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  • W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 15 June 2019 To 21 June 2019.
    Posted on June 25th, 2019 in Weekly Current Affairs

    W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 15 June 2019 To 21 June 2019.

    1) Kolhapuris, the sturdy ethnic leather chappal (footwear) that rose from its humble rural origins to
    occupy high table of fashion globally, now has a Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The GI tag
    approval was jointly received by Karnataka and Maharashtra for making these chappals. Key
    Highlights- The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM) has
    granted GI tag for Kolhapuris to four districts in each state of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Joint
    GI: There is a perception that Kolhapuris artisans are from Maharashtra alone, but a large
    number of them are from Karnataka as well, and have been making these chappals for
    centuries. Moreover, Maharashtra and Karnataka jointly applied for GI tag last year and it was
    approved few weeks back. Benefits of GI Tag: It will help artisans export these chappals and
    also tie up with e-commerce giants such as Flipkart and Amazon. With GI tag now these local
    artisans get legal support. Thus, anyone who is going to copy this can be punished. Significance
    of GI tag: Getting GI tag will open large markets, both domestic and international to artisans
    who produce Kolhapuris in 8 districts namely- Kolhapur, Sangli, Solapur and Satara districts of
    Maharashtra and Belgaum, Dharwad, Bagalkot and Bijapur districts of Karnataka. Also, getting
    GI tag for Kolhapuri means that footwear produced only in these 8 districts will qualify to carry
    tag of being Kolhapuris. Kolhapuri Chappal- Uniqueness: These sturdy leather chappals are
    hand-crafted and tanned using vegetable dyes and the art of making them is passed down one
    generation to another. History: As per GI application made by two states of Maharashtra and
    Karnataka, Kolhapuris can be traced back to 12th century when King Bijjal ruled Bidar (in
    Karnataka). King’s Prime Minister Vishwaguru Basavanna, wanted to create a casteless society
    and remove stigma attached to cobbler community, thus, the community embraced Lingayat
    faith and used its skills to start producing footwear that came to be known equally for its
    ruggedness and regal bearing. ‘Kolhapuri’ as a Brand was created only at beginning of 20th
    century when footwear began to be traded in Kolhapur (Maharashtra). Later, Chhatrapati Shahu
    Maharaj of Kolhapur encouraged its production and 29 tanning centres were opened during his
    rule in Kolhapur. What is Geographical Indications? GI is used on products/items which have
    specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation and distinctiveness which is
    essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality. Validity: The tag is valid
    for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed. GI India: Recently Union Minister of
    Commerce and Industry launched logo and tagline for Geographical Indications (GI) of India.
    The 1st product to get a GI tag in India was Darjeeling tea (2004). The sui generis Act for
    protection of GI in India is Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,
    1999 (GI Act). This Act was enacted by India so as to comply with Agreement on Trade-Related
    Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) by World Trade Organisation (WTO). The GI tag
    is granted protection under TRIPS.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 15 June 2019 To 21 June 2019.
    2) The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC), in cooperation with its India Focal Point, the
    Indian Coast Guard (ICG), began its 12th Capacity Building Workshop from 19 to 21 June 2019,
    in New Delhi, India. In two-day capacity building workshop 31 International delegates from 19
    maritime law enforcement and regulatory authorities from Asia and beyond are participating.
    Key Highlights- The ISC organizes Capacity building workshop annually and is co-hosted by
    one of the Contracting Parties. The 12th workshop is co-hosted by ICG and ReCAAP IFC is
    being attended by officials of concerned ministries and members of Diplomatic Corps. Objective:
    of workshop is to share updated situation of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia and
    other best practices of Asian countries. During the course of workshop all participants will be
    trained on various issues related to piracy and armed robbery like international laws,
    prosecution process, forensics and emerging threats. ReCAAP & India: Capacity building
    remains one of the most significant pillars of cooperation under ReCAAP agreement and India
    has played a leading role in this aspect by hosting this workshop for a third time (earlier in
    November 2011 at Goa and December 2017 at New Delhi). Indian agencies especially ICG
    have been actively involved in ensuring safe and secure seas for seafarers. Mandate: The
    information sharing is a shared responsibility of participant governments and shipping industry
    and purpose of information sharing would be better served if it is accurate and shared on real
    time basis. What is ReCAAP? ReCAAP is an abbreviation for Regional Cooperation Agreement
    on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). It is 1st regional
    government to government agreement to enhance and promote cooperation against piracy and
    armed robbery against ships in Asia. Background: ReCAAP Agreement was entered into force
    on 4 September 2006 with initially 14 Asian as Contracting Parties North, Southeast, and South
    Asian nations. Then on 29 November 2006, ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP
    ISC) was established in Singapore. Members: As of now it has 20 Contracting Parties, which
    includes 14 Asian countries, 4 European countries, (Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, and United
    Kingdom), United States and Australia. Function: It strive towards developing cooperative
    framework to address menace of piracy and armed robbery by facilitating information exchange
    between various stakeholders. At 12th Governing Council Meeting in 2018, council announced
    that ReCAAP ISC has met criteria to be Centre of Excellence for information sharing in
    combating piracy and armed robbery against ships at sea.
