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  • W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 08 June 2019 To 14 June 2019.
    Posted on June 25th, 2019 in Weekly Current Affairs
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    W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 08 June 2019 To 14 June 2019.

    1) International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) is observed every year throughout the world on
    13 June, with the aim of raising public awareness on albinism and to prevent attacks and
    discrimination against persons with albinism. Theme for IAAD 2019 was- Still Standing
    Strong. It calls upon people around the globe to recognize, celebrate and stand in solidarity
    with all albinism patients. About Albinism: It is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited
    disorder present at birth. It is a congenital disorder characterized by partial or complete
    absence of pigment melanin in skin, hair, and eyes. In almost all types of albinism, both
    parents (who are carrier) even if they do not have albinism themselves must carry gene for it
    to be passed on. The albinism condition is found in both sexes regardless of ethnicity and in
    all countries worldwide. There is no cure for absence of melanin that is predominantly central
    to albinism. The lack of melanin in skin makes albinos more prone to sunburn and also skin
    cancers. It is also associated with eye related problems such as photophobia, amblyopia
    (lazy eye), nystagmus, etc. Due to lack of melanin in skin as well as eyes of persons with
    albinism, they often have permanent visual impairment which mostly leads to disabilities.
    They also face discrimination due to their skin colour and thus are often subjected to multiple
    and intersecting discrimination on grounds of both disability and colour. Background: A
    Canadian NGO named Under the Same Sun (UTSS), on an international level joined Yusuf
    Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, late Ambassador of Mission of Somalia to United Nations (UN), in
    his effort to pass a resolution for promoting and protecting rights of persons with albinism.
    Such a resolution came about when on June 13 2013 United Nation Human Rights Council
    (UNHRC) adopted 1st ever resolution on albinism. Thereafter, on 26 June 2014 UNHRC in its
    resolution 26/10 recommended 13 June to be proclaimed as International Albinism
    Awareness Day by United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA). Later, UNGA adopted
    resolution 69/170 on 18 December 2014 and proclaimed 13 June with effect from 2015 to be
    observed as International Albinism Awareness Day. Why this date? The 13 June date was
    chosen is reminiscent of UN’s first ever resolution which was passed on 13 June year before.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 08 June 2019 To 14 June 2019.
    2) The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the extension of
    President’s rule under article 356(4) of Indian Constitution, in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for a
    period of 6 more months, beginning from 3 July 2019. The decision was based on prevailing
    situation in state as stated in report of Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik. The
    present term of President’s Rule is expiring on 2 July 2019 but as recommended by J&K
    Governor, the President Rule in State may be extended for a further period of six months with
    effect from 3 July 2019 if it gets parliamentary approval. Implementation: A resolution seeking
    approval of parliament for extending President’s Rule in J&K will be moved in both houses of
    parliament during the upcoming session. Background: J&K was placed under Governor’s
    Rule after Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) pulled out of coalition government with J&K’s Peoples
    Democratic Party (PDP) in June 2018. This Governor’s Rule was proclaimed under Section
    92 of Constitution of J&K with concurrence of President of India. It had resulted in Governor
    assuming to himself functions of Government as well as Legislature of J&K. During this time,
    State Assembly was initially suspended due to breaking of coalition government and was
    later dissolved by Governor in November 2018. The President’s Rule under Article 356 of
    Indian Constitution was imposed in J&K after Governor’s rule imposed in June 2018 had
    ceased after six months period in December 2018.  It was imposed because under Section
    92 of J&K Constitution, there is no provision for further continuation of such Proclamation
    after six months period. Later, resolution imposing President rules in J&K was approved by
    Parliament, (separately by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha). Way Forward: The Election
    Commission of India (ECI) stated that under Article 324 of Indian Constitution and other
    extant laws/rules etc. it took unanimous decision of holding of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly
    elections later in this year. The EC now confirmed that election schedule for state will be
    announced after the conclusion of Amarnath Yatra in August 2019. The Commission will also
    keep regular and real-time monitoring of situation in J&K as well as taking inputs from all
    necessary quarters for successful conduction of election. About President’s Rule: Article 356
    of constitution of India empowers President to issue a proclamation of Present’s Rule (or
    State Emergency), if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which government of a state
    cannot be carried on in accordance with provisions of Constitution. Thus, President’s rule is
    also called Constitutional Emergency as it deals with failure of constitutional machinery in
    State. The President can act in accordance with or without the report of Governor of state.
    President’s Rule in a state can continue for a period of 6 months at a time and after this
    period it can be extended for another term with approval of both houses of Parliament (Lok
    Sabha and Rajya Sabha) but for a maximum period of 3 years.
    3) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) committee led by Bimal Jalan (former RBI governor)
    constituted for considering guidelines for transfer of central bank’s surplus funds to
    government delayed submitting its report after lack of consensus among its members. The
    panel was originally supposed to submit its report in April 2019. Background: The RBI
    committee was appointed in December 2018 to review Economic Capital Framework (ECF)
    for central bank after then Union Ministry of Finance under Arun Jaitely advised RBI to
    transfer surplus funds to central government. Arguments by Finance Ministry:  The finance
    ministry was of view that the buffer of 28% of gross assets maintained by RBI bank is well
    above global norm of about 14%. Thus, RBI board in its meeting held on 19 November 2018,
    decided to constitute a panel to examine Economic Capital Framework (ECF). This led to
    loggerheads between government and RBI under its previous governor Urjit Patel (who later
    resigned) over Rs.9.6 lakh crore surplus capital that central bank keeps with itself. About ECF
    Panel: Members: The six member committee headed by Bimal Jalan includes- Rakesh
    Mohan (former deputy governor of RBI) as vice-chairman, Subhash Chandra Garg (finance
    secretary), N S Vishwanathan (RBI deputy governor), and lastly RBI central board members
    Sudhir Mankad and Bharat Doshi. Objective: The panel was entrusted to review best
    practices followed by central banks throughout the world in making assessment and
    provisions for risks. Timeline: The ECF panel was required to submit its report to RBI within
    90 days of its first meeting. The 1st meeting of ECF took place on 8 January 2019 following
    which the panel was given a 3 month extension. Way Forward- The Bimal Jalan led panel will
    now meet one more time before submitting its report by end of June 2019 and the delay in
    finalising report which may be over difference of opinion will also be discussed.
    4) India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted maiden test of
    an indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) from
    launch pad number-4 of Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha Coast.
    About HSTDV- It is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft. It is designed to cruise at
    Mach 6 speed with scramjet engine. Background: In 2008, DRDO stated that through HSTDV
    project idea was to demonstrate performance of a scram-jet engine at an altitude of 15 km to
    20 km, is on. Thus under this project, DRDO developed a hypersonic vehicle that will be
    powered by a scram-jet engine. Applications: HSTDV is dual-use technology thus with a
    scramjet engine, HSTDV can cruise at Mach 6 speed and can have multiple civilian
    applications. It can be used for launching satellites at low cost and can also be available for
    long-range cruise missiles of future. Key Highlights of Test- Method: In test conducted, a
    missile mounted with technology demonstrator vehicle is launched and vehicle is released
    only after missile reaches a certain altitude and velocity. Reason for launch: The launch of
    technology demonstrator vehicle was undertaken to prove a number of critical technologies
    for futuristic missions and to validate several technologies including HSTDV. Analysis: The
    HSDTV was supposed to fire and fly on its own after being carried to an altitude of around
    30-40 km by solid rocket motor of an Agni-I ballistic missile in test but after launch, Agni-I
    booster went into an uncontrolled mode and could not achieve desired altitude. Some
    technologies have been validated while some remained inconclusive of which data is being
    analysed. Scram-jet system v/s Ram jet system: In scram-jet technology, fuel combustion
    takes place in a chamber in missile at supersonic speeds while in a ram jet system, the
    system collects air it needs from atmosphere during flight at subsonic speeds and propellants
    burn in combustion chamber.
    5) The Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) entered into a Tripartite
    Agreement with French National Railways (SNCF) & AFD, a French development agency in
    order to support Railway Station Development Program in India. Key Highlights- Under the
    Tripartite Agreement, AFD will provide in-kind grant financing up to €700,000 to French
    Railways (SNCF), to provide technical know-how to Indian Railway Station Development
    Corporation (IRSDC), which is the station development arm of Indian Railways. The technical
    know-how will be provided by French National Railways (SNCF)-Hubs and Connexions as a
    Technical Partner to IRSDC therefore, this will not impose any financial liability on IRSDC or
    Indian Railways. Background: India and France have a strong, prosperous and long-standing
    partnership in Railway sector. The past association between French National Railways
    (SNCF) with Indian Railways includes conducting station development of Ludhiana and
    Ambala Railway stations and undertaking speed upgradation study to enable 200 kmph
    speed run on 245 km long Delhi-Chandigarh corridor, one of busiest routes in northern India.
    Way Forward: The recently signed Tripartite Agreement will go a long way in further
    strengthening cooperation between India and France, as well as help Indian Railways in
    positioning its stations in accordance to world class standards.
