 at Dr Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi.


Highlights:


On the initiative of Government of India, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is hosting SCOJtEx-2019.


It is being organized with the aim to provide an opportunity to enhance the coordination & co-operation involving multi-agency operations in an earthquake scenario.


The four-day long simulation exercise shall be held from 4-7 November, 2019 at Delhi.

The participants of all 08 member countries namely China, India, Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan shall be participating in this exercise.


The four-day long simulation exercise shall be conducted as per the International Search & Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) methodology & guidelines.



Source: PIB


5TH INDIA INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE FESTIVAL

Part of GS- 1 A&C, GS- 3 S&T


Why in news?

The 5th edition of India International Science Festival (IISF) 2019 will be held at Kolkata from 5th to 8th November, 2019. The Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan announced this at a curtain raiser Press Conference in New Delhi.


Highlights:


IISF 2019 expects to host a gathering of approximately 12,000 participants from India and abroad. Biswa Bangla Convention Centre and Science City in Kolkata would be the prime sites for the events at IISF 2019


Multitude of significant events are lined up for IISF 2019, which will host more than 28 different events during this period.


For school students, a Students Science Village will be a major highlight. More than 2500 school students from all over the nation have been invited.


The Students Science Village programme is linked with Pradhan Mantri Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, where in every Member of Parliament has been asked to nominate five students each along with their teacher from their constituency for the village.


The Young Scientists’ Conference is another major event, where in around 1500 young scientists and researchers are expected to interact with various subject matter experts of international repute.


An exhibition of India’s Scientific & Technological prowess would also be in display through several expos, the most prominent being the Science Expo at Science City.


New-age Technology show and an expo for the Divyangjan would be another highlight. This year’s IISF will also witness Vigyanika,the Science Literature Festival where several programs related to the various genre will been organised.


It is noteworthy to point that for the first time, there will be a two-day Science and Technology media conclave, which shall be organised at the Bose Institute’s new campus in Salt Lake area.


The International Science Film Festival of India (ISFFI) will be another highlight of the festival and will promote in recognizing the efforts of filmmakers and motivate them to develop scientific and innovative content.


The special role of Women Scientists and Entrepreneurs in shaping the scientific growth trajectory will be another highlight of this Festival.


The North-East Science Students’ Meet will bring hundreds of innovative, dedicated and award-winning students on a single platform to share their experiences and put forth new dimensions of science.



Source: PIB


NATIONAL WATERWAY-2

Part of GS- 1 Geography


Why in news?

In line with Government’s focus on improving connectivity to the North Eastern Region (NER), a landmark container cargo consignment will sail on inland waterways from Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) to the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) terminal at Pandu in Guwahati on 4 November, 2019.


Background:


Taking ahead the Government’s vision of promoting IWT, the first consignment of containerized cargo on National Waterway-1 (Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system) was received by the Prime Minister on 12 November 2018 when he dedicated to the nation, the Multi Modal Terminal at Varanasi.


IWT on NW-1 has witnessed healthy growth with the augmentation of navigation capacity of Ganga under Jal Marg Vikas Project.


The traffic on NW-1 has grown from 5.48 million tonne in 2017-18 to 6.79 million tonnes in 2018-19. Out of the total traffic of 6.79 million tonne on NW-1, approximately 3.15 million tonnes are the EXIM trade between India and Bangladesh using the Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes.


Highlights:


National Waterway 2 (NW-2) is a section of the Brahmaputra River having a length of 891 km between the Bangladesh border near Dhubri and Sadiya in Assam.


First container cargo to Assam via Indo-Bangla water routeKolkata, Nov 3 (PTI) The first ever container is ed cargo movement via Indo-Bangladesh protocol route and Brahmaputra river will start from West Bengal's Haldia on 4th November 2019, an official said.


The vessel will reach IWAI’s Pandu terminal after 12-15 days, sailing through national waterway 1 (Ganga), national waterway 97 (Sunderban), Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route and finally national waterway-2 (Brahmaputra), travelling a distance of 1,425 KM.


The Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) between India and Bangladesh has opened up the vista of giving fillip to the movement of goods through waterways to Northeast as an alternative mode of transport for the otherwise landlocked region which is linked to the rest of the country through the 22 KM wide “chicken neck” in Siliguri.