    3) The 20th Meeting of Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held under the
    Chairmanship of Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs.
    Key Highlights of Meeting- The Meeting reviewed current global and domestic economic
    situation, overall macro-economic situation and financial stability issues including those
    concerning Banking and Non Banking Financial Company (NBFC). Council was also informed
    about progress made towards setting-up of Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC) under
    the aegis of FSDC, so as to facilitate integrated data aggregation and analysis as also a
    Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-Fin) towards strengthening cyber security
    framework for financial sector. Council also held consultations to obtain inputs and suggestions
    of Financial Regulators for Union Budget 2019-20. All the regulators presented their proposals
    for upcoming Budget. The financial sector regulators includes- SEBI (Capital Market), RBI
    (Monetary Sector), IRDA (Insurance), PFRDA (Pension) and IBC (Insolvency & Bankruptcy).
    Council also took note of activities undertaken by FSDC Sub-Committee which is chaired by
    Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor and action taken by Members on decisions taken in
    earlier Meetings of FSDC. What is Financial Stability and Development Council? The FSDC was
    constituted in December 2010. It is apex body of sectoral regulators and not a statutory body.
    Objective: to strengthen and institutionalise mechanism for maintaining financial stability,
    promoting financial sector development and enhancing inter-regulatory coordination. Function:
    Among other things, it deals with issues relating to financial stability, financial literacy, financial
    inclusion, financial sector development, inter–regulatory coordination and macro prudential
    supervision of economy which also includes functioning of large financial conglomerates. No
    separate funds are allocated to Council for undertaking its activities. FSDC Sub-Committee: It
    deliberates on agenda items proposed by any member of FSDC Council which mainly include
    matters relating to financial stability, inter-regulatory coordination, and financial sector
    4) In bid to boost India’s relations with its neighbours, the government has entered into
    agreements with Bangladesh and South Korea to broadcast DD (Doordarshan) India channel in
    two countries and their state channels will be shown on DD Free Dish in India. Key Highlights-
    Bangladesh Agreement: As per the agreement inked with Bangladesh, Indian government has
    decided to show BTV World, a channel owned by Bangladesh TV, on DD Free Dish which will
    be available for viewers of Doordarshan (around 35 million households) in India. Also, DD India
    would be made available in Bangladesh for being viewed by Bangladesh’s citizen. In this regard
    a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been signed between Prasar Bharati and
    Bangladesh TV (BTV) on 7 May 2019. South Korea Agreement: Indian government has also
    approved Prasar Bharati (India’s Broadcasting agency) proposal for making available KBS
    World, a 24×7 South Korean channel (English) for Indian viewers and simultaneously South
    Korean people would be able to view DD India in their country. Significance: This move is part
    of a robust cultural exchange in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Act East policy and
    also marks an important watershed moment with respect to strengthening of ties between two
    countries. The step is also in line with importance of building mutual cooperation with
    neighbouring countries.
    5) The World Sickle Cell Day is globally observed every year on 19 June, to raise public
    awareness about the sickle cell disease and its treatment methods. This year is the 40th
    celebration of World Sickle Cell Day. About World Sickle Cell Day- Background: The day was
    1st recognized by United Nations General Assembly (63rd session) in 2008 and Sickle Cell
    Disease International Organization (SCDIO), Republic of Congo and the Republic of Senegal,
    African Union (AU), the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
    Organization) and WHO (World Health Organisation) backed the observation of day. For the
    first time the World Sickle Cell day was celebrated on 19 June, 2009. Significance: It is
    celebrated to improve public awareness about genetic disease and to improve treatment
    outcomes of sickle cell disease by early diagnosis. Celebrations: The day is observed in a way
    that NGOs, doctors, governments and support groups come together to find strategies to
    eliminate the sickle cell disease. Government also organise several campaigns for proper
    treatment and cure of those suffering from disease. What is Sickle Cell Disease? It is one of the
    most commonly occurring genetic disease. It is an inherited genetic abnormality of hemoglobin
    (the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells) due to which red blood cells (RBCs)
    causes stuck in small blood vessels and are unable to carry adequate amount of oxygen
    throughout body. In normal condition RBCs are flexible and round (thus move easily through
    blood vessels) and can live up to 120 days before body needs to replace them but in sickle cell
    anemia, RBCs are sickle shaped, become rigid and sticky and the sickle cells last only 10 to 20
    days causing anemia because of red blood cells disorder. As per UN estimation nearly 5 lakh
    children are born every year with this condition and half of them die before turning 5 years of
    6) According to United Nations report ‘World Population Prospects 2019’, India is projected to
    surpass China as world’s most populous country in just eight years i.e. by 2027. Key Findings of
    Report- Global Population: Despite a slowing global birth rate world population is projected to
    increase by another 2 billion people by 2050 i.e. from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 9.7 billion by 2050.