    6) The Indian Navy is hosting a Maritime Information Sharing Workshop 2019 edition under the
    aegis of the Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) at Gurugram,
    Harayana. The two-day event was inaugurated by Vice Admiral MS Pawar, Deputy Chief of
    the Naval Staff in 12 June 2019. Key Highlights- Participants: More than 41 delegates from
    29 countries of Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond participated in the workshop. During
    the MISW 2019 event Deputy Chief of Naval Staff stressed the need for greater maritime
    collaboration and for developing bonds based on trust between partner countries in IOR. He
    also requested delegates to participate actively in MISW. Several talks regarding
    contemporary maritime challenges in Indo-Pacific region and highlighting significance of
    maritime domain as well as the challenges faced by region were held at the event. Purpose:
    In course of 2 days, the MISW aims to acquaint all participants about IFC-IOR and its
    information sharing mechanisms. It also aims to promote sharing of best practices in this field
    so as to yield better response to myriad security and safety challenges that IOR faces. Issues
    undertaken: participants would look into issues such as piracy, maritime terrorism,
    humanitarian assistance & disaster relief, human & drug trafficking as well as legal
    perspective of combating these challenges. The delegates would also participate in an
    information sharing exercise scheduled on 13 June 2019. This is to practice and validate
    some of the concepts and procedures that have been evolved during workshop. About
    Information Fusion Centre Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR)- Background: It was launched on
    22 December 2018 by then Honourable Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, at
    Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) Gurugram, Haryana. Objective: The
    aim was to work closely with multi-national constructs and other information fusion centres so
    as to further maritime security and safety in Indian Ocean Region. Need: With over 75% of
    world’s maritime trade and 50% of global oil consumption passing through Indian Ocean
    Region, the region is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many nations. Mandate:
    It works towards capability building in IOR, coordinating in time incident response and
    disaster relief, and also sharing submarine safety information. So far the centre has
    established linkages with more than 16 countries and 13 international maritime security
    agencies.
    7) Actor Priyanka Chopra will be awarded Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award by United Nations
    International Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) American chapter at their Snowflake Ball in
    December 2019. Priyanka Chopra- She is known for her contribution to social causes and for
    being a voice for children’s education. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and most
    recently she visited Ethiopia as part of it. She also has been a part of United Nation’s global
    “Girl Up” Campaign. She is also associated with several NGOs in India to raise awareness
    about ways to improve the education, health and safety of girl child in India. About United
    Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF): It is special program of UN devoted to aid
    national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children. It
    was established in 1946 to provide relief to children in countries devastated by World War II.
    It is headquartered in New York City, United States. It was formerly known as United Nations
    International Children’s Emergency Fund. Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award: It is named after
    actor-philanthropist Danny Kaye. He was an American actor, singer, dancer, comedian,
    musician, and philanthropist. He was UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador in 1954.
    8) Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs launched DBT Tribal web portal to streamline and expedite the
    process of releasing scholarship grants directly into bank accounts of beneficiary students.
    DBT Tribal web portal- The portal provide single common platform to states to upload data
    related to beneficiaries, raise queries and give feedback. It has uniform 29-column data
    sharing format, related to personal and location details of beneficiaries. It is linked with
    Aadhaar and the Public Financial Management System, thus help to reduce the chances of
    duplication of beneficiary and manipulation. Significance: It is binding on all states and Union
    territories to upload data on this portal in prescribed format. It will enable central government
    to monitor who are receiving scholarship benefits in which state, district, block or school and
    how many grievances have been received and addressed. It will provide beneficiary data for
    monitoring purposes as the entire system has been digitized in uniform format. Background-
    The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs is currently running various schemes to bridge the gap
    between Scheduled Tribe (ST) and general category students. There are total five
    scholarship schemes funded by Central Government and implemented by State
    Governments. Two main scholarship schemes: They are for pre-matric and post-matric
    education. They are being implemented through states. For higher education: It runs “Top
    Class Education For ST Students” scheme in which 246 prestigious institutions, such as IITs
    and IIMs, participate. Around 1,000 students avail benefits under the scheme every year. For
    Mphil and PhD programmes: It is running national fellowship scheme for 750 beneficiaries.
    Overseas education: It is running scholarship scheme for tribal students willing to pursue
    higher studies overseas. Under it, 30 students can avail benefit every year. Total
    Beneficiaries: Under these five schemes, so far 1.58 crore beneficiaries have received
    scholarships worth Rs 7,900 crore across 31 states/UTs in the past five years. Responsibility
    of states: They are responsible for identification and verification of beneficiaries and timely
    disbursement of scholarships. Currently some states are doing it manually, while others have
    their own direct benefit transfer portals.
    9) The Central government has set a target of providing clean drinking water to all by 2024. It
    includes increasing coverage of piped water to households from current 18 to 100% by 2024.
    Water Status in India- Over the years per capita availability of water has fallen drastically.
    From 5,000 litre per capita availability of water in 1950 we now only have nearly 1,400 litre
    per capita availability of water. Thus even though the population has increased three times
    since 1950, per capita availability of water has reduced considerably and is about one-third
    (33%) of that amount now. In states like Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand,
    Odisha and West Bengal (WB) the coverage of clean drinking water is less than 5%. It is only
    in Sikkim that 99% of households get tapped water. About the Clean Drinking Water to All
    2024- Need: With almost all of rural India depending on monsoon for agricultural and
    domestic purposes, there is a desperate need for viable water management and conservation
    so as to end the water woes in the country. Citing the widening gap between water supply
    and demand, newly constituted Jal Ministry notified that apart from increasing coverage of
    piped water to households’ emphasis will also be laid on water conservation. Gajendra Singh
    Shekhawat, Union Minister of Jal Shakti recently held discussions with officials and Ministers
    from several states looking after water-related issues. Way Forward: As per the 7th Schedule
    of Indian Constitution, Water is a State Subject under Entry 17 in State List, thus collective
    efforts and a public movement is needed to achieve the desired target. About Jal Ministry- It
    has been newly created in the second term of the Modi government. It has been made by
    reorganising Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation,
    which was held by Nitin Gadkari in previous Modi government (2014-2019). The Ministry of
    Drinking Water and Sanitation has also been added to it Jal Ministry. This Ministry will cater
    to many aspects relating to water such ensuring clean water and top class irrigation water
    facilities for farmers.
    10) Krishnamurthy Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) and B. Sriram, former managing
    director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI
    Bank) were appointed part-time members of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI).
    K Subramanian, an Indian School of Business (ISB) Hyderabad professor was appointed
    chief economic adviser for a period of 3 years in December 2018. Their appointment was
    approved by Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), which is composed of Prime
    Minister of India (who is Chairman), Union Minister of Home Affairs and the order for
    appointment was issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). About Insolvency
    and Bankruptcy Board of India- IBBI, an insolvency regulatory agency was established on 1
    October 2016. It was given statutory powers by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the
    bankruptcy law of India which was passed by Lok Sabha on 5 May 2016. The IBC 2016
    established Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), to oversee insolvency
    proceedings in India and to regulate entities registered under it. The IBBI Governing Board
    consists of 10 members, including representatives from the Ministry of Finance (MoF),
    Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of corporate affairs (MCA), and Reserve Bank of India
    (RBI). IBBI act as a regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings and entities such as
    Insolvency Professionals (IP), Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA) and Information
    Utilities (IU) in India. IBC covers Individuals, Companies, Partnership firms and Limited
    Liability Partnerships and handles cases under it using tribunals namely National company
    law tribunal (NCLT) and Debt recovery tribunal (DRT).
    11) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a high-level committee under the
    chairmanship of VG Kannan, Chief Executive of Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to review the
    entire gamut of ATM charges and fees. Key Highlights- Background: There are around 2 lakh
    ATMs in India. At end of April 2019, there were over 88.47 crore debit cards and 4.8 crore
    credit cards in function, and as per RBI data during April only 80.9 crore transactions were
    done through debit cards on ATM. Need: Over the years, uses of ATMs have grown
    significantly and there have been persistent demand of changing ATM charges and fees.
    Thus amid demands for reviewing the levies by bank, RBI constituted high-level committee.
    Constitution: The six member committee chaired by of VG Kannan, will consist of members
    namely- Dilip Asbe (CEO, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)), Giri Kumar Nair
    (CGM, State Bank of India (SBI), Sanjeev Patel (CEO, Tata Communications Payment
    Solutions (TCPSL)), S Sampath Kumar (Group Head, Liability Products, HDFC Bank), and K
    Srinivas (Director, Confederation of ATM Industry (CATMi)). Function: It will examine existing
    patterns of costs, charges and interchange fees by banks for automated teller machines
    (ATMs) transactions. It will review overall patterns of usage of ATMs by cardholders and also
    assess impact (if any) on charges and interchange fees levied by banks. It will assess entire
    range of costs in respect of ATM ecosystem within the country. It will make recommendations
    on optimal charge or interchange fee structure and pattern. Timeframe: It will submit its report
    to RBI within two months from date of its first meeting.
    12) Zonel Sougaijam, a civil engineer from Manipur was included in Facebook Hall of Fame
    2019, for detecting a WhatsApp bug that violated privacy of a user. Key Highlights-
    Facebook, the social media giant honoured 22-year-old Mr. Sougaijam, by including him in
    Facebook Hall of Fame 2019 and also awarded $5000. His name is currently at 16th position
    in a list of 94 people who are included in Facebook Hall of Fame for this year. WhatsApp
    Bug: During a voice call via WhatsApp, the bug instilled used to allow caller to upgrade it to a
    video call even without the authorisation and knowledge of receiver. The WhatsApp caller
    was then able to see what other person on receiving end is doing, thus violating the privacy
    of receiver. Sougaijam discovered this bug and reported the matter in March 2019 to Bug
    Bounty Program of Facebook, which deals with matters of violation privacy. The Facebook
    Security team acknowledged his report and its technical department fixed the bug within 15-
    20 days. Facebook, the social media giant is owned by Mark Zuckerberg, who purchased
    WhatsApp messaging service in February 2014 for a staggerring $19 billion.