The India-Bangladesh Protocol route extends from Kolkata on NW-1 to Silghat (Assam) on NW-2 and Karimganj (Assam) on NW-16 (river Barak).Two stretches of Bangladesh inland waterways--- Sirajganj–Daikhawa and Ashuganj-Zakiganj on the India-Bangladesh Protocol route are being developed at a total cost of Rs 305.84 Crore on the 80:20 cost sharing basis (80% being borne by India and 20% by Bangladesh).

Once these two stretches are developed it will allow seamless navigation to and from Northeast through waterways via the India-Bangladesh Protocol route.



Source: PIB


TAWANG FESTIVAL

Why in news?

As Arunachal Pradesh pursues a series of infrastructure projects to boost connectivity, the state government is also showcasing its culture and diverse traditions through events such as the Tawang Festival from 28th to 31st October.


Highlights:

In Arunachal Pradesh, 26 tribes and more than 100 sub-tribes and each one is different from the other in their language, cuisine and architecture of the house.


The just-concluded Tawang Festival in Arunachal, which is fast becoming a major tourist attraction, saw a footfall of 40,000.


The annual festival, which celebrates Arunachal’s rich cultural heritage, includes Buddhist religious functions, traditional dances, indigenous sports, films and documentaries, food festivals and more.



Source: Indian express


PM VISITS THAILAND

Part of GS- 2 IR


Why in news?

Prime Minister Modi met Prime Minister of Thailand Gen(ret.) Prayut Chan-o-Cha on 3rd November 2019 on the sidelines of 35th ASEAN Summit, 14th East Asia Summit(EAS) and 16th India-ASEAN Summit.


Summary:

During the meeting both leaders reviewed the progress made in bilateral relationship and noted that frequent high level meetings and exchanges at all levels have created positive momentum in the relationship.


Noting the enhanced engagement in defence and security fields, both sides agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in defence industries sector.


Welcoming 20% growth in bilateral trade last year, leaders decided to task the trade officials to discuss ways and means to enhance trade and investment.


The Prime Ministers also discussed ways to enhance connectivity between the two countries including in the areas of physical and digital connectivity.


Both leaders welcomed the growing air connectivity between the two countries and start of a direct flight between Bangkok and Guwahati and also finalisation of agreements for cooperation between Ranong Port, Thailand and Indian ports in Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam.


The leaders also exchanged views on regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.


PM Modi thanked Thai PM for the invitation extended to him to attend the ASEAN related meetings, and also congratulated him on his leadership as Chair of ASEAN. He positively assessed the contribution of Thailand as the Country Coordinator for India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for further strengthening this relationship.


India and Thailand are close maritime neighbours having historical and cultural linkages. In the contemporary context, India’s ‘Act East’ policy is complimented by Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy which has made the relationship deep, robust and multifaceted.



Source: PIB, TH


PRIME MINISTER MEETING WITH PRESIDENT OF INDONESIA

Part of GS- 2 IR


Why in news:

Prime Minister Modi met the President of Republic of Indonesia H.E. Joko Widodo in Bangkok on 3 November 2019 on the sidelines of ASEAN/EAS related meetings.


Summary:


PM Modi congratulated President Widodo on the start of his second term as the President of Indonesia and conveyed that as the world’s two largest democratic and plural societies, India is committed to work with Indonesia to strengthen ties in the areas of defence, security, connectivity, trade and investment and people-to-people exchanges.


Noting that India and Indonesia are close maritime neighbours, both leaders reiterated their commitment to work together for peace, security and prosperity in order to achieve their shared vision on maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.


The two leaders discussed the threat of extremism and terrorism and agreed to work closely bilaterally and globally to tackle this menace.


Prime Minister Modi had a forward looking discussion on enhancing bilateral trade and highlighted the need for greater market access for Indian commodities including, pharmaceutical, automotive and agricultural products.


While noting that Indian companies have made substantial investment in Indonesia, PM Modi invited Indonesian companies to use the opportunities presented in India for investment.


Prime Minister Modi invited President Widodo to visit India at a mutually convenient time next year.


India attaches high priority to its bilateral relationship with Indonesia, with which we share a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.


This year, India and Indonesia are also commemorating the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations.