    More than 50% increase will be concentrated in only 9 countries namely- India, Pakistan, the
    United States, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Egypt Tanzania, and
    Indonesia. The population of sub-Saharan Africa is also projected to nearly double in coming
    future. India: According to report estimates India is expected to add 273 million people by 2050
    and will remain most populated until the end of century (2100). In 2019, the estimated
    population of India is 1.37 billion and of China 1.43 billion, but India is projected to surpass
    China’s. Thus by 2050, India will be leading the set of nine countries that will make up for more
    than half of projected growth of global population. Projected Populous Countries: Following
    India-China re-ordering in 2027, the ranking of 5 largest countries is projected to remain same
    until the end of century i.e. by 2100. Therefore, based on an estimated population top 5 world’s
    populous nation will be- India is projected to remain world’s most populous country with about
    1.5 billion inhabitants, followed by China (1.1 billion), Nigeria (733 million), United States (434
    million), and Pakistan (403 million). Ageing Population: The report projects that overall world’s
    population is ageing at such a fast rate that by 2050, 1 in 6 people in world will be part of age
    group of 65 (and above) as compared to 1 in 11 in 2019. Also by end of 2100 world population
    is set to peak at a level of about 11 billion. Shrinking Population: Between 2019 and 2050,
    nearly 55 countries are estimated to face population shrinking by at least 1%. As already since
    2010, 27 countries have recorded a minimum 1% decline in population. This declining trend in
    population being experienced by growing number of countries is attributed to sustained low
    levels of fertility or even high rates of emigration. China will be the largest of these 55 countries
    whose population is projected to shrink by as much as 2.2% (about 31.4 million) by 2050. About
    World Population Prospects 2019- It published by Population Division of the UN Department of
    Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA). WPP 2019 is 26th edition of United Nations population
    estimates and projections. It presents population estimates from year 1950 to 2019 for 235
    countries or areas by analysing historical demographic trends. WPPP 2019 revision presents
    population projections to year 2100. This years WPPP’s presents population estimates and
    projections describe 2 out of 4 demographic megatrends– population growth and ageing other
    being migration and urbanization. Importance: Collectively, these data make up a critical piece
    of evidence base for monitoring global progress towards achievement of Sustainable
    Development Goals (SDG) by 2030.
    7) India’s PU Chitra won gold medal in women’s 1500m at Folksam Grand Prix 2019 held in
    Sollentuna, Sweden. She produced the best time of her season so far by clocking 4 minute
    12.65 seconds (4:12.65s). Key Highlights- Chitra finished first in Folksam Grand Prix ahead of
    Kenya’s Mercy Cherono, who won 5000m gold in Commonwealth Games 2014. She is a gold
    medal winner in Asian Championships held in Doha, Qatar in April 2019. Jinson Johnson from
    India won silver medal in men’s 1500m at Folksam Grand Prix by clocking 3:39.69. He is also
    Asian Games gold medalist and has earlier bettered his own national record on 15 June by
    clocking 3:37.62 at Next Generation Athletics Meet at Nijmegen, the Netherlands. In another
    separate competition, National record holder Murali Sreeshankar won gold in men’s long jump,
    at the Copenhagen Athletics Games in Denmark. He won with an impressive opening round
    effort of 7.93m and equalled his season-best effort which came in Lyon, France. In other
    rounds, he also had jumps of 7.89m, 7.88m and 7.61m. About Folksam Grand Prix- It is a series
    of international athletics meetings created in 2009. Since then it is organized every year in
    Sweden by the Swedish Athletics Federation.