    13) S Jaishankar, Union Minister of External Affairs flags off the first batch of pilgrims (yatris)
    from New Delhi, for this years’ Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. The duration of pilgrimage is 24
    days for each batch including 3 days in Delhi for preparatory work. The pilgrimage which
    started in 1981 now sees participation of thousands of devotees every year. About Kailash
    Mansarovar Yatra- The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is undertaken by two routes, via- Lipulekh
    Pass in Uttarakhand– This route passes through a very mountainous area. Nathu La Pass in
    Sikkim– This route opened a few years ago in Sikkim is fully motorable. It requires minimum
    walking and therefore helps senior citizens who are unable to undertake arduous trekking, to
    participate in yatra. Itinerary: The Yatra involves a treacherous route that crosses territorial
    boundaries of India, Nepal and China. According to Yatra scheduled this year, 18 batches of
    60 pilgrims each will trek across the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand and 10 batches consisting
    of 50 pilgrims each will go via the Nathula route to Sikkim. Importance: This pilgrimage plays
    an important step towards promoting people to people exchanges, strengthening friendship
    and understanding between India and China. Organised by: The yatra is organised with
    support from governments of Delhi, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and also with cooperation of
    Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). The Government of China also extended the support in
    organising the annual yatra. The logistical support and facilities for pilgrims in India is
    providea by Uttarakhands’ Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), Sikkim Tourism
    Development Corporation (STDC) and their associated organisations.
    14) A team of scientists from Delhi University (DU) and Wildlife Institute of India (an autonomous
    institution under Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change), in collaboration
    with researchers from the United States and Indonesia, have discovered a new species of
    ‘Paddy Frog’ from Northeast India, primarily in Assam. Key Highlights- Background: The first
    known species of genus Micryletta was originally described from island of Sumatra (in
    Indonesia). As of now, there are only 4 recognised species in this group and newly
    discovered Micryletta aishani becomes the 5th. Nomenclature: The newly discovered species
    has been named Aishani, which is derived from Sanskrit word ‘aishani’ or aisani meaning
    Northeast. Scientists Involved: The study was conducted by Sonali Garg and S D Biju (of
    DU), Abhijit Das (of Wildlife Institute of India) Eric N Smith (from University of Texas, US) and
    Amir Hamidy (from Indonesian Institute of Sciences). Their study was published in PeerJ, a
    peer-reviewed journal. Key Findings: The DNA samples analysed of this species suggested
    that other undescribed species belonging to this genus could be existing in regions such as
    Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Features: The frog belongs to genus Micryletta, (a small genus
    of microhylid frogs). The microhylid genus is a group of narrow-mouthed frogs that are more
    commonly known as paddy frogs and are primarily and widely distributed in Southeast Asia
    (SEA). Characteristics: This new species strikingly differs from other narrow-mouthed paddy
    frogs. Its characteristics includes- its back is reddish-brown in colour, on lateral sides it has
    prominent dark streaks and ash-grey mottling, shape of snout (nose and mouth) is unique,
    and web on its feet is absent. Habitat: Micryletta aishani is currently endemic to Northeast
    India but it could be present in neighbouring regions of Bangladesh and Myanmar also. The
    species was discovered from a degraded forest area in Cachar district of Assam but as per
    the study says it is also present in Tripura and Manipur. Also, it is likely to be more widely
    distributed in Northeast India, particularly Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot region (that lies
    south of Brahmaputra River). To the surprise of researchers the new species is not found far
    from human habitations. Way Ahead: But despite new discoveries, the actual number of frog
    species in Northeast India is much higher than the current estimates.
    15) Thawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment was recently
    appointed as Leader of Rajya Sabha (Council of States). The Leader of the Rajya Sabha is
    appointed by the party in power at Centre. This position was occupied by senior BJP leader
    and former Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley in previous Narendra Modi-led government
    (2014-2019). About Thawarchand Gehlot- The 71-year-old Gehlot, is leader from Madhya
    Pradesh has almost four decades of legislative experience. Apart from being an experienced
    parliamentarian, he is a member & general secretary of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
    He belongs to Scheduled Caste and is a Dalit face of saffron party. He has been a member of
    state legislative assembly for several terms and has also served in Lok Sabha as well as
    Rajya Sabha. He became a Rajya Sabha member in 2012 and was re-elected to Rajya
    Sabha from Madhya Pradesh in 2018. This new term of his will end in 2024. A member to
    Upper House of Parliament has a term of 6 years. Leader of Rajya Sabha (Upper House of
    Parliament)- A Leader of House is a Rajya Sabha member who either holds a rank of cabinet
    minister or another nominated minister. The Leader has a seat next to ex-officio Chairperson
    of Rajya Sabha (the Vice President of India), in the front row. The term Leader of the House
    has been defined in Rule 2(1) of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya
    Sabha. Gopalaswami Ayyangar was the 1st Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha.
    16) The Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP) from Madhya Pradesh Dr
    Virendra Kumar will be the Pro-tem Speaker of 17th Lok Sabha. Key Highlights- The 65 year
    old Virendra Kumar, is a seven-term MP. He won the 17th Lok Sabha election from
    Tikamgarh Lok Sabha constituency. Tikamgarh is one of the 29 parliamentary constituencies
    in Madhya Pradesh. He served as Minister of State (MoS) in previous Narendra Modi
    government (2014-2019). The 1st all-party meet will be convened on 16 June 2019, before
    the 1st session of 17th Lok Sabha that will be held from 17 June to 26 July 2019. Function:
    As Pro-tem Speaker, he will preside over the 1st sitting of newly constituted Lok Sabha,
    administer the oath of office to newly elected MPs, and also oversee the election of LS
    Speaker. In the first week of session of 17th Lok Sabha, the Speaker and the Deputy
    Speaker to Lok Sabha will be elected. About Pro-tem Speaker- The word Pro-tem is a Latin
    phrase which in English means ‘for the time being’ of ‘temporary’. Thus a Pro-tem Speaker
    performs the duties of office of Speaker from commencement of 1st sitting of newly
    constituted Lok Sabha till the election of the Speaker. This is because Speaker of last Lok
    Sabha vacates his office before the 1st meeting of newly elected Lok Sabha. The Article 94
    of constitution states that previous Speaker must resign immediately before 1st sitting of the
    new Lok Sabha. Article 93 of constitution states that, a Speaker and Deputy Speaker to
    Lower House of Parliament must be elected in 1st sitting of Lok Sabha. The appointment of
    Pro tem speaker is a convention and there is no provision mentioned in the Constitution for
    this position. President appoints and administes the oath of a member of Lok Sabha as Pro-
    tem Speaker. By convention a seniormost Lok Sabha member is usually is selected. A Pro-
    tem Speaker has powers same as a Lok Sabha Speaker. His main duty is to administer oath
    to newly elected members of parliament and election of new Speaker. The office of Pro-tem
    Speaker ceases to operate once new Speaker is elected by members.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 08 June 2019 To 14 June 2019.
    17) As per a closely-watched review by United Kingdom (UK) based energy giant BP, titled “The
    BP Statistical Review of World Energy”, the global carbon emissions grew by 2.0% in 2018,
    the highest rate since 2010-2011. BP is a London based, British multinational oil and gas
    company. Key Findings of Study- The study called that the current trend of increasing carbon
    emissions is putting world on an ‘unsustainable’ path. There is a growing mismatch between
    societal demands for action on climate change i.e. for cutting a country’s net greenhouse
    (GHG) emissions to zero and the actual pace of progress being made in the domain. The
    energy demand and carbon emissions are currently growing at their fastest rate for years.
    The global energy demand grew by 2.9%. A part of this rise was met by increasing shale rock
    reserve exploitation in United States (US), which recorded fastest rise of oil and natural gas
    production in world, in recent times. Although the use of renewable forms of energy globally
    grew by 14.5% in 2018 but it still accounted for just 33% of total rise in power generation in
    2018. Significance: The study highlights that a focus on green/renewable forms of energy will
    not be able to achieve net-zero GHG emission targets, rather the governments should to do
    more towards cutting the use of polluting coal and oil. This means that It should not be a race
    to renewables, but a race to reduce carbon emissions across many fronts. About BP
    Statistical Review of World Energy- It is viewed as an energy industry standard. It pools data
    on everything such as from the size of countries’ oil reserves to their production of renewable
    energy and various consumption rates. Global efforts taken for CO2 Emissions- Globally,
    governments are coming under intensifying pressure from campaigners to set deadlines by
    which they will cut their net greenhouse (GHG) emissions to zero. Britain’s top advisory body
    on climate change has recommended that British government must target for cutting their net
    GHG emissions to zero by 2050. This is the same deadline adopted by some other European
    governments. The progressive wing of US Congress is pushing for year 2030 as a deadline
    for US government to cut their net GHG emissions to zero. Although most analysts view this
    target as unattainable and prohibitively expensive to reach.
    18) An 8 year old Indian origin student named Nia Tony was honoured during 22nd edition of
    Emirates Recycling Awards in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). She won the award in the
    paper section in individual category for collecting a total of 14,914 kg of paper waste. Key
    Highlights- Ms. Tony was honoured with Eco Champions of Recycling award for her efforts in
    keeping the environment clean by collecting paper waste. She collected nearly 15,000 kg of
    paper waste in Gulf’s United Arab Emirate (UAE) as part of a nationwide recycling campaign.
