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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 22 August 2020

Contents

  1. Kerala to host dragonfly festival
  2. Kashmir figures in China, Pakistan dialogue
  3. Nagaland plea against Lokayukta
  4. RBI at end of rate-cut cycle
  5. Covid-19 toll on MSMEs

KERALA TO HOST DRAGONFLY FESTIVAL

Focus: Prelims, GS-I Art and Culture

Why in news?

WWF-India State unit has joined hands with the Society for Odonate Studies (SOS) and Thumbipuranam for the first-ever State Dragonfly Festival in Kerala, christened Thumbimahotsavam 2020.

Details

  • ‘Pantalu’ is the official mascot of the festival.
  • As part of the festival, various programmes will be rolled out in the coming months to reach out to various sections of society.
  • This is part of a national dragonfly festival being organised by the WWF India, Bombay Natural History Society & Indian Dragonfly Society in association with the National Biodiversity Board, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Development Programme and IUCN – Centre for Environment Conservation.
  • A digital odonate knowledge hub will also be established which will host all available materials in the form of scientific papers, posters, videos and stickers.

-Source: The Hindu


KASHMIR FIGURES IN CHINA, PAKISTAN DIALOGUE

Focus: GS-III International Relations

Why in news?

China and Pakistan said they would firmly back each other on “core national interests”, as their Foreign Ministers discussed the Kashmir issue in their annual strategic dialogue.

Details

  • China said Pakistan was “its staunchest partner in the region” and it would “firmly support” the country “in safeguarding its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence” and in “striving for a better external security environment,” according to a “joint press release” from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
  • China’s comments on “unilateral actions” echoed Beijing’s multiple statements in 2019 that hit out at India’s move to dilute Article 370 and end statehood for Jammu and Kashmir.
  • China had also opposed the creation of the Ladakh union territory and said the move had “undermined China’s sovereignty” as it included Aksai Chin and areas claimed by China, although the internal reorganisation did not change India’s external boundaries.
  • The press release from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said both sides “agreed on continuing their firm support on issues concerning each other’s core national interests.”

Regarding CPEC

  • China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), “a landmark project” under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is of “great importance to promoting in-depth development of the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.
  • India has consistently opposed CPEC because it passes through PoK. Beijing has paid little attention to New Delhi’s reservations about trade and transit corridor and pumped in money and resources to building infrastructure such as power plants and highways.a
  • CPEC is among the new irritants and concerns for India’s ties with China, but Beijing has refused to address this issue, arguing it is only an economic project.

China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

  • China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of infrastructure projects that are under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013.
  • CPEC is intended to rapidly upgrade Pakistan’s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones.
  • On 13 November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.
  • A vast network of highways and railways are to be built under the aegis of CPEC that will span the length and breadth of Pakistan.
  • CPEC passes through the disputed region of Kashmir where Indian and Pakistani border guards have occasionally exchanged fire across the Line of Control. The Government of India, which shares tense relations with Pakistan, objects to the CPEC project as upgrade works to the Karakoram Highway are taking place in Gilgit Baltistan; territory that India claims as its own.

-Source: The Hindu, Hindustan Times


NAGALAND PLEA AGAINST LOKAYUKTA

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Supreme Court issued notice on a plea filed by the State of Nagaland for a direction to its Lokayukta to cease exercising his powers and functions and transfer all his work to the Upa-Lokayukta.

Details

The petition by Nagaland asked the court to use its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to preserve the institutional integrity of the Lokayukta and ensure that a “fit, proper and competent person” occupies the office of the Lokayukta.

Lokayukta

  • The Lokayukta (also Lok Ayukta) (lokāyukta, “civil commissioner”) is an anti-corruption ombudsman organization in the Indian states.
  • Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly.
  • The Lokayukta, along with the Income Tax Department and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, mainly helps people publicise corruption among the Politicians and Government Officials.
  • Many acts of the LokAyukta have resulted in criminal or other consequences for those charged.
  • Maharashtra was the first state to introduce the institution of Lokayukta (considered the weakest Lokayukta due to lack of powers, staff, funds and an independent investigating agency).
  • On the other hand, the Karnataka Lokayukta is considered the most powerful Lokayukta in the country.
  • Karnataka Lokayukta is considered the most powerful Lokayukta in the country.

Click Here to read more about the Lokpal

-Source: The Hindu


RBI AT END OF RATE-CUT CYCLE

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The Reserve Bank is at the end of its rate-cut cycle as inflation is unlikely to decline materially from the current level, and the onus of economic recovery has now shifted to the government, economists at SBI said.

Details

  • RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee, where high inflation was cited as the prime reason for the unanimous decision to hold rates. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had cut rates by 1.15% in two moves since the onset of the pandemic in March this year in order to push economic growth, but surprised many by holding rates at the August review as inflation overshot its target.
  • With no rate cuts on the table, the other monetary policy alternative could be to reduce the width of the asymmetric policy corridor or increase in reverse repo rate when the pandemic subsides.
  • The supply chain disruptions are showing no signs of abating and have played a spoilsport across several states.

-Source: The Hindu


COVID-19 TOLL ON MSMES

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Introduction

The numbers (as a part of a presentation made by the ministry of MSMEs) highlight the toll the pandemic and the lockdown imposed to slow its spread (though the national lockdown ended, localised lockdowns continue across many parts of India as cases continue to rise) has taken on what is popularly described as the backbone of Indian industry – MSMEs.

Details

  • Nine out of every 10 of India’s 63.3 million small businesses (termed micro, small, and medium enterprises or MSMEs) have restarted operations after the lockdown necessitated by Covid-19, but only one in four is producing at least half its capacity — largely on account of poor demand, logistical issues, and their own financial troubles.
  • 85% of MSME units operate from households and as their exposure to formal banking is almost zero, they are not able to take the benefit of the Centre’s liquidity package, which is linked to outstanding bank credit.
  • Four million MSMEs had been sanctioned around ~140,000 crore under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme announced as part of the government’s ~20 lakh crore relief package, of which around ~95,000 crore had been disbursed as of August 2020.
  • India’s small businesses employ around 110 million people and accounted for almost half of India’s exports in 2019-20.
  • They also account for around 30% of GDP.

-Source: Hindustan Times

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