    8) Sri Lanka’s first ever satellite ‘Raavana-1’, designed and developed by two Sri Lankan
    engineers, was successfully placed into orbit. It was launched from International Space Station
    (ISS) along with two other BIRDS 3 satellites from Japan and Nepal. About Raavana-1:
    Background: The satellite was officially handed over to JAXA (Japanese Aerospace and
    Exploration Agency) on February 18 and was sent to International Space Station on April 17,
    through assistance of Cygnus-1 spacecraft from United States. Orbit: It was deployed to 400-km
    of orbit at an inclination of 51.6 degrees using JAXA (Japanese Aerospace and Exploration
    Agency) owned Kibo experiment module. Engineer: It was designed and developed by two Sri
    Lankan engineers Tharindu Dayaratne and Dulani Chamika who are studying space
    engineering at Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology. Features: It is a cube satellite measuring
    11.3 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm, and weighs around 1.05 kg. It is expected to fulfil 5 missions including
    capturing pictures of Sri Lanka & its surrounding regions. It also has active attitude stabilization
    which will ensure that satellite’s attitude is stable under influence of external talks. Life span: It is
    designed for a minimum lifespan of 1.5 years but is expected to be active for about five year.
    About BIRDS 3 Project- The ‘Birds project’ is an acronym for ‘Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds
    Satellite project’, which is a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project for non-space faring
    countries supported by Japan. It is first step towards creating an indigenous space program by
    designing, building, operating, testing and launching 1st satellite for participating nations. The
    Birds 3 project is led by Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology and involves students from Sri
    Lanka, Nepal and Japan.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 15 June 2019 To 21 June 2019.
    9) The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-Bombay), has emerged as best-ranked Indian
    institute globally at 152nd position in QS World University Rankings’ 2020. IIT-Bombay has
    been securing top position among all Indian institutes for past three years and in 2020 edition it
    has improved its rank by 10 moving up places from 2018 ranking. Key Highlights- Globally Best:
    The world-class Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created a history by topping QS
    World University Rankings for 8th consecutive year. As per QS, no other university has
    managed the top rank for such a long run. Other Universities retained their 2nd, 3rd and 4th
    positions in the world are Stanford University, Harvard University and California Institute of
    Technology (Caltech) respectively. India’s Performance: This year too no Indian university was
    able to secure a place in top 100 best universities. In total, there are 23 educational institutions
    from India which featured in broader list of top 1000, with only nine in the top 500. Out of 23,
    only four have managed to improve their ranks. IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi and IISc-Bangalore are
    the only three institutions that have managed berths in the top 200 list of QS World Rankings.
    IIT-Delhi emerged as 2nd-best ranking institute from India by at 182nd place, replacing Indian
    Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. IISc Bangalore lost 14 places in this year’s ranking and
    ended at 184th place even when it achieved world’s 2nd-best score for research impact and
    secured full 100 marks for citations per faculty metric. It is also 1st ever Indian institution to see
    its research cited over 1 lakh times in five-year period. OP Jindal Global University based in
    Sonipat is the only new entrant in this years’ list. It is a private Indian university, founded in
    2009, and is one of the youngest to enter top 1000 list. It was ranked in between 751-800 in QS
    global list and consequently, emerged as 14th best institute in the country. Other Indian
    Universities in top 500 list includes: IIT-Madras (271), IIT-Kharagpur (281), IIT- Kanpur (291),
    IIT-Roorkee (383), University of Delhi (474) and IIT-Guwahati (491). About QS Global University
    Rankings- It is one of the two most sought after rankings for educational institutes globally. It
    was launched in 2004 by London-based QS Group in collaboration with Times Higher
    Education, but the two parted ways in 2010. Since then both QS Group and Times Higher
    Education come up with separate rankings every year.
    10) India has for the first time extended $15 Million financial support to Niger as a support for
    organising African Union (AU) summit scheduled to be held in 7-8 July 2019 in Niamey (Capital
    of Niger). This will be the 1st time that Niger will be hosting an AU summit. Key Highlights- The
    assistance in form of grant was symbolically handed over by Rajesh Agarwal, Indian
    Ambassador to Niger to Lamido Ousseini Bala Goga Salamatou, Niger’s Deputy Foreign
    Minister, in presence of Minister and Special Advisor to Niger President Mohammed Saidil
    Moctar at a ceremony held in Niamey. The support extended by India was in response to a
    specific request by Niger government. Significance: India’s grant assistance to Niger for
    organizing AU Summit will further contribute towards enhancing bilateral ties between two
    countries. This grant assistance is also reiteration of India’s firm commitment to its
    developmental partnership with Africa. This is more important at a time when India is competing
    for influencing the continent with China. AU Summit: is also expected to launch historic African
    Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA is the largest free trade area in world in
    terms of participating countries since formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), outlined
    in African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 52 out of 55 African Union (AU) nations.