    She campaigned around her residency area to collect paper, so that it can be recycled. Every
    week, she used to go out for collecting newspapers, magazines, and other paper that people
    threw away or didn’t wanted to keep. About Emirates Recycling Awards- The campaign was
    organized by the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), a non-governmental professional
    working group based in UAE. The Emirates Recycling Awards were conducted to celebrate
    World Environment Day (observed on 5 June). The event was held under the Patronage and
    in esteemed presence of H.E. Engr. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman
    of Department of Civil Aviation and Honorary member of EEG. Categories: This eco-friendly
    drive in UAE was based on three categories- (1) corporations, (2) academic institutions and
    (3) individuals/families. The materials that were collected during campaign included paper,
    plastic, glass, cans, mobiles, among other items. Significance: Through this nationwide
    recycling campaign, EEG was able to reduce projected carbon emissions by about 73,393
    metric tonnes.
    19) Britain’s Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes won Formula One Canadian Grand Prix 2019 at the
    Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This was Hamilton’s seventh win on
    the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and now made him equalled Michael Schumacher’s record. Key
    Highlights- Lewis Hamilton was followed by Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel of Germany in
    2nd place and Charles Leclerc of Monaco in 3rd place. Hamilton emerged victorious after a
    controversial penalty made by Sebastian Vettel gifted him a milestone win. Penalty:
    Sebastian Vettel made an error on the limit and went off track on lap 48 of circuit, running
    across grass before rejoining and forcing off Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who later emerged
    championship leader and eventual winner. For this he was hit with a 5-second penalty which
    ultimately led to his loss. The next Grand Prix, is scheduled to be run in France on June 23 at
    the Le Castellet raceway. It will be 8th of the 21 that make up world circuit of 2019 FIA
    Formula One World Championship. About 2019 Canadian Grand Prix- It is a Formula One
    motor race held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada. It was 7th round of 2019 FIA
    Formula One World Championship.
    20) The 2019 French Open was the 123rd edition of a Grand Slam tennis tournament. It was held
    from 26 May to 9 June 2019, at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France. It is played on outdoor
    clay courts. The tournament comprises of singles, doubles and mixed doubles play matches.
    Men’s Singles title at French Open tennis- Spain’s Rafael Nadal won a historic 12th Roland
    Garros title or Men’s Singles title at French Open tennis and 18th Grand Slam crown with a 6-
    3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over his opponent Dominic Thiem of Austria. With this win, 33-year-old
    Nadal becomes 1st player, man or woman, to win same Slam 12 times. Spaniard now stands
    just 2 behind Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 majors and 3 ahead of Novak Djokovic
    who was defeated by Dominic in semi-finals of French Open. Nadal, the World Number 2
    took his Paris record to 93 wins and just 2 losses having previously won title in 2005-2008,
    2010-2014, 2017 and 2018. Men’s Doubles title: Andreas Mies & Kevin Krawietz of Germany
    defeated Fabrice Martin & Jérémy Chardy of France in final with in final 6–2, 7–6(7–3) to win
    Men’s Doubles title at French Open tennis. Women’s Singles title- Ashleigh Barty of Australia
    knocked off Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic in final with 6-1, 6-3 to win her 1st
    Women’s Singles title at French Open tennis 2019. Women’s Doubles title- Hungary’s Tímea
    Babos & France’s Kristina Mladenovic defeated Zheng Saisai & Duan Yingying of China in
    final with 6–2, 6–3 to win Women’s Doubles title at French Open tennis. Mixed Doubles title-
    Chinese Taipei’s Latisha Chan & Ivan Dodi goof Croatia defeated Gabriela Dabrowski of
    Canada & Mate Pavić of Croatia in final to win Mixed Doubles title at French Open tennis.
    21) World athletics’ governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)
    will re-brand itself as World Athletics. The rebranding would be operational from October
    2019. Key Highlights- IAAF’s new brand identity as World Athletics will begin its rollout in
    October 2019 following the completion of world championships in Doha, Qatar and after
    congress grants approval of change to federation’s legal name. IAAF Council: The decision
    for rebranding of name was taken at IAAF Council, meeting in Monaco (IAAF’s Headquarter).
    The participants agreed that ‘World Athletics’ made sport more accessible to a wider
    audience at same time while giving global governing body an opportunity to more clearly
    communicate its mission as leader of world’s most participatory sport. The council hopes that
    new brand will help towards attracting and engaging a new generation of young people to
    athletics. World Athletics: The term World Athletics is built upon IAAF’s restructuring and
    governance reform agenda it has undertaken in past four years. It represent a modern, more
    creative and positive face for the sport. About International Association of Athletics
    Federations- The IAAF was initially founded on 17 July 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden, as
    International Amateur Athletic Federation, following the closing ceremony of Olympic Games
    in the Swedish capital. It was founded as world governing body for sport of track and field
    athletics. It took its present name of International Association of Athletics Federations in
    2001. It is currently presided over by Sebastian Coe, two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist
    of Britain, UK. With 215 member federations, IAAF is an international governing body for
    sport of athletics.
    22) India extended a financial aid of 1.6billion Nepalese Rupees (NPR) to Nepal government for
    rebuilding earthquake-hit houses in two district that were most hit. This sustained and
    generous humanitarian support extended by India for post-earthquake reconstruction was
    appreciated by Nepal. Key Highlights- Background: In February 2016, a Memorandum of
    Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and Nepal for grant worth USD 100 Million
    to be provided by India, for supporting reconstruction of 50,000 private houses in two districts
    of Himalayan nation namely Nuwakot and Gorkha that were most damaged in earthquake
    that hit Nepal in 2015. The devastating earthquake which struck Nepal in April 2015, claimed
    more than 9,000 lives and damaged over 800,000 houses. The epicenter of earthquake was
    central Nepal’s Gorkha district. Financial Aid: Manjeev Singh Puri, India’s ambassador to
    Nepal handed over financial aid cheque to Rajan Khanal, Finance Secretary of Nepal for
    undertaking reconstruction work in Himalayan nation. The amount was released towards
    reimbursement of part payment of first and second tranches of housing reconstruction
    extended by Government of India to 50,000 housing beneficiaries in two districts. Importance:
    The move showed that India remained committed to partnership between two nations and
    also to completion of post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Nepal. Other grants by India:
    So far a total of Rs 4.5 billion Nepalese rupees have been granted Nepal to India under
    housing reconstruction projects. India has partnered with United Nations Development
    Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for providing
    socio-technical facilitation to people who lost their houses to ensure that they rebuild their
    homes in accordance with Nepal government’s earthquake resilient norms.
    23) Interim President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, won the country’s snap
    Presidential elections with nearly 71%. He was also the chosen successor of veteran ruler
    and former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev. Key Highlights- After Nursultan Nazarbayev
    resigned from as Presidential post of Kazakhstan in March 2019, the Presidentship was
    transferred to the then Speaker of the Senate (Upper House), Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
    Shortly after assuming the charge of interim President of Kazakhstan, Tokayev in his address
    to nation announced that elections would be conducted earlier than anticipated. Snap
    Election: In recently held snap election, a total of seven candidates ran for Presidency which
    also included Daniya Yespayeva, the first woman candidate to do so in country’s history. The
    voter turnout in elections was 77.4% and Tokayev’s nearest rival Amirzhan Kosanov of
    United National Patriotic Movement (‘Ult Tagdyry’) received about 16% of votes. Significance:
    For the first time in almost thirty years, the Kazakh presidential elections held in 2019 paved
    the way for a new candidate coming to power. Tokayev’s predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev
    was serving as Kazakh President since the independence of country in 1992 until his
    resignation in March 2019.
    24) The renowned playwright, actor and Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad died at the age of 81 at
    his residence in Bengaluru, Karnataka. He succumbed to multiple-organ failure. To honour
    the well-known writer who brought 7th Jnanpith to Kannada, Karnataka Government declared
    a holiday for schools and colleges and a 3-day State mourning as a tribute. About Girish
    Karnad- He was born in May 1938. He became one of the most prominent theatre
    personalities in priod of 1960s and 1970s, which was regarded as Renaissance of Indian
    theatre. Playwright: He wrote his first play Yayati in 1961 when he was a Rhodes scholar
    (world’s oldest fellowship program) in England, UK. He worked with mythology, history and
    gave them a contemporary resonance in plays like Tughlaq and Hayavadana. He translated
    most of his plays himself. His last play was Rakshasa Tangadi, (a Kannada play on the Battle
    of Talikota) which was published in 2018. Director and Actor: he made his acting debut in the
    classic movie- Samskara. He made his name not only in parallel cinema but was also
    celebrated for his roles in mainstream films in multiple languages. He directed around 12
    films and documentaries in Kannada and Hindi. Awards: He was recipient of Padma Shri
    (1974) for his contributions to theatre and Padma Bhushan (1992) in recognition of his
    contributions to arts. He was also conferred Jnanpith Award in 1998.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 08 June 2019 To 14 June 2019.
