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26 June Current Affairs

Reliance JioTV & Haryana Government Signs Agreement to benefit 5.2 Million School Children

In News:

The Education Minister of Haryana has announced that the Haryana State Government has signed an agreement under the Chief Minister’s Distance Learning Programme with Reliance Industries Limited’s subsidiary company Jio. The agreement signed is to provide education to school children in the rural areas of the state.

Details:

Schools across the state were closed in the month of March 2020 following a nationwide lockdown to combat COVID-19, after 3 months, today it’s still uncertain on when the schools will re-open.

About the Agreement:

The agreement is signed with the aim to impart education to every school student in the state without jeopardizing social distancing norms.

The four channels of EDUSAT will be available free of cost on the live television streaming application of Jio- JioTV. The content that will be live broadcasted on the channels of EDUSAT will also be available in recorded mode on the JioTV platform that will enable students to watch and study as per their convenience.

The agreement will benefit a combined 52 lakh (5.2 million) students of both government and private schools in the state of Haryana.

President Halimah Yacob dissolves Parliament

In News:

In the midst of a global pandemic, the Elections Department of Singapore had announced on 23rd June 2020 that the 2020 General Election will be held on the 10th of July 2020. This announcement came after President of Singapore, Halimah Yacob had dissolved the ongoing 13th Parliament of Singapore earlier on the same day.

Details:

The announcement that the Parliament has been dissolved was made by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. The Prime Minister justified his actions for calling an imminent election at the time of a global pandemic by stating that the COVID-19 outbreak is relatively stable in the country, further he assured that for the elections to be carried out safely, actions such as- suspension of mass rallies, an increased number of polling stations, designated time-bands for the senior citizens to vote, etc will be taken.

In order to reduce the risks of virus transmission, the Election Department issued further safety guidelines that the political parties will be required to follow, such as for door-to-door campaigns a maximum of 5 persons will be allowed in a group, etc.

Parliament of Singapore:

It is a unicameral parliament with 105 seats. 47 seats is the majority mark that is required by a political party or coalition to form a government.

  • Out of 105, 93 members are elected through the Parliamentary Elections, 3 seats are reserved under the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) while the remaining 9 seats are reserved for the Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP).
  • The 3 NCMP seats are for those who have lost in the General Elections of the Parliament but are among the best performing losers (top 3 those who have lost in the General Election by least Margin).
  • 9 NMP members are appointed directly by the President of Singapore.

Indigenously Developed ULV Sprayer successfully completed Trials for Locust Control

In News:

With the rise in limitations for importing equipment, the Mechanization and Technology Division of the Department of Agricultural Co-operation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) led the initiative for developing indigenous vehicle mounted ULV (Ultra Low Volume) Sprayer for Locust Control. The indigenously developed prototype had completed the trials successfully. Trials were conducted at Ajmer and Bikaner districts of Rajasthan.

Details:

To date, the United Kingdom-based firm-Micron Sprayers was the sole supplier of vehicle-mounted sprayers to India. Out of the 60 such spray equipment last ordered in February 2020 from the supplier, 15 has been delivered to date.

Demerit of Vehicle Mounted Sprayer:

One demerit of the vehicle-mounted sprayer is that it can spray to a maximum height of between 25 to 30 feet as a result of which its use is limited, can’t be used for tall trees, and inaccessible areas.

Necessity for Aerial Spray:

Citing the limitations of the vehicle-mounted sprayer, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has impaneled two firms for providing a spray of pesticides with the help of drones. Further, an Empowered Committee was constituted for the procurement of the goods and services required for the aerial spray of pesticides.

This Committee recommended 5 companies for the work order engagement of Drones. Each of the 5 companies has been issued 5 drones each. In a phased manner, 12 drones have been already deployed at 5 districts of Rajasthan to date.

India became the first country in the world that is using Drones for controlling desert locust, this effort made by India was appreciated by the specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for improving food security and nutrition by defeating hunger across the world-the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

RIC: Russia Backs India for Permanent UN Security Council Seat, FM reminds China to Respect International Laws

In News:

The Foreign Ministerial level meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) was conducted on 23rd June 2020. The trilateral virtual meeting was hosted by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The RIC meeting was to commemorate the 75th foundation anniversary of the United Nations following the conclusion of the Second World War.

Over the years Russia has backed the entry of India for a permanent membership at the United Nations Security Council, during the RIC meet as well the Russian Foreign Minister had expressed Russia’s strong support for the inclusion of India as a Permanent Member at the United Nations Security Council. Last week on June 17th, India become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council by registering 184 out of the total 192 valid votes in its favour.

India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar indirectly pressed for inclusion of India at the UN Security Council by reminding the contributions that the Indians have made at the time of the Second World War.