    India-Niger: Bilateral relations between India and Niger have expanded significantly since the
    opening of Indian Resident Diplomatic Mission in Niamey in 2009. Both countries enjoys close
    relations and India has extended Lines of Credit to Niger worth $96.54 million, for projects in
    transport, electrification, solar energy and potable drinking water. As per Memorandum of
    Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Niger, India is also establishing Mahatma
    Gandhi International Convention Centre (MGICC) in Niamey under grant assistance. The
    MGICC will be a landmark for Niger-India friendship and also a symbol of India’s firm
    commitment towards Africa. This convention Centre by India in Niger is part of India’s plan to
    build chain convention centres across 20 African states as signature infrastructure projects
    which was until now an expertise for China.
    11) An Indian engineer named Nitesh Kumar Jangir won 2019 Commonwealth Secretary-General’s
    Innovation for Sustainable Development Award in London, United Kingdom (UK). He won the
    award in People category, for creating a low-cost breathing support device called ‘Saans’ for
    premature babies. Key Highlights- The award was presented by Prince Harry (Duke of Sussex),
    Youth Ambassador of Commonwealth, and Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-
    General. The inaugural Commonwealth Innovation Awards was conferred upon 15 innovators
    from 53 member-countries of Commonwealth. Prize: Each of 15 winners received a trophy,
    certificate and prize money worth 2,000 pounds. Nitesh Kumar Jangir: He is a Bangalore-based
    electronics engineer and is co-founder of Coeo Labs, a medical device company which holds a
    vision of preventing preventable deaths in field of emergency and critical care. Thus, he created
    Saans as a breathing support device to tackle avoidable deaths of premature babies from
    neonatal respiratory distress syndrome due to lack of immediate access to complex medical
    equipment. The award received will help in upscaling this device across Commonwealth
    countries, for use in similar conditions in regions like Africa. About ‘Saans’- It is a breathing
    support device used for tackling avoidable deaths of premature babies from Neonatal
    Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). Feature: It is world’s 1st neonatal Continuous Positive
    Airway Pressure (CPAP) device. It can be powered in multiple ways via direct source electricity,
    like with help of vehicle’s electrical supply, rechargeable battery, compressed gas, or even a
    manual air pumping. Pilot use: Saans has been in circulation for past 3 months across several
    district hospitals of India that lack neonatal ICU facilities and also at medical colleges, has been
    in development for 4 years. Cheap: It is a low-cost device, at least 3 times cheaper than any
    other such machine. Significance: In countries such as India, Africa where there is inconsistent
    electricity supply and very limited resources at public hospitals, this neonatal breathing support
    equipment comes as a boon as it can be used easily without any complex training. Being user-
    friendly, anyone, anywhere can use this device and deliver crucial support to premature babies.
    Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Awards-
    Objective: It Awards seek to celebrate and support impactful innovations and forward-looking
    solutions that help Commonwealth countries achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
    at the same time advancing values in Commonwealth Charter. Eligible: Awards are open to
    Commonwealth citizens and Commonwealth countries (53 sovereign states) based
    organisations from public, private or even voluntary sectors. Women and young people are
    mainly encouraged to apply. Categories: Awards are divided in 5 thematic categories- (1)
    improving lives of People, (2) promoting peace, (3) boosting prosperity, (4) protecting planet,
    (5)building partnerships for development in Commonwealth. Selection Process: was based on
    impact or potential of innovations to advance one or more 17 Sustainable Development Goals
    (SDGs) in Commonwealth nations and some of other winners were from countries in Caribbean
    and Africa and from Australia and Canada.
    12) Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global internet body and
    and Indian apex body for IT industry NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services
    Companies) announced collaboration for working in developing standards and identifier
    technology that will feed into the global consultation for managing Internet-of-Things (IoT)
    devices and infrastructure using internet. Key Highlights- Under the partnership, both ICANN &
    NASSCOM will 1st focus on updating Internet of Things (IoT) devices using domain name
    system (DNS) even in situation when manufacturer or supplier has closed down the business.