    25) With commencement of annual festival of Kheer Bhawani Mela on Zeasht Ashtami, hundreds
    of Kashmiri Pandit devotees prayed at famous Ragnya Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir’s
    (J&K) Ganderbal district. An elaborate security arrangement was made by J&K administration
    so that mela passed off peacefully for devotees who thronged temple from across the
    country. Key Highlights- Every year on Zyeshta Ashtami (this year fell on 10 June),
    thousands of Kashmiri Pandits visit temple, located about 14 km east of Srinagar, to pay their
    obeisance. Zyestha Ashtami is celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits across the country and
    outside as the day marks commencing of annual pilgrimage. Temples Visited: Over 60,000
    displaced Kashmiri Pandits from various parts of India as well as abroad visited five famous
    temples of Tulmulla (in Ganderbal district), Tikker (in Kupwara), Laktipora Aishmuqam (in
    Anantnag) and Mata Tripursundri Devsar and Mata Kheerbhawani Manzgam (in Kulgam
    district) in Kashmir valley during Mela Kheerbhawani. About Mela Kheer Bhawani: It is one of
    the biggest religious functions of displaced community of Kashmiri Pandits, who were
    forcefully evicted from Valley in 1990s by militants. The devotees carry rose petals, walk
    barefoot, offer tribute to goddess and offer milk and kheer (pudding) at sacred spring. Belief:
    The colour of water in spring, which flows below temple, is believed to be an indication of the
    valley’s well-being i.e. the colour foretells the events that will unfold in next 12 months till next
    festival. Black or darkish colour of water in spring is believed to be a sign of inauspicious
    times for Kashmir valley. This time, the water in spring was of clean and milky white colour.
    Significance: The pilgrimage has become a symbol of communal harmony and brotherhood
    as Muslims in locality make all kinds of arrangements for the Kashmiri Pandits devotees,
    such as setting up of stalls for flowers and other offerings, offering milk in small earthen pots
    to devotees coming to pray.
    26) Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs participated in G20
    Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors and associated events during 8-9
    June 2019 held at southwestern city of Fukuoka, Japan. Key Highlights- This meeting took
    place alongside with G20 Ministerial meet on Trade and Digital Economy (on 8-9 June 2019)
    at Tsukuba city, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Features: It aimed towards forging consensus on
    range of issues to be endorsed by leaders who will be meeting in late June in Osaka, Japan.
    The meet also focused on current situation in global economy and current trade and
    technology dispute between US and China. Besides this participants also discussed issues
    related to tax challenges for addressing digitalisation of economy, ways for improving taxation
    and measures to ensure sustainable growth. India at G20: Smt. Sitharaman, Union Finance
    Minister of India noted the urgency of fixing issue of determining right nexus and profit
    allocation solution for taxing profits made by digital economy companies, as with each
    passing day the work on tax challenges arising from digitalisation of economy is entering a
    critical phase. India strongly supported that potential solution to aforementioned problem
    should be based on concept of significant economic presence of businesses, by taking into
    account evidence of their purposeful and sustained interaction with economy of country in
    question. This concept was piloted by India and had been supported by large number of
    countries including G-24. Union Finance Minister expressed confidence that a consensus-
    based global solution that should also be equitable and simple, would be reached by 2020.
    India welcomed the beginning of Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information
    (AEOI) on a global basis, which was used by over 90 jurisdictions in 2018 for successfully
    exchanging information. This move would ensure that tax evaders could no more hide their
    offshore financial accounts from tax administration. India urged global forum of G20 to further
    expand network of AEOI by identifying jurisdictions including developing countries as well as
    financial centers that are relevant but have not yet committed to any timeline. To address the
    need for taking appropriate action against non-compliant jurisdictions, India called upon
    international community to agree on a toolkit of defensive measures that can be taken
    against such non-compliant jurisdictions. India also raised need for international cooperation
    on dealing with fugitive economic offenders (FEO) who flee their countries to escape from
    consequences of law and urged all member states to draw closer collaboration and
    coordinated action so as to bring such economic offenders to face law. About G20: G20 (or
    Group of 20) was formed on 26 September 1999 as meeting of Finance Ministers and Central
    Bank Governors of member states in aftermath of Southeast Asian (Tiger economies)
    financial crisis. Since its inception group has played a key role in responding to global
    financial crisis situations. In 2008, 1st G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in Washington DC,
    United States. Members: includes 19 countries and European Union (EU) which collectively
    representing two-third of world’s population, 85% of global GDP and 80% of international
    trade. The 19 countries are India, China, Japan, Russia, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada,
    France, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, US, South
    Africa and United Kingdom. Function: It is premier forum for international economic
    cooperation, decision-making and deliberations on global economic issues and other
    development challenges faced by its member nations. Even though there are no binding
    commitments in G20, it sets agenda for multilateral trade relations.
    27) India’s leading civil services training institution, National Center for Good Governance
    (NCGG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Maldives Civil Services
    Commission for capacity building (training) of 1,000 civil servants of Maldives over next five
    years. This agreement was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Male
    (Maldives capital). Key Highlights- Background: In April 2019, NCGG had trained 28 Maldives
    civil servants, thus this successful engagement encouraged two countries to enter into an
    agreement and take their capacity building collaboration forward. Other than Maldives, NCCG
    had also successfully conducted training programmes for civil servants of Bangladesh,
    Myanmar and Gambia. Expenses: All expenses of training programme will be borne by Union
    Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Nodal Agency: As per the MoU, NCGG will be nodal
    institution for designing and implementation of customised training modules that will be
    undertaken during training, and it must take into account all requirements of Maldives Civil
    Services Commission. Training Areas: The training programme areas will include: public
    policy and governance, public administration, information technology (IT), e-governance and
    service delivery, agro-based practices, best practices in fisheries in coastal areas, urban
    development and planning, self-help group (SHG) initiatives, ethics in administration and
    challenges in implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Selection: Maldives
    will nominate suitable civil servants in senior/executive/middle management levels as per the
    agreed timelines. Civil Services Training Institute, a subsidiary of Maldives Civil Services
    Commission, will get the required assistance from NCGG, for developing training
    programmes and materials and also for organising exchange of experts as needed by
    Commission.
    28) According to a notification issued by Union Ministry of Culture, Chaukhandi Stupa, an ancient
    Buddhist site located in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has been declared as ‘protected area of
    national importance’ by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). For declaring the stupa as
    protected area government sought public feedback on 8 March 2019 for a period of two
    months. About Chaukhandi  Stupa- Name: The Stupa is known as ‘Chaukhandi’ becaause of
    its four armed plan. The stupa is an ancient Buddhist site which evolved from burial mounds
    and served as a shrine for a relic of Buddha. It appears to be in ruins and was originally
    constructed in 5th Century AD. It also finds mention in account of Hiuen Tsang, celebrated
    Chinese traveler of 7th century AD. Architecture: It is widely belived that Stupa was originally
    built as a terraced temple during Gupta period (4th-6th centuries AD) to mark the site where
    Lord Buddha traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath was reunited with panchavargiya bhikshus
    (Budhha’s five companions) who had previously deserted him at Rajgir. After Gupta’s the
    stupa’s architecture was altered by Govardhan, son of Raja Todarmal, who modified stupa to
    its present shape by building an octagonal tower in commemoration of Humayun (Mughal
    ruler) visit. Current Structure: Stupa is a high earthen mound covered with brickwork, to which
    stands atop a terraced rectangular plinth and it is capped by an octagonal Mughal tower. It is
    maintained, conserved and preserved by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Art: Some
    images of Buddha, such as the image of buddha in dharmachakra pravartana mudra and
    other statues found during excavations at this Stupa are believed to be rare artefacts and
    classic examples of art from Gupta period.
    29) India and Portugal will cooperate in setting up of a national maritime heritage museum at
    ancient Indian site of Lothal in Gujarat. Lothal (literally means the mound of dead) was one of
    port cities of Indus Valley Civilization (Harappan Civilization). Key Highlights- Background: In
    March 2019 Government of India allocated a grant for building maritime museum and
    foundation stone for project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Then during
    Portuguese Defence Minister João Gomes Cravinho visit to India in April 2019, initial
    discussions were held between India and Portugal for developing maritime museum. Feature:
    The proposed maritime museum in Indian is likely to come up on lines of similar museum at
    Lisbon, which is administered by Portuguese Navy. Implementing agencies: Museum Project
    will be implemented by Union Ministry of Shipping through its Sagarmala programme, along
    with involvement of State government, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and other
    stakeholders. Indian Navy is also keen to be a stakeholder in project and Portuguese Navy
    has agreed to assist the former with their experience of administering maritime museum in
    Lisbon. Purpose: It will showcase and preserve India’s rich and diverse maritime heritage. It
    also seeks to highlight ancient shipbuilding and navigational technologies developed by India.
    Why Portugal? Portugal is home to the Navy Museum (a maritime museum) in Lisbon, which
    is administered by Portugal Navy. So the two countries discussed that India could also follow
    the similar mode. Soon a Defence Ministry-led delegation would also be visiting Portugal to
    study existing museum in Lisbon.
    30) Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena gifted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a
    Samadhi Buddha statue (Buddha in meditation posture), during latter’s visit to Island nation.
    Key Highlights- Prime Minister Modi arrived in Sri Lanka for a day-long visit, during which he
    met with President Sirisena and discussed bilateral issues of mutual interest. His visit is
    considered as a sign of India’s affirmation of solidarity with island nation in aftermath of the
    deadly Easter terror attacks in April 2019. PM Modi is first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka
    after Easter attacks. About Samadhi Buddha Statue- The masterpiece replica of Samadhi
    Buddha statue presented to PM Modi has been hand carved using white teak and took
    almost two years to complete. This is considered to be one of best sculptures of
    Anuradhapura era (377 BC to 1017 AD) which is the first established kingdom in ancient Sri
    Lanka. The original statue was sculptured between 4th to 7th centuries AD. The Prime
    Minister’s Office (PMO) called the Samadhi Buddha statue as ‘special gift from special friend’.