Source: PIB, TH


PRIME MINISTER MEETING WITH STATE COUNSELLOR OF MYANMAR

Part of GS- 2 IR


Why in news:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar on the margins of the ASEAN-India Summit on November 03, 2019.


Summary:

Recalling his last visit to Myanmar in September 2017, and the visit of the State Counsellor to India during the ASEAN-India commemorative Summit in January 2018, the leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress of the vital partnership between the two countries.


Prime Minister emphasized the priority India attaches to Myanmar as a partner at the crossroads of India's Look East Policy and the Neighbourhood First policies.


Infrastructure: Towards this end, he emphasized India's continuing commitment to improve physical connectivity to and through Myanmar to Southeast Asia, including through building road, port and other infrastructure.


Enhance Defence Sector: India would also continue to strongly support the expansion of capacity for Myanmar's police, military and civil servants, as well as its students and citizens.


Connectivity: The leaders agreed that people to people connectivity would help expand the base of the partnership, and therefore welcomed the expansion of air connectivity between the two countries, and the growing interest of India's businesses in Myanmar, including the plans of the Government of India to host a business event for the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) in Yangon at the end of November 2019.


Developmental Progress: State Counsellor Daw Suu Kyi reaffirmed the importance her Government attached to the partnership with India, and her appreciation of India's consistent and sustained support for the widening of democracy and deepening of development in Myanmar.


Border Security: The two Leaders agreed that a stable and peaceful border was an important anchor for the continued expansion of our partnership.


Prime Minister emphasized the value India attaches to Myanmar's cooperation in ensuring that insurgent groups do not find space to operate across the India-Myanmar border.


Socio-economic projects: With regard to the situation in Rakhine, following the completion of the first Indian project to build 250 prefabricated houses- which were handed over to the Myanmar Government this July- PM expressed India's readiness to carry out more socio-economic projects in this State.


PM emphasized that the speedy, safe and sustainable return from Bangladesh of displaced people to their homes in Rakhine State was in the interests of the region, the displaced persons, and all three neighbouring States: India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.


The two Leaders agreed to maintain the tempo of high level interactions in the year ahead, recognizing that strong ties across all pillars of cooperation were in the fundamental interests of both countries.



Source: PIB, TH


16TH INDIA-ASEAN SUMMIT

Part of GS- 2


Why in news:

Minister Shri Narendra Modi attended the 16th ASEAN-India Summit in Bangkok, Thailand on 3 nov 2019.


Summary:

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister expressed happiness in being part of the 16th India - ASEAN Summit.


He thanked Thailand for the warm hospitality and extended best wishes to Vietnam for taking over as Chairman of next year’s Summit.


Act East Policy: Prime Minister said that India’s Act East Policy is a significant cornerstone of the Indo-Pacific strategy; adding that ASEAN is at the core of Act East Policy. A strong ASEAN will immensely benefit India.


Connectivity: Prime Minister highlighted steps being taken to improve surface, maritime, air and digital connectivity. One billion dollar Indian line of credit will prove beneficial for improving physical and digital connectivity, he said.


Prime Minister highlighted that last year’s Commemorative Summit and Singapore Informal Summit’s Decisions implementation has brought India and ASEAN closer.


Cooperation to improve partnership: India is willing to increase cooperation and partnership in areas mutually beneficial to India and ASEAN and expressed readiness to improve partnership and capacity building in the areas of agriculture, research, engineering, science and ICT.


Maritime security: Prime Minister said that India wants to strengthen cooperation in the areas of maritime security and blue economy.


Economic partnership: He also welcomed the recent decision to review India ASEAN FTA saying it will improve economic partnership between the two countries.



Source: PIB, TH


RCEP MEET

Part of GS- 2 IR


Why in news:

India, which held marathon talks in Bangkok over the weekend, has set the stage for intense last-minute negotiations to protect its interests when Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets leaders from 15 other countries on Monday to stitch together the world’s largest trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).


Modi will review if the shape of the trade deal as it stands on 3- nov- 2019 adequately addresses India’s concerns before making any announcement on joining the deal with countries accounting for a third of global economic output and half of the world’s population


Summary:


Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the East Asia and RCEP summits in Bangkok 3- nov- 2019. Besides he will also hold meetings with Japan Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, Vietnam PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Australian PM Scott Morrison in Bangkok, before he returns to Delhi tonight.