    The collaboration will provide a structure for both bodies to jointly identify research projects,
    predominantly in new technologies related to internet’s system of unique identifiers. The
    research project undertaken will look at directing people who are looking to update their IoT to
    other manufacturers/vendor in case if original vendor has closed down his business. First
    Project: 1st research project undertaken focuses on testing the use of DNS to update IoT
    firmware and studying how proposed technology could scale outside a lab environment. Project
    Team: under collaboration includes ICANN technical experts, NASSCOM’s Centre of
    Excellence-IOT team, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad team and participants from
    Education and Research Network (ERNET) of India. The teams have already begun research
    on DNS and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) in context of Internet of Things (IoT) in 2018.
    About ICANN- It is nonprofit global organization that is responsible for allocating IP addresses,
    managing domain name system (DNS) and also overlooks all internet plumbing on behalf of
    governments, universities and companies, as well as public. It is often dubbed as phone book of
    internet as it matches domain names with appropriate IP address numbers. Although this global
    multi-stakeholder organization was created by United States (US) government but since March
    2016, ICANN is no longer overseen by US government and has roped in now into the hands of
    lesser known organisation that will have a number of countries on board.
    13) The Government of India has approved Union Ministry of Defence proposal for restoration of
    ‘ration in kind’ to military officers stationed in peace areas. This is one of the first major
    decisions taken by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh after he assumed the new portfolio role in
    Modi government’s 2nd term. Key Highlights- Background: On 1 July 2017, government had
    taken the decision that instead of free ration in kind facility defence officers would be given
    certain allowance.  This decision to withdraw provision of ration in kind, a practice that was
    being followed since 1983 was based on a recommendation of 7th Central Pay Commission
    (CPC). Initially the ration in kind facility was applicable only to junior officers but was
    subsequently extended to all ranks. The MoD decision to cancel free ration for officers in peace
    postings met with criticism from several quarters within the three armed forces services.
    Allowance: Defence forces had told Defence Ministry that in case if ration in kind facility was
    discontinued then an allowance of Rs.205.11/officer/day without tax exemptions must be paid.
    However, central government decided only an amount of Rs.96 as allowance. Later a cost
    analysis was done which revealed that in case of free ration cost came up to Rs.100 per officer
    per day. Importance: Now after restoration of ration in kind facility all officers of armed forces,
    including those in peace stations, will be getting ration. This result of restoration is due to a lot of
    effort from all levels in Defence Ministry and Indian Armed Forces.
    14) The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) has approved the extension of Senior
    bureaucrat Alok Vardhan Chaturvedi by over 3 months, in central deputation as Director
    General (DG), Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). Key Highlights- A. V. Chaturvedi is
    a 1986 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre. He was given extension beyond 18 June 2019 and will
    now continue up to 30 September 2019, the date of his superannuation or until further orders
    whichever is earlier. Appointments Committee of Cabinet: The ACC decides appointments to
    top posts under Government of India (GoI). It is composed of the Prime Minister of India,
    Narendra Modi who act as the Chairman of ACC and Union Minister of Home Affairs, Amit
    Shah. Directorate General of Foreign Trade: It is agency of Union Ministry of Commerce and
    Industry. It is responsible for administering laws regarding foreign trade and foreign investment
    in India and for execution of India’s import and export Policies. It provides a complete
    searchable database of all exporters and importers of India.
    15) The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has decided to remove
    requirement of minimum educational qualification (class 8th pass) for transport vehicle drivers in
    country. Key Highlights- Background: Currently, as per the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, a
    transport vehicle driver must need to have passed Class VIII. Initially, Haryana state
    government had requested Centre for waiver of minimum educational qualification condition for
    drivers belonging to economically backward Mewat region of Haryana where the residing
    population is dependent for livelihood on low-income earning pursuits such as driving, and even
    though many people in region possessed required driving skill but not had required educational
    qualification, thus were finding it difficult to obtain driving license. Benefits: This move will
    benefit skilled persons in economically backward areas and will open up employment
    opportunities for a large number of unemployed youth (especially rural areas), who may not
    have a formal education but are otherwise skilled and literate. It will also help meet shortage of
    nearly 22 lakh drivers in country’s transport and logistics sector, which is hindering economic
    growth. Balancing Act: Although removing the minimum educational qualification requirement is
    being welcomed but emphasis must be laid upon training and skill testing of drivers so that road
    safety is not compromised in any way. Key Decisions: MoRTH emphasized that anyone
    applying for a driving license will have to mandatory pass a stringent skill test. It also made a
    point that training imparted by a school/establishment as mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Act
    1988, should compulsorily ensure that driver can read signs and perform logistical duty like
    maintaining driver logs, submitting pre-trip and post-trip records, inspecting trucks/trailers,
    determining any kind of discrepancies in paperwork as well as must have effective
    communication to report safety hazards. Since driving schools are subject to regulatory control
    by states therefore, training imparted should be of high quality, and must cover all aspects of
    driving a particular type of motor vehicle. Way Ahead- The central government has initiated
    process of amendment to rule 8 of Central Motor Vehicles (CMV) 1989 for removing minimum
    education qualification criteria and draft notification in this regard will be issued soon.