    31) Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena gifted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a
    Samadhi Buddha statue (Buddha in meditation posture), during latter’s visit to Island nation.
    Key Highlights- Prime Minister Modi arrived in Sri Lanka for a day-long visit, during which he
    met with President Sirisena and discussed bilateral issues of mutual interest. His visit is
    considered as a sign of India’s affirmation of solidarity with island nation in aftermath of the
    deadly Easter terror attacks in April 2019. PM Modi is first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka
    after Easter attacks. About Samadhi Buddha Statue- The masterpiece replica of Samadhi
    Buddha statue presented to PM Modi has been hand carved using white teak and took
    almost two years to complete. This is considered to be one of best sculptures of
    Anuradhapura era (377 BC to 1017 AD) which is the first established kingdom in ancient Sri
    Lanka. The original statue was sculptured between 4th to 7th centuries AD. The Prime
    Minister’s Office (PMO) called the Samadhi Buddha statue as ‘special gift from special friend’.
    32) Imports from Pakistan to India have declined by 92% amounting to USD 2.84 Million in March
    2019 after imposition of 200% customs duties on all products. The strong economic action
    against Pakistan was taken following Pulwama terror attack. Key Highlights- Background: On
    February 2019, in aftermath of Pulwama terror attack for which Pakistan based JeM terror
    group claimed responsibility, India revoked the MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status given to
    Pakistan. This further led to strong economic action against Pakistan such as India raised
    customs duty to 200% on all goods imported from Pakistan. During 2018-19 fiscal year for
    January-March period, the imports from Pakistan declined by 47%, about USD 53.65 Million.
    India’s Export: In March 2019, India’s exports to Pakistan also dipped by about 32%
    amounting to over USD171 million. However, Indian exports grew by 7.4% (over USD 2
    billion) during 2018-19. Commodities Imported: India raised 200% custom duty on goods
    imported from neighbouring country, including cotton, fresh fruits, cement, petroleum
    products and mineral. But the main commodities imported during month of March 2019 from
    Pakistan includes knitted fabrics, wool, articles of apparel and clothing, preparation of
    vegetables spices, chemicals, man-made filaments, and plastics. Exception: As per some
    experts, keeping in mind that importing goods at 200% customs duties would not be viable for
    anyone, thus government has allowed few domestic manufacturing exporters to avail Nil(0%)
    import duty benefit under Advance Authorisation Scheme to import products, especially raw
    materials from Pakistan. About Most Favoured Nation Status- Under the MFN pact, a World
    Trade Organisation (WTO) member country is obliged to treat other trading nation (to whom it
    has granted MFN status) in a non-discriminatory manner, especially with regard to customs
    duty and other levies. The MFN status was granted by India to Pakistan in 1996, but India
    was not granted the same from Pakistan.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 08 June 2019 To 14 June 2019.
    33) The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cabinet adopted a National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031
    during its meeting at Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi (UAE Capital). About National Strategy
    for Wellbeing 2031- Objectives: The strategy has two pronged objectives as follows: To
    make UAE a world leader in quality of life by undertaking various strategic objectives and
    initiatives. To promote an integrated concept of wellbeing, thereby supporting vision of UAE
    Vision 2021 and UAE Centennial 2071. Focus: on strengthening family ties and working
    towards improving quality of life in cities across country so as to attract more residents to
    those areas. End goal: of 12-year strategy is a developed country, a cohesive society and
    prosperous individuals. Chairman: It will be chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al
    Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Salient Features- Levels:
    National Wellbeing Strategy is based on a national framework of three main levels-
    Individuals, Society and the Country. Components: It includes 14 key areas and 9 strategic
    objectives, which includes enhancing people’s wellbeing by promoting healthy & active
    lifestyles and good mental health and adopting positive thinking. Under the strategy 90 new
    projects will be launched that will target more than 40 priority areas and will improve physical,
    psychological and digital health of future generations. National Wellbeing Observatory: One
    of the most important initiatives in wellbeing strategy is development of first National
    Wellbeing Observatory, which will support policymaking process. Tasks undertaken by
    observatory will include: monitoring a number of indicators of wellbeing in UAE, submitting
    regular reports to UAE Cabinet, proposing training programmes for government employees
    and will launch Academy of Wellbeing future generations. In addition to this observatory is
    also charged with formation of a National Wellbeing Council to manage and coordinate
    national strategy.
    34) Prime Minister Modi was conferred with Maldives’ highest honour- ‘Order of the Distinguished
    Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen‘ in Male, (Maldives capital) during his two-day state visit to the
    island country. The prestigious award of Most Honourable Order of the Distinguished Rule of
    Nishan Izzuddeen is Maldive’s highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries. India-Maldives
    Relation- Background: Maldives is a valued partner of India with whom it shares deep bonds
    of history and culture. In February 2018, relations between India and Maldives deteriorated
    after the then President Abdulla Yameen took certain decisions which did not go down well
    with New Delhi such as imposing emergency, impositing restrictions on work visas for Indians
    and signing of a new Free Trade Agreement with Beijing. However, ties were restored under
    the incumbent Solih’s presidency. Recent Visit to Maldives: Although PM Modi visited
    Maldives in November 2018 to attend President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih‘s swearing-in, but
    the current visit is the first by an Indian prime minister at a bilateral level in past eight years.
    The two-day state visit undertaken by PM Modi was aimed at further cementing ties with
    Indian Ocean archipelago. Two countries held delegation-level talks as well as signed a slew
    of agreements to strengthen bilateral ties in a number of key areas including defence. India’s
    concern: China views Maldives as key to its Maritime Silk Road (MSR) project in Indian
    Ocean Region (IOR) for which China has already acquired Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and
    Djibouti in Horn of Africa. Thus to keep check on China’s ambitious expansion in IOR, India
    needs to continue its good relations and partnership with its neighboring countries having
    strategic importance in IOR.
    35) G20 Ministerial meeting on Trade and Digital Economy is being held from 8 June- 9 June
    2019 in Japanese city of Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Tsukuba is Japan’s one of main
    academic and research centers. Key Highlights- Background: Japan has assumed its 1st
    ever rotating presidency in G20 thus a series of various ministerial meetings are being held in
    Japanese cities in 2019. Japan’s presidency will be culminating during G20 summit in Osaka
    on 28-29 June 2019. Chairman: Two day meet was chaired by Masatoshi Ishida, Japanese
    Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications and Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy,
    Trade and Industry. Objective: to discuss how economies of G20 countries can promote trade
    and investment and maximize benefits from development of digital economy and
    technologies so as to ensure sustainable growth of global economy. Feature: Over 50 Trade
    and Digital Economy Ministers got together for 1st time in G20 history in Tsukuba, Japan.
    G20 Trade Ministers deliberations will form part of G20 Summit Leaders agenda in formal
    discussions and will also be a part of Summit Declaration. The meet discussed importance of
    Digitalization that is expected to continue to create benefits for economies and societies as a
    whole and will also help achieve inclusive, innovative and human-centred future society
    ‘Society 5.0’. Discussions: Issues related to free trade dominated discussion in meeting
    against backdrop of ongoing trade war between United States (US) and China and US
    President Donald Trump’s policy of creating trade barriers and imposing tariffs. Ways to
    reorder trade rules and finances in an era of technological change and protectionism were
    also discussed. India and G20 Meet- Background: Ever since G20 was founded in 1999,
    India has been actively participating in its meetings. Indian delegation for G20 Ministerial
    meeting on Trade and Digital Economy is being led by Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of
    Commerce and Industry & Railways. Discussion: Indian Commerce Minister will discuss
    developments in World Trade Organisation (WTO) matters, global trade situation, Digital
    trade and will also hold dialogue with other participating Trade Ministers on issues related to
    current international trade and investments. Significance: This is for first time that Ministers of
    Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Union Ministry of
    Commerce (MCA) will participate in a joint session on Digital Economy at G20 Ministerial
    Meeting.
    36) The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    has extended service of Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha for a further period of three
    months. This was third extension given to IAS officer Sinha, whose tenure was increased by
    one-year each in 2017 and 2018. This exceeds term of four year cap for total term of Cabinet
    Secretary mandated under All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958.
    However, to allow extension of PK Sinha’s beyond four year term Government has amended
    these rules. New Rules- It has inserted subrule 1A under rule 16 of All India Services (Death-
    Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958. It provides that Central Government may in public
    interest give an extension in service for a further period, not exceeding three months, beyond
    the period of four years to the Cabinet Secretary. About Cabinet Secretariat- It functions
    directly under the Prime Minister. It is allocated business under Government of India
    (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. It provides Secretarial assistance to Cabinet and
    Cabinet Committees and Rules of Business. Cabinet Secretary is administrative head of
    Cabinet Secretariat. Functions: (i) It is responsible for administration of Government of India
    (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 and Government of India (Transaction of Business)
    Rules, 1961. Thus, it facilitates smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments. (ii)
    It also assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-ministerial coordination,
    irons out differences amongst Ministries/Departments and evolving consensus. (iii) It
    manages major crisis situations in the country. Cabinet Secretary: He is administrative head
    of Cabinet Secretariat. He is also ex-officio Chairman of Civil Services Board. He is the top-
    most executive official and senior-most civil servant (mainly for IAS cadre) of the Government
    of India. N R Pillai was the first cabinet secretary of independent India and served from
    February 6, 1950 to May 13, 1953. Y N Sukthankar had served as cabinet secretary for
    longest duration from May 14, 1953 to July 31, 1957.
