28 May Current Affairs
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29 May Current Affairs

National Schedule Caste Schedule Tribe Hub

In News:

NSIC signs MOU with Ministry of MSME. The MOU envisages provision of enhanced services by NSIC under its marketing, financial, technology and other support services schemes for MSMEs in the country.

Details:

Under the scheme of National SC-ST Hub being implemented by NSIC on behalf of the Ministry of MSME, it will be a continued endeavour to provide assistance to SC/ST entrepreneurs through different interventions and various outreach activities with the overall objectives to increase their participation in public procurement.

About the National Schedule Caste Schedule Tribe Hub:

The National SC/ST Hub has been set up to provide professional support to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Entrepreneurs to fulfil the obligations under the Central Government Public Procurement Policy for Micro and Small Enterprises Order 2012, adopt applicable business practices and leverage the Stand-Up India initiative.

The Hub would be implemented by the Ministry of MSME through National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), a public-sector undertaking under the administrative control of this Ministry of MSME.

UN Security Council

In News:

Vice President calls for renewed efforts for India to gain permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

About UNSC:

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.

Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

Members: The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.

The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.

Proposed reforms:

Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) encompasses five key issues:categories of membership, the question of the veto held by the five permanent members, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and the Security Council-General Assembly relationship. There is also a proposal to admit more permanent members.

India’s demands:

India has been calling for the reform of the UN Security Council along with Brazil, Germany and Japan for long, emphasising that it rightly deserves a place at the UN high table as a permanent member.

Why India should be given a permanent seat in the council?

India was among the founding members of United Nations.

It is the second largest and a one of the largest constant contributor of troops to United Nations Peacekeeping missions.

Today, India has over 8,500 peacekeepers in the field, more than twice as many as the UN’s five big powers combined.

India, since long time, has been demanding expansion of UNSC and its inclusion as permanent member in it. It has been a member of UNSC for 7 terms and a member of G-77 and G-4, so permanent membership is a logical extension.

UN Habitat

In News:

India has been elected to the Executive Board of the first UN-Habitat Assembly.

About UN Habitat:

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat) is the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development.

It was established in 1978 as an outcome of the First UN Conference on Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat I) held in Vancouver, Canada in 1976.

It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

The mandate of UN-Habitat derives from the Habitat Agenda, adopted by the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996.

The twin goals of the Habitat Agenda are adequate shelter for all and the development of sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world.

As an inter-governmental policy making and decision making body, the Governing Council of UN-Habitat seeks to promote integral and comprehensive approach to human settlements, assist the countries and regions in addressing human settlement problems and strengthen cooperation among all countries on human settlement issue.

UN-Habitat reports to the United Nations General Assembly.

Source: The Hindu

Export policy

In News:

The Commerce Ministry has come out with a comprehensive draft of the export policy which includes product- specific rules with a view to provide a ready reckoner for exporters.

Highlights of the Draft Export Policy, 2019:

The draft policy aims at consolidating the export norms for each product as applicable at different government agencies.

It is proposed to bring out a comprehensive exports policy for all ITC (HS) tariff codes (including items which are ‘free’ for export and do not currently exist in the policy), covering conditions/restrictions imposed by partner government agencies on exports.

The compendium will help an exporter know all the applicable norms pertaining to a particular product, helping him/her understand policy conditions for that item.

Consolidating norms:

This exercise is for consolidating the norms and not for making any changes in the existing export policy of the country. It also includes non-tariff regulations imposed by different government agencies.

Additional facts:

ITC (HS) codes are better known as Indian Trade Clarification (ITC) and are based on Harmonized System (HS) of Coding. It was adopted in India for import-export operations. Indian custom uses an eight digit ITC (HS) code to suit the national trade requirements.

Any changes or formulation or addition of new codes in ITC-HS Codes are carried out by DGFT (Directorate General of Foreign Trade).

Source: The Hindu

Kartarpur Sahib pilgrim corridor

In News:

Officials from Pakistan and India recently held a meeting to discuss the modalities for a corridor linking Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur across the border.

Background:

In a significant decision, the Union Cabinet, last year, approved the building and development of the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the international border, in order to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi river, in Pakistan, where Shri Guru Nanak Devji spent eighteen years. Pilgrims would then be able to visit the holy shrine throughout the year.

Key facts:

The Kartarpur corridor will be implemented as an integrated development project with Government of India funding, to provide smooth and easy passage, with all the modern amenities.

Government of India will put in place suitable facilities for smooth passage of pilgrims. Government of Pakistan will be urged to recognize the sentiments of the Sikh community and to develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory as well.

The shrine:

The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of the Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore. It was here that Guru Nanak assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539. The shrine is visible from the Indian side, as Pakistani authorities generally trim the elephant grass that would otherwise obstruct the view. Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers for darshan from the Indian side, and binoculars are installed at Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak.

Access to gurdwaras in Pakistan:

Sikh jathas from India travel to Pakistan on four occasions every year — for Baisakhi, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev. These Indian pilgrims are given access to all gurdwaras in Pakistan.

Source: The Hindu

United States’ currency monitoring watchlist

In News:

The Donald Trump administration has removed India from its currency monitoring watchlist. In its semi-annual foreign-exchange report to the US Congress, the Treasury Department did not mention India’s name in its watchlist of countries with potentially “questionable” foreign exchange policies and currency “manipulation”.

Countries in the list:

India, alongside China, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and South Korea, was placed in the bi-annual currency watch list in October last year.

While India and Switzerland have not been mentioned in the latest list, the US has added Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to the list, with China continuing to figure in it.

Implications:

While the designation of a country as a currency manipulator does not immediately attract any penalties, it tends to dent the confidence about a country in the global financial markets.

The criterion:

Countries with a current-account surplus equivalent to 2 per cent of gross-domestic product are eligible for the list, according to modifications made in the new list, down from 3 per cent earlier. Other thresholds include repeated intervention in the currency markets and a trade surplus with the US of at least $20 billion.

Why is this significant?

Tweaks in currency policy has been used by the Trump administration to browbeat countries that, from Washington’s perspective, have hurt American businesses and consumers. For India, this comes amid the ongoing trade spat between Washington and New Delhi.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that India is a “tariff king” and imposes “tremendously high” tariffs on American products, while also dismissing as “inadequate” the Indian government’s decision to halve the import tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles from 100% to 50% last year, even as he has maintained that his administration is “fixing broken trade deals” to protect American workers.

Source: Indian Express

Operation Safed Sagar

Operation Safed Sagar was undertaken by the Air Force jointly to flush out infiltrators in the Kargil sector along the Line of Control.

Kappaphycus alvarezii

In News:

It is an invasive, which smothers and kills coral reefs.

Details:

It has spread its wings to coral reef areas in Valai island in the Gulf of Mannar (GoM) and set to invade new coral colonies in the marine national park. It has already invaded Shingle, Kurusadai and Mulli islands in Mandapam cluster of the GoM, the red algae invaded Valai island along Kilakarai coast following its cultivation in south Palk Bay.

Regulation: A 2005 Government Order had restricted cultivation of the exotic seaweed only to the seawaters north of the Palk Bay and South of Thoothukdi coast.

East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port

Sri Lanka, Japan and India have signed an agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port. The joint initiative is estimated to cost between $500 million and $700 million.

As per the agreement signed, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) retains 100% ownership of the East Container Terminal (ECT), while the Terminal Operations Company is jointly owned.

Sri Lanka will hold a 51% stake in the project and the joint venture partners will retain 49%.

The ECT is located some three km away from the China-backed international financial city, known popularly as “port city”.

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