    16) After months of speculations and rumours, Facebook has officially announced the details of its
    new global cryptocurrency called Libra. This Facebook owned cryptocurrency Libra will be
    launched by social media giant in 2020. LIBRA Explained- The name Libra is a Roman unit of
    weight measure. Name is also tries to invoke a sense of financial freedom by using French stem
    “Lib,” which means free. Libra: It will let its user to send or receive money and buy things at
    nearly zero fees. Users can pseudonymously buy/cash out their Libra online or even at local
    exchange points (ex- grocery stores), and can spend it using interoperable 3rd-party wallet apps
    or Facebook’s own Calibra wallet. Objective: The mission behind launching Libra is to enable
    simple global currency and financial infrastructure to empower billions of people. Subsidiary
    Company: Facebook is also launching its Subsidiary Co. called Calibra that will handle its crypto
    dealings. The Calibra will not share any information with its Parent company Facebook (i.e. will
    never mingle users Libra payments with your Facebook data) so as to protects users’ privacy so
    it can’t be used for ad targeting. Digital Wallet: This new digital currency will be made available
    through a digital wallet Calibra that will be available in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp,(both
    owned by Facebook) and also as a standalone app. It is expected to be launch in 2020. The
    Libra Association: To spur the adoption of cryptocurrency, Facebook recruited founding
    members of Libra Association, a not-for-profit organization which oversees development of
    token, reserve of real-world assets that gives it value and governance rules of blockchain. Libra
    Association, the crypto’s new oligarchy is based in Geneva, (Switzerland) and will meet
    biannually. Libra Association council: Each founding member will pay minimum sum of $10
    million to join and optionally become a validator node operator and gain 1 vote in Libra
    Association council. Each member (including Facebook/Calibra) will only get up to 1 vote or 1%
    of total vote (whichever is larger) in LAC. Companies’ part of this association include: Uber,
    PayU, PayPal, Spotify, ebay, Lyft, Visa, Vodafone etc.  They will promote open-sourced Libra
    Blockchain and sign up businesses to accept Libra for payment  and will also give customers
    discounts or rewards. The Libra currency: A Libra is a unit of Libra cryptocurrency which is
    represented by (a three wavy horizontal line). The Libra value is meant to stay largely stable, so
    that it stays a good medium of exchange, and merchants can also have confidence that they
    won’t be paid a Libra today that’s then worth less tomorrow. Libra- A Stablecoin: Libra’s value is
    attached to a basket of bank deposits and short-term government securities for stable
    international currencies, such as dollar ($), pound, euro, Swiss franc and Japanese yen. The
    Libra Association manages reserved that keep value of libra stable. It maintains basket of
    assets and can also change balance of its composition if necessary to offset major price
    fluctuations in any one foreign currency so as to keep value of a Libra consistent. Libra
    Blockchain: Libra is maintained by nodes which are servers that help operate blockchain. Every
    Libra payment is permanently inscribed into Libra Blockchain which is a cryptographically
    authenticated database that acts as public online ledger and designed in a way to handle 1000
    transactions/second. It would faster than other cryptocurrency, Bitcoin’s7 transactions/second or
    Ethereum’s 15 transactions/second.  The founding members of Libra Association (each invested
    $10 million or more for say in Libra’s governance) will constantly verify blockchain and will have
    the ability to operate a validator node. Other Cryptocurrency: Existing cryptocurrencies such as
    Bitcoin and Ethereum were not properly engineered to scale to be a medium of exchange which
    made their unanchored price susceptible to huge and unpredictable swings further making it
    tough for merchants to accept as payment. But with Facebook’s deep relation with 7 million
    advertisers and 90 million small businesses and its user experience prowess, it is well-poised to
    tackle this problem.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 15 June 2019 To 21 June 2019.