    37) The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    has extended service of Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha for a further period of three
    months. This was third extension given to IAS officer Sinha, whose tenure was increased by
    one-year each in 2017 and 2018. This exceeds term of four year cap for total term of Cabinet
    Secretary mandated under All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958.
    However, to allow extension of PK Sinha’s beyond four year term Government has amended
    these rules. New Rules- It has inserted subrule 1A under rule 16 of All India Services (Death-
    Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958. It provides that Central Government may in public
    interest give an extension in service for a further period, not exceeding three months, beyond
    the period of four years to the Cabinet Secretary. About Cabinet Secretariat- It functions
    directly under the Prime Minister. It is allocated business under Government of India
    (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. It provides Secretarial assistance to Cabinet and
    Cabinet Committees and Rules of Business. Cabinet Secretary is administrative head of
    Cabinet Secretariat. Functions: (i) It is responsible for administration of Government of India
    (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 and Government of India (Transaction of Business)
    Rules, 1961. Thus, it facilitates smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments. (ii)
    It also assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-ministerial coordination,
    irons out differences amongst Ministries/Departments and evolving consensus. (iii) It
    manages major crisis situations in the country. Cabinet Secretary: He is administrative head
    of Cabinet Secretariat. He is also ex-officio Chairman of Civil Services Board. He is the top-
    most executive official and senior-most civil servant (mainly for IAS cadre) of the Government
    of India. N R Pillai was the first cabinet secretary of independent India and served from
    February 6, 1950 to May 13, 1953. Y N Sukthankar had served as cabinet secretary for
    longest duration from May 14, 1953 to July 31, 1957.
    38) China launched a space rocket named “Long March 11” from a mobile launch platform in
    Yellow Sea off Shandong province (China) for the first time. With this China became 3rd
    nation following the U.S. and Russia to successfully demonstrate ability to launch satellites
    into orbit from a floating platform. Key Highlights- Background: In 2003, China became only
    3rd nation to have capability of launching humans into space and in early 2019 became 1st
    nation to land a rover on far side of moon. The Long March rocket first flew in 2015, and this
    was its 7th launch but was China’s first attempt at an offshore launch of rocket into Earth
    orbit. About: The Long March 11 rocket was launched by China from a ship deployed in
    Yellow Sea, making it first time that China has tested a launch vehicle at sea. This maiden
    sea launch by China has now unveiled its ambitious plans to build a research base on lunar
    surface, send a probe to Mars and build a space station in Earth orbit in coming future. Also,
    China now spends more than Russia and Japan on its civil and military space programmes.
    Payload: The space rocket carried 2 experimental satellites (named Bufeng-1A and Bufeng-
    1B) and 5 commercial ones. Advantages: Launching rockets from sea has a number of
    advantages over land-based rocket launches, like ability to send off rockets from a variety of
    locations on Earth, and benefit of reduced costs and risks (as rocket can lift off closer to
    equator,). Significance: With sea launches, China now has ability to deploy satellites from a
    mobile platform and is latest step in China’s push to become a major space power.
    Importance: This successful launch marks another win for Beijing’s space programme and
    opened a new launching mode for China to enter space quickly.
    39) The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has comprehensively extended
    ambit of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) to all land holding eligible farmer
    families who will avail benefits under the scheme (but subject to existing exclusion factor).
    The revised scheme is expected to cover around 2 crore more farmers and increase total
    coverage of PM-KISAN to around 14.5 crore beneficiaries. It also costs Central Government
    around Rs. 87,217.50 crores for year 2019-20. Key Features of PM-KISAN- It was
    announced in interim Budget for the year 2019-2020 and launched on 24th February 2019 in
    Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh where the first rounds of instalments was paid to several farmers.
    It provides beneficiary farmers income support of Rs. 6000. This amount is released in three
    four (quaterly)-monthly instalments of Rs.2000 each over the year. It is credited directly into
    the bank accounts of the beneficiaries held in destination banks through Direct Benefit
    Transfer mode. The previsions criteria for small and marginal landholder farmer families to
    avail this benefit was cultivable land holding upto 2 hectare across the country. So far, 1st
    instalment to 3.11 crore beneficiaries and 2nd instalment to 2.66 crore beneficiaries have
    been credited directly to the bank accounts of the farmer families.
    40) The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Pradhan Mantri
    Kisan Pension Yojana, a new Central Sector Scheme (CSS), to provide pension cover to
    farmers. This decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting after formation of new
    Government (second term) of Modi Government. Key Features of Scheme- It is voluntary and
    contributory pension scheme for all Small and Marginal Farmers (SMF) across the country.
    Eligibility: Entry age of 18 to 40 years with provision of minimum fixed pension of Rs.3,000 on
    attaining the age of 60 years. Contribution: Beneficiary farmer of this scheme is required to
    contribute Rs 100 per month at median entry age of 29 years. Central Government will also
    contribute to Pension Fund an equal amount as contributed by eligible farmer. After
    subscriber’s death (while receiving pension), spouse of SMF beneficiary is entitled to receive
    50% of pension received by beneficiary as family pension, provided he/she is not already an
    SMF beneficiary of this scheme. In case of death of subscriber happens during period of
    contribution, the spouse shall have the option of continuing scheme by paying regular
    contribution. Synergy between PM Kisan Scheme: Beneficiary farmers of this scheme can
    opt to allow his/her monthly contribution to be made from benefits drawn from Pradhan Mantri
    KisanSAmman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme directly. Alternatively, beneficiary farmer can pay
    his monthly contribution by registering through Common Service Centres (CSCs) under
    Union Ministry of Information and Technology (MeitY).
    41) Union Cabinet has approved new initiative (scheme) to control Foot and Mouth Disease
    (FMD) and Brucellosis to support the livestock rearing farmers and improve the health of
    animals. Key Features of Scheme- Objective: This initiative aims to fully control these
    diseases amongst livestock in the country in next five years and subsequently eradicate
    these diseases. Cabinet has cleared a total outlay of Rs. 13,343 crores for this scheme and
    entire cost will be now borne by Central Government. In case of FMD: It envisages
    vaccination coverage to 30 crore bovines (cows-bulls and buffaloes) and 20 crore sheep/goat
    and 1 crore pigs at six months’ interval along with primary vaccination in bovine calves.
    Brucellosis control programme: It will extend to cover 100% vaccination coverage of 3.6 crore
    female calves. Significance: It will benefit crores of livestock rearing farmers and improve
    health of animals. Threat of FMD and Brucellosis- These diseases are very common amongst
    the livestock – cow-bulls, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs etc. If cow/buffalo gets infected with
    FMD, it results in milk loss is upto 100% which could last for four to six months. In case of
    Brucellosis milk output reduces by 30%, during entire life cycle of animal. It also causes
    infertility amongst animals. It can also be transmitted to the farm workers and livestock
    owners. Both of these diseases have direct negative impact on trade of milk and other
    livestock products.
    42) Indian Air Force (IAF) signed Rs.300 crore deal with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense
    Systems, an Israeli defence firm to procure a batch of SPICE 2000 guided bombs. Key
    Highlights- The order for bombs was placed under Special Financial Powers given by
    government to armed forces for emergency purchases. The bombs are expected to be
    supplied within next three months. IAF used SPICE bombs for a non-military, pre-emptive
    strike on terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s
    Balakot region on February 2019. This Indian strike on JeM camp was conducted 12 days
    after JeM claimed responsibility for suicide attack on CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s
    Pulwama region in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed. Background- Following Pulwama
    attack in February 2019, government granted emergency powers to all three defence
    services (Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy) for procuring weapons and military
    hardware so as to enhance their operational preparedness along border with Pakistan.
    Government also eased certain rules to cut delays in military purchase such as allowing three
    services to procure required weapons and equipment from a single vendor. About SPICE
    2000- The SPICE stands for Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective. It is guidance and
    maneuvering kit manufactured by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. SPICE can
    overcome errors in locating target, GPS jamming and also reduces collateral damage. SPICE
    kit adds a sophisticated guidance system that consists of satellite guidance, inertial
    navigation and electro-optical sensors which can be used for pinpoint accuracy and adds
    control fins to a conventional unguided bomb (called as free-fall bomb/gravity bomb). It is
    reportedly biggest conventional bomb that can be delivered by IAF and is used on French-
    origin Mirage-2000 jets. The SPICE kit has two variants SPICE-1000 kit and SPICE-2000 kit.
    These two are difficult to detect by most ground-based radars. SPICE-1000: meant for 500kg
    bombs and has glide range of about 100km. SPICE-2000: meant for 1,000kg bombs and has
    a glide range of about 60km.