Prime Minister would be steering India’s negotiations at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or the RCEP.


RCEP is a comprehensive free trade agreement being negotiated between the 10 ASEAN Member States and ASEAN's free trade agreement partners Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to dispel the notion that India is as reluctant to join the RCEP trade deal.


In a detailed interview to Bangkok Post Modi said, India remains committed to a comprehensive and balanced outcome from the ongoing RCEP negotiations but India would like a win-win outcome.


He added that addressing India's concerns over unsustainable trade deficits is important.


Prime Minister expressed that a mutually beneficial RCEP, in which all sides gain reasonably, is in interests of India and of all partners in the negotiation.


RCEP negotiations which began in Cambodia in 2012 covers areas, including trade in goods and services, investment, market access, economic cooperation, intellectual property and e-commerce.



Source: PIB, The Hindu, Live mint


PACT FOR COOPERATION BETWEEN INDIAN THAI PORTS (RANONG PORT)

Part of GS- 2 IR


Why in news:


In an important move, India moved closer to accessing a strategic gateway to South East Asia as it finalised a pact for cooperation between the Ranong port in Thailand and Indian ports in Kolkata, Chennai and Visakhapatnam.


This was one of the key takeaways of the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Thailand’s PM General (retd) Prayut Chan-o-Cha.


Summary:


According to officials, the Port of Authority of Thailand (PAT) is pressing ahead with the development of Ranong Port as a logistics gateway between Thailand and India as both countries have agreed to promote a new maritime route.


With this, sea travel time between India and Thailand will be reduced from 10 to 15 days to seven. Currently, cargo ships from Krishnapatnam Port travel to Laem Chabang Port in Chon Buri and Bangkok Port in Bangkok via Malaysia.


Due to developing this maritime route, Ranong port has the potential to become the main access point for Indian goods.


Addressing the business leaders in Bangkok, In the spirit of our Act East Policy, we are paying special attention to enhance connectivity with this region. Direct connectivity between ports on Thailand’s west coast and ports on India’s east coast, such as Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata, will enhance our economic partnership. We must take advantage of all these favourable factors. We must take advantage of our geographical proximity like our forefathers did.


The two leaders also welcomed the growing air connectivity between the two countries and start of a direct flight between Bangkok and Guwahati. They also discussed ways to enhance digital connectivity.


In the contemporary context, India’s ‘Act East’ policy is complimented by Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy which has made the relationship deep, robust and multifaceted.


Source: PIB, Th

GLYPHOSATE

Part of GS- 3 S&T,GS- 4Case Studies


Why in news:

German pharma company Bayer is facing thousands of lawsuits over one of its products. A Reuters report said 42,700 plaintiffs in the US are blaming Bayer’s herbicides for their cancer, up from 18,400 plaintiffs in July this year.


Summary: (Case Study)


US Case:

In August, a jury in California said that Monsanto (the company which Bayer acquired in 2018), should have warned of the alleged cancer risks. Reuters quoted Bayer as claiming, however, that it has strong support from US farmers who want the company to keep the product.


What are these herbicides:

The herbicides are based on a compound called glyphosate.


First developed in 1970, glyphosate is scientifically N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine under the IUPAC system of nomenclature.


It is applied to the leaves of plants to kill weeds. It is widely used in India, too.


According to a 2016 bulletin published by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the weedkiller in India goes by various brand names, including Roundup, Glycel, and Brake.


Describing the herbicide’s reach in the country, it says, “Glyphosate was highly accepted by the tea planters in the past two decades.


It has a very good market size in the tea sector of West Bengal and Assam. Presently, the consumption of glyphosate is highest in Maharashtra as it is becoming a key herbicide in sugarcane, maize and many fruit crops including mango, banana, grapes, pomegranate and citrus.”


Why it is a worry:

In 2015, the Word Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer published a study that found glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.


Political issue: The Financial Express quoted an official source as saying, “Although it will be a political decision whether to ban it or not, the official position is that the herbicide is needed for agriculture and is used in many countries, including the US, China, Brazil and Canada.


France, Italy, and Vietnam banned the herbicide’s use after the IARC finding.



Source: Indian Express.


