UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 16-June-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. India acts tough with Nepal, asks it to create conditions for talks

  2. Unemployment rate declines sharply as India exits lockdown

  3. India has its first gas exchange. What it is, and how it will work

  4. NASA’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost

  5. ‘Why suspend sex test rules?’ - SC

  6. Van Dhan Yojana


INDIA ACTS TOUGH WITH NEPAL, ASKS IT TO CREATE CONDITIONS FOR TALKS

  • Why in news? India has decided to play hardball with Nepal by accusing its Prime Minister K P Oli of creating a difficult situation and seeking conducive conditions for talks on mutually competing claims over a strip of land on the Indo-Nepal border.


Highlights:

  • The observation comes a day before Nepal’s Upper House will consider a resolution to change the map on the Coat of Arms to include the areas claimed by India as well. The Lower House had unanimously passed the resolution last week.

  • The Indian stand with respect to Nepal is at variance with its attitude to resolving the stand-off with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where it entered into talks with no preconditions.

  • The dispute has not impaired cooperation in other areas. “Our cooperation is multifaceted. The Government of India has remained in the forefront of Covid assistance to Nepal and work is going on integrated check posts and various rail connectivity links besides small developmental projects,” Sources said.


Source : Tribune India ( https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/india-acts-tough-with-nepal-asks-it-to-create-conditions-for-talks-99557 )


UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DECLINES SHARPLY AS INDIA EXITS LOCKDOWN

Why in news?

  • India’s labour market showed surprising strength in the second week of June, restoring many jobs that were lost to the economic upheaval caused by the nationwide lockdown, and offering some substance to the hope that the worst may be over.


Highlights:

  • The national unemployment rate fell sharply to 11.63% in the week ended 14 June from 17.51% in the previous week, bringing the job loss rate closer to the levels prevailing before the lockdown, a survey by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) found.

  • The urban unemployment rate at 13.1% is higher than both the rural and overall job loss rate, CMIE said.

  • The lockdown had wiped out the self-employment space, and when the unlocking has picked up, this category of people are going back to earn their livelihood, which is showing in this survey findings

  • Economists and job market experts, however, warned that the improvement is largely because of a growth in casual work and self-employment activities, and should not be interpreted as growth in formal sector jobs. 

  • The lack of decent jobs, experts argue, has the potential to push more people to poverty.


Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/news/india/unemployment-rate-declines-sharply-as-india-exits-lockdown-11592249924927.html )


INDIA HAS ITS FIRST GAS EXCHANGE. WHAT IT IS, AND HOW IT WILL WORK

Why in news?

  • India’s first gas exchange —the Indian Gas Exchange (IGX) — was launched on Monday. The exchange is expected to facilitate transparent price discovery in natural gas, and facilitate the growth of the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket.


Highlights:

  • The IGX is a digital trading platform that will allow buyers and sellers of natural gas to trade both in the spot market and in the forward market for imported natural gas across three hubs —Dahej and Hazira in Gujarat, and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.

  • Imported Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will be regassified and sold to buyers through the exchange, removing the requirement for buyers and sellers to find each other.

  • This will mean that buyers do not have to contact multiple dealers to ensure they find a fair price.

  • The exchange also allows much shorter contracts – for delivery on the next day, and up to a month – while ordinarily contracts for natural gas supply are as long as six months to a year.

  • This, experts say, will allow buyers and sellers greater flexibility.

  •  The price of domestically produced natural gas is decided by the government. It will not be sold on the gas exchange.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/indian-gas-exchange-igx-what-it-is-and-how-it-will-work-6460379/ )


NASA’S GATEWAY LUNAR ORBITING OUTPOST

Why in news?

  • NASA recently finalised the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost. The contract, which is worth $187 million has been awarded to Orbital Science Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Space.


Highlights:

  • NASA has described the Gateway as key to the new era of lunar explorations both in the orbit and on the surface of the Moon.

  • One of the most unique features of the Gateway is that it can be moved to other orbits around the Moon to conduct more research.

  • The Gateway is being built by both international and commercial partners and will support exploration on and near the Moon and later to Mars as well.

  • NASA has issued this contract to design the habitation and logistics (HALO) support for the Gateway, which is a part of NASA’s Artemis program that aims to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.

  • The HALO refers to the pressurised living quarters where astronauts will spend their time while visiting the Gateway.

  • As per a NASA press release, these quarters will be about the size of a small apartment and will provide augmented life support in tandem with NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

  • The Gateway is a small spaceship that will orbit the Moon, meant for astronaut missions to the Moon and later, for expeditions to Mars.

  • It will act as a temporary office and living quarters for astronauts, distanced at about 250,000 miles from Earth.

  • The spaceship will have living quarters, laboratories for science and research and docking ports for visiting spacecraft.

  •  Once docked to the Gateway, astronauts will be able to stay there for three months at a time, conduct science experiments and take trips to the surface of the Moon.

  • As of now, NASA has targetted the completion of the Gateway for 2026, while work on the spaceship is already underway.

  • By 2022, NASA plans to ready the power and propulsion for the spaceship, which will be launched on a partner-provided commercial rocket.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-is-nasas-gateway-lunar-orbiting-outpost-6460219/ )


‘WHY SUSPEND SEX TEST RULES?’ - SC

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to explain its decision to suspend crucial rules of a parliamentary law against pre-natal sex determination and sex selection till June-end, amid the COVID-19 national lockdown.


Highlights:

  • A bench issued formal notice to the government on a petition filed by Sabu Mathew George challenging an April 4 notification issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which put on hold the implementation of certain rules of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex-Selection Rules) of 1996 till June 30, 2020.

  • It asked how the government could temporarily freeze rules framed under a parliamentary law through a mere notification.

  • One of the suspended provisions, Rule 8, is intrinsically connected with the statute’s provisions dealing with the mandatory registration of genetic counselling centres, laboratories and clinics. Non-compliance leads to penalty. 

  • The number of girls missing at birth due to the practice of gender biased sex selection in India has been estimated at 0.46 million girls per year for the period 2001-12 (which is 5.52 million girl children, missing at birth for the 12-year period), and the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act and the Rules thereunder, are aimed at remedying this social evil

  • This will result in misuse of technology by unscrupulous individuals who will no longer be deterred by the monitoring mechanism provided in the Rules


Source : Hindu ( Page 11 , 16 June 2020 )


VAN DHAN YOJANA

  • Why in news? A few years ago, tribal communities in Langleng, one of Nagaland’s poorest districts, used to sell their unique hill broom grass for just ₹7 a kg. Today, by making the brooms themselves with support from the Van Dhan Yojna, they now earn ₹60 a broom, making four or five brooms from a kg of grass.


Highlights:

  • Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY) is a retail marketing led value addition plan for Minor Forest Produce (MFP), meant for forest-based tribes to optimize the tribal income, locally.

  • Under the program, MFP-based tribal groups / enterprises of around 300 members are formed for collection, value addition, packaging & marketing of Minor Forest Produces (MFPs).

  • These tribal enterprises will be in the form of Van Dhan SHGs which will be a group of 15-20 members and such 15 SHG groups will further be federated into a larger group of Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKS) of around 300 members.

  • TRIFED will support the VDVKs through providing them with model business plans, processing plans & tentative list of equipment for carrying out the value addition work of MFPs. The details would be made available on the TRIFED’s website.


Source : Hindu ( Page 11 , 16 June 2020 )


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