    43) The African Union (AU) suspended Sudan until establishment of a civilian-led transition to
    democracy and also demanded to resolve an entrenched and bloody crisis. The decision was
    taken at AU’s peace and Security Council meet in Addis Ababa, (Ethiopia’s capital). Key
    Highlights- Background: Since December 2018 Sudan has been rocked with anger over
    increasing bread prices and shortages, which then turned into protests against Omar al-
    Bashir (7th President of Sudan) and culminated in military removing him after a three-decade
    rule where he became a pariah in eyes of Western world. The military leadership then took
    control of Sudan after ouster of Omar in April 2019, but it had failed to hand over power to
    civilians. Trigger: The call for action to be taken by African Union was mounted after recent
    military crackdown on protesters campaigning outside Army headquarters in Khartoum
    (Sudan’s Capital) killed dozens of individuals. As per a doctors’ group around 40 bodies were
    pulled from rive Nile, taking the total toll to at least 108. Thus African Union’s Peace and
    Security Council with immediate effect suspended participation of Sudan in all AU activities
    until effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority, as only way to allow
    Republic of Sudan to exit from current crisis. This move by AU intensifies global pressure on
    Sudan’s new military leaders to stand down after witnessing worst violence since Bashir’s fall.
    AU also urged foreign powers to refrain from interference in Sudan’s affairs. The decision of
    AU in Sudan was by endorsed European Union (EU). About African Union (AU)- It was
    established in 2002. It is a continental union with headquarter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
    Members: 55 countries located on African continent (expect territories possessed by
    European located in Africa). The highest decision-making organ of AU is Assembly of African
    Union, a semi-annual meeting of heads of state and government of its member states. AU’s
    secretariat, called African Union Commission is based in Addis Ababa. Official bodies within
    AU, includes AU Peace and Security Council and the Pan-African Parliament (a
    representative body). Some of AU’s Objective is- promoting unity and solidarity among
    African States; coordinating and intensifing cooperation for development; safeguarding
    sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States and promoting international cooperation
    within framework of United Nations (UN).
    44) The Women Sangams (groups) of Deccan Development Society (DDS) were honoured with
    Equator Prize 2019 by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for their contribution
    to ecology and innovations in rainfed millet cultivation. Key Highlights- The Equator Prize
    2019 was awarded to six women farmer belonging to Deccan Development Society (DDS)
    sanghams. They became only Indian group to have won 2019 award. Although women
    working with DDS sanghams are mostly non-literate, dalit, and under-privileged yet more
    than three decades of their work in farming sector following age-old practices is now being
    recognized globally. Achievement: They were awarded in recognition of efforts of building
    their own seed banks and growing millets in predominantly rain-fed villages of Sangareddy
    district, Telangana. Their effort showcased an outstanding example of a local, nature-based
    solution to climate change and sustainable development. To mark their achievement DDS
    felicitated women for their contribution to ecology and innovations in rainfed millet cultivation.
    About Deccan Development Society- It is Indian agriculture based Non-Governmental
    Organisation (NGO) in Medak district in Telangana. It was founded in 1983 and since then
    works towards various crop improvement programs and activities helping local farmers. Since
    decades DDS has been offering a global solution to climate change, a crisis being faced
    worldwide. Significance: Women belonging to DDS have been working relentlessly for past
    three decades to protect environment by following their traditional methods and systems. This
    has helped in ensuring food security and achieving food sovereignty. Their efforts have
    proved that gender and caste discrimination will not come in way of achieving self-reliance
    and autonomy. The women have ensured food security and have achieved food sovereignty.
    About Equator Prize- The award was established in 2002. Since its inception, out of a total
    223 awards, only 9 awards have been bagged by India so far. It is awarded biennially by
    Equator Initiative of UNDP in recognition of community efforts to reduce poverty via
    conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The winners are selected by independent
    Technical Advisory Committee of UN and are awarded US$10,000. In 2019, United Nations
    (UN) received a total of 847 nominations from over 127 countries. Out of them, only 20 were
    given this prestigious award, including DDS Sangams women too.
    45) The Women Sangams (groups) of Deccan Development Society (DDS) were honoured with
    Equator Prize 2019 by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for their contribution
    to ecology and innovations in rainfed millet cultivation. Key Highlights- The Equator Prize
    2019 was awarded to six women farmer belonging to Deccan Development Society (DDS)
    sanghams. They became only Indian group to have won 2019 award. Although women
    working with DDS sanghams are mostly non-literate, dalit, and under-privileged yet more
    than three decades of their work in farming sector following age-old practices is now being
    recognized globally. Achievement: They were awarded in recognition of efforts of building
    their own seed banks and growing millets in predominantly rain-fed villages of Sangareddy
    district, Telangana. Their effort showcased an outstanding example of a local, nature-based
    solution to climate change and sustainable development. To mark their achievement DDS
    felicitated women for their contribution to ecology and innovations in rainfed millet cultivation.
    About Deccan Development Society- It is Indian agriculture based Non-Governmental
    Organisation (NGO) in Medak district in Telangana. It was founded in 1983 and since then
    works towards various crop improvement programs and activities helping local farmers. Since
    decades DDS has been offering a global solution to climate change, a crisis being faced
    worldwide. Significance: Women belonging to DDS have been working relentlessly for past
    three decades to protect environment by following their traditional methods and systems. This
    has helped in ensuring food security and achieving food sovereignty. Their efforts have
    proved that gender and caste discrimination will not come in way of achieving self-reliance
    and autonomy. The women have ensured food security and have achieved food sovereignty.
    About Equator Prize- The award was established in 2002. Since its inception, out of a total
    223 awards, only 9 awards have been bagged by India so far. It is awarded biennially by
    Equator Initiative of UNDP in recognition of community efforts to reduce poverty via
    conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The winners are selected by independent
    Technical Advisory Committee of UN and are awarded US$10,000. In 2019, United Nations
    (UN) received a total of 847 nominations from over 127 countries. Out of them, only 20 were
    given this prestigious award, including DDS Sangams women too.
    46) Eminent historian and writer Romila Thapar has been elected as international member of
    American Philosophical Society (APS) at its Annual Spring Meeting. About Romila Thapar-
    She is Professor Emerita of history at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi. She is
    renowned for her careful scholarship on emperor Aśoka, epigraphy of Mauryan period, and
    ground-breaking studies and multiple historiographies surrounding contested Hindu and
    Muslim history of Somnath. She not only embraced contemporary philosophical debates,
    producing a model of open-minded and inclusive history but also advanced both theory and
    practice of Indian historiography. Dr. Thapar was among 1,013 members elected to APS at
    its spring 2019 meeting. Her APS citation reads- ‘she is the greatest living historian of India’.
    About American Philosophical Society- It is the oldest learned society in United States (US).
    It was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin (American polymath and one of Founding
    Fathers of US) for purpose of ‘promoting useful knowledge.’ It provides a forum for free
    exchange of ideas while holding conviction that intellectual inquiry and critical thought are
    inherently in best interest of public.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 08 June 2019 To 14 June 2019.
    47) Russia’s annual Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is being held from
    6-8 June 2019. It is an annual international forum that discusses key economic issues facing
    Russia, emerging markets and world at large stage. The Saint Petersburg is Russia’s former
    imperial capital. Key Highlights of SPIEF- Background: The first SPIEF was held in 1997.
    Now over past two decades, it has become one of leading global platforms for
    communication between business representatives and discussion of crucial global economic
    issues. Since 2006 it has been held under auspices and participation for Russian President
    Vladimir Putin. The SPIEF 2018 edition brought together around 17,000 participants from
    more than 140 countries. At the event Russia tries to boost its appeal to international
    businesses and investors. St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2019: brought
    together high-profile politicians, leaders from participating countries, leaders of International
    organisation, representatives of major international companies and organisations as well as
    experts from various fields. In 2019 session delegations from nearly all European Union (EU)
    countries, including Hungary, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Finland,
    Greece, Belgium among others and also senior officials from Cambodia, Vietnam, South
    Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Central African Republic (CAR) are taking part in various
    business sessions of forum. Chinese President Jinping will also attend SPIEF 2019 edition.
    Theme for SPIEF 2019: Creating a Sustainable Development Agenda. Key Features-
    Following Rusian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and role in pro-Russian uprising in Ukraine,
    the country has been hit by five years of international sanctions on its economy. It is also not
    immune to effects of U.S-China trade war which is putting brakes on global growth. The
    Western sanction over Russia is now followed by Russia’s pivot to the east with gradual
    dependence on China. The Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to SPIEF 2019 marks a new
    era of friendship between China and Russia and reinforcement of economic ties that had
    benefitted from Moscow’s isolation from West. This visit holds milestone significance in
    development of bilateral relations. Both countries show strong political mutual trust such as
    politically they seem consistently aligned and often vote in unison as permanent members of
    UN Security Council (UNSC). They also support each other firmly on issues concerning each
    other’s core interests and major concerns.
    48) Jimmy Carter, Ex-President of United States of America (USA) won the inaugural George H.
    W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in recognition of his contributions to relations between
    U.S. and China. About George H. W. Bush Award- It is conferred by George H. W. Bush
    Foundation for U.S. China Relations. Jimmy Carter will receive inaugural George H. W. Bush
    Award for Statesmanship in U.S.-China Relations at a private award ceremony scheduled for
    12 June 2019 at Carter Center in Atlanta, US. Objective: The award is conferred to people
    who have made profound contributions towards development of constructive and mutually
    beneficial relations between U.S and People’s Republic of China. About Jimmy Carter- He
    was former governor of Georgia (1971-1975) and later served as 39th president of United
    States from 1977-1981. During his tenure, Joint Communiqué on Establishment of Diplomatic
    Relations was signed on 1 January 1979 which stated official beginning of Diplomatic relation
    between US and China and that two countries would even open Embassies on 1 March
    1979. He also announced withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel from Taiwan and end to
    Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty signed with China.

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