RISING NPAS: BANKS EXPOSURE TO UNRATED LOANS INCREASED THREEFOLD IN 3 YEARS

Part of GS- 3 Economy


Why in news:


Banks’ non-performing assets (NPAs) for unrated exposure jumped to as much as 24 per cent by the end of 2018 from about 6 per cent in 2015, data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) shows.


This indicates the growing risks from loans that are not rated by credit rating agencies.


While the proportion of unrated loans to total loans has stayed constant at around 40 per cent in last four years, NPAs in unrated exposures have surged steadily each year.

This data is based on assessment of banks’ funded and non-funded exposure to large borrowers.


What is a Non-Performing Asset?


Any asset which stops giving returns to its investors for a specified period of time is known as Non-Performing Asset (NPA).


Generally, that specified period of time is 90 days in most of the countries and across the various lending institutions. However, it is not a thumb rule and it may vary with the terms and conditions agreed upon by the financial institution and the borrower.


An example:

Suppose the State Bank of India gives a loan of Rs. 10 crores to a company (Eg: Kingfisher Airlines). Consider that they agreed upon for an interest rate of say 10% per annum. Now suppose that initially everything was good and the market forces were working in support to the airline industry, therefore, Kingfisher was able to service the interest amount. Later, due to administrative, technical or corporate reasons suppose the company is not able to pay the interest rates for 90 days. In that case, a loan given to the Kingfisher Airlines is a good case for the consideration as NPA.


Categories of Non-Performing Assets :

  • Substandard Assets- An asset which remains as NPAs for less than or equal to 12 months.

  • Doubtful Assets- An asset which remained in the above category for 12 months.

  • Loss Assets- Asset where loss has been identified by the bank or the RBI, however, there may be some value remaining in it. Therefore loan has not been not completely written off.



Source: PIB, IE


HOW LONG IS A DAY ON EACH PLANET?

Part of GS- 3 S&T


Why in news:

Astronomers are still looking for an accurate assessment of the length of a day on Venus, while Saturn continues to deceive us. Two new studies underline how much there is still left to learn.


Summary:


Centuries ago, the ancients divided the day into 24 equal parts, or hours. Today, we look at this from the other point of view: the Earth takes approximately 24 hours to rotate once.


Among other planets, Mars spins once in a little under 25 Earth-hours, while Jupiter spins so fast that its day is less than 10 hours long.


It is a measure so central to our understanding of the planets that it might appear scientists would have got the rotation periods of the Solar System planets figured out by now.


The fact is they have not. Astronomers are still looking for an accurate assessment of the length of a day on Venus, while Saturn continues to deceive us. Two new studies underline how much there is still left to learn.


Venus: hide & seek


Venus is something of an oddball. Obscured by clouds, it does not present a readily visible surface feature, such as a crater, which could have been a reference point for measuring its rotation period. In 1963, when radar observations broke through the cloud cover, Venus revealed that it rotates in a direction opposite to that for most planets.


These observations showed the length of a Venusian day is 243 days, or 5,832 hours. Subsequent measurements have, however, given inconsistent values, differing by about six minutes.


Saturn: seasonal tricks


A gas giant, by definition, it has no solid surface features for scientists to track. For Jupiter, scientists figured out the rotation period by observing patterns in radio signals from there.


Saturn has defied such attempts. It emits only low-frequency radio patterns that are blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. Only after Voyagers 1 and 2 sent home data, in 1980 and 1981, could scientists analyse patterns that suggested a day on Saturn is about 10:40 hours long.


But just 23 years later, the Cassini spacecraft sent data that showed the period had changed by 6 minutes, about 1%— which should take hundreds of millions of years.

To find answers for Saturn, a new study led by Duane Pontius of Birmingham-Southern College, US, looked at Jupiter.


A key difference is that unlike Jupiter, Saturn has a tilted axis and, therefore, seasons like Earth. Depending on the season, the northern and southern hemispheres receive different amounts of ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. This affects the plasma at the edge of Saturn’s atmosphere.


This suggests that the observed periods are not the rotation period of Saturn’s core. That remains unmeasured.


One of the conclusions of our work is that the rotation period cannot be determined from the radio signals. Pontius said, in reply to a question. “As for when how and when the core period can be measured, I really don’t know! However, the physics of Saturn’s magnetosphere is now known to be governed by the rotation rate that governs of its upper atmosphere.”


Source: IE

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