S Jaishankar also emphasized the historical injustice that the victors of the Second World War have made by not recognizing the contributions and the sacrifices that were made by the Indians.

The Foreign Minister reminded China about the contribution of the Indian Physicians in 1938 when Japan Invaded China. The Indian Medical Mission led by Dwarkanath Kotnis performed operations for up to 72 hours without any sleep. More than 800 wounded Chinese Soldiers were treated by the Mission.

In an oblique manner, the Indian Foreign Minister reminded China about the significance of building a durable world order by respecting international laws for promoting the common good and supporting multilateralism.

China has decided to join the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

In News:

The people’s Republic of China will join the multilateral Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), this was decided during a three-day meeting from 18th June to 20th June of the top lawmaking committee in China- Legislative Affairs Committee. China was one of the 23 countries back in 2013 when it abstained from the vote to adopt the treaty at the United Nations.

Details:

China now seems determined to showcase itself on the world stage as a responsible player- After curbing the autonomy of Hong Kong, making continuous attempts to administer complete sovereignty in the South China Sea, and further making its territorial ambitions clear by raising border conflicts with India.

The U.S. President has announced in April 2019 that the U.S. will never ratify the Arms Trade Treaty under his administration (the U.S has signed the treaty but was yet to ratify). 5 months later on 27th September 2019, China is going through domestic legal procedures for joining the Arms Trade Treaty- This was stated by their Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the United Nations General Assembly.

As per a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in March 2020, between 2015 to 2019: By accounting 5.5 percent of the global market and exporting arms to 53 countries the fifth-largest arms-exporter in the world was China.

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT):

Under this treaty, international sales and transfer of conventional arms are regulated as per the global standards. The treaty was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly on 2nd April 2013. It came into force from 24th December 2014.

The treaty was launched with the aim of maintaining international and regional peace. The global standards that have been set under the treaty are in line for promoting transparency and co-operation among the countries. To date, about 130 countries have ratified the treaty. India has not signed the treaty yet.

RCEP Member States hope India will Rejoin the Proposed Trade Agreement

In News:

A virtual inter-sessional ministerial meeting of the proposed free trade agreement of a group of 15 countries from the Indo Pacific region- Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was conducted on 23rd June 2020. Apart from the 10 ASEAN countries, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and China are the 15 countries that are negotiating for the free trade agreement.

Details:

Since the outbreak of the global pandemic in March 2020, this was the 3rd major RCEP meet, earlier the 29th and the 30th RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee meeting were conducted in the months of April and May in which all the 15 participating countries have reaffirmed to sign the agreement in 2020.

The economic crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought has accelerated the RCEP negotiations over the last months as all the 15 countries under the negotiating agreement are looking for a larger market for their economic recovery. As a result, India with a population of more than 130 crores is being recognized as a valuable participant under the free trade agreement.

In a joint statement released after the ministerial-level meeting of RCEP countries on 24th June 2020, it was stated that the RCEP group remains open for India, the participation of India in RCEP will contribute to the prosperity and overall advancement of the region.

India’s stance to RCEP:

India pulled out of the RCEP group in November 2019 as opening up the market through this free trade agreement can put the domestic manufacturers and producers of India at risk of getting swamped by imports from China.

Also, India has already a trade deficit with 11 out of the 15 countries participating in the RCEP agreement.

Gujarat, Tripura, and Nagaland Best Performing States in Annual TB Report 2020

In News:

With a focus on eliminating Tuberculosis(TB) from the country by 2025, in January 2020 the Government of India renamed the ‘National Tuberculosis Control Program’ to the ‘National Tuberculosis Elimination Program’. In a virtual event, the Annual TB Report 2020 was released on 24th June 2020. The Report was released by Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Union Health Minister).

Highlights from the Report:

  • New cases notified in 2019 in India: 24.04 lakh. This as compared to 2018, amounts for a 14% increase in TB notification. Out of 24.04 lakh new cases, 6,64,584 cases were reported from the private healthcare sector.
  • Expanded provision of financial assistance provided through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to beneficiaries of 4 schemes under the NIKSHAY System
  • Almost every rural area in the country has been covered with the help of more than 4.5 lakh DOT Centres.
  • Number of missing cases significantly reduced to 2.9 lakh as compared to above 10 lakh missing cases in 2017
  • HIV testing for all notified TB patients increased to 81 % in 2019. This was 67% in 2018.

Best Performers:

States were divided based on their population as larger and smaller states. All states having more than 50 lakh population were under larger states while states with less than 50 lakh population were under smaller states.

In the larger state category, Gujarat was awarded as the best-performing state followed by Andhra Pradesh and Himanchal Pradesh at 2nd and 3rd place. In smaller states, both Nagaland and Tripura were awarded as best performers.

Among Union Territories, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu was awarded as the best performer.

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