    17) According to a study conducted by Randstad Employer Brand Research (REBR), e-commerce
    player Amazon India has been rated as India’s most ‘attractive employer brand, followed by
    Microsoft India which emerged as the runner-up. Key Findings of Study- Top 10 most attractive
    employer brands in India for 2019 includes:  (1) Amazon, (2) Microsoft, (3) Sony, (4) Mercedes-
    Benz, (5) IBM, (6) Larsen & Toubro, (7) Nestle, (8) Infosys, (9) Samsung, (10) Dell. Coverage:
    The Randstad research for year 2019 covered 75% of global economy with 32 participating
    countries and over 2 lakh respondents worldwide. For the Indian workforce while choosing an
    employer salary and employee benefits continue to be top driver, followed by work-life balance
    and job security. Although the gender differences between men and women on top three
    aspects were minimal, but women, attributed more importance to salary and benefits (49%) and
    work-life balance (47%) as compared to their male counterparts who ranked these as top
    aspects at 46% and 46% respectively. The most important finding was that work-life balance
    was accorded importance as a key factor while considering choosing an employer. This has
    increased largely (46%) compared to last two years and emergence of fact that Indian
    employees are willing to place a premium on job security. There are 23% higher number of
    employees in India who indicate that they would be agreeable to a security versus
    compensation trade-off. This is higher than the broader Asia-Pacific (APAC) average. About
    52% of survey respondents showed their willingness to forfeit more than 10% of their salary for
    job security. About Randstad Employer Brand Research (REBR)- REBR is world’s most
    comprehensive, independent and in-depth employer brand research. It identifies most attractive
    employers among thousands of companies. The research captures views of more than 2 lakh
    respondents which include general public (aged 18-65) on 6,162 companies in 32 countries. It
    provides insights into drivers and perceptions of choice of potential employees by finding
    answers to questions such as- Why do people prefer one company, or a specific industry, over
    another and What motivates them to stay with an employer/start looking elsewhere?
    18) 29 journalists from both print and electronic media were felicitated with Matri Shree Media
    Awards for their contribution towards journalism in New Delhi. Key Highlights- This year was the
    44th edition of Matri Shree media award. This time apart from media personalities, a social
    activist was also presented Bharat Mata shield at 44th Matri Shree media award ceremony. The
    awardees were presented the Matri Shree Bharat Mata shield and a pen by Swadesh Bhushan
    Jain, Working President of Punjab Kesari (Delhi) and Ashok Aggarwal, chairman of committee.
    2019 Winners: include Durga Pasad Mishra (PTI photo journalist), Agraj Pratap Singh of UNI,
    Jitender Kumar of Univarta, Namita (PTI Bhasha), Poonam Gaur (Navbharat Times), Kunal
    Kashyap (Punjab Kesari), Sandeep Ashwario Chief Cartoonist (Times of India) and Ravi
    Bhushan Dwivedi (Sandhya Times). Other Awardees: Adesh Gupta, the former mayor of North
    Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) was also awarded for his contribution to social service.
    Bollywood film Badhai Ho was also presented Bharat Mata shield. About Matri Shree Media
    Awards- It is a series of awards which are felicitated for outstanding performance in different
    areas of journalism and related fields. The award was constituted during Emergency in India
    (1975) and since then it has been awarded annually to 25 outstanding candidates in print
    journalism as well electronic media. Since 2000, Indian filmmakers were also eligible to receive
    the prestigious awards. The 1st recipient of award was journalist Lala Jagat Narayan.
    19) In the latest Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)
    rankings Naomi Osaka of Japan’s and Novak Djokovic of Serbia continue to be as World
    Number 1. Key Highlights- The latest ATP and WTA rankings were announced ahead of the
    2019 Wimbledon Championships that is scheduled to take place at All England Lawn Tennis
    and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom (UK) starting 1 July 2019. Naomi
    Osaka: retained the World No. 1 spot by being just 252 points ahead of world No.2 Ashleigh
    Barty of Australia in unchanged top 20 WTA rankings. Novak Djokovic: leads the latest men’s
    ATP rankings ahead of Rafael Nadal (French Open winner 2019) and former World No. 1 Roger
    Federer. The top of ATP rankings remains unchanged even a week after Nadal claimed the
    Men’s Singles in Roland Garros title (French Open 2019) with victory over Australia’s Dominic
    Thiem in final. Roger Federer also lost to Nadal in semis in his first appearance in French Open
    2019, Paris since 2015. Wimbledon Preparations: In preparation for upcoming Wimbledon
    Naomi and the French Open winner Ashleigh Barty are playing on grass in Birmingham,
    England this week. Roger is currently playing on grass in Halle in Germany as the focus
    switches to Wimbledon build-up. About WTA and ATP- Women’s Tennis Association (WTA): It
    was founded in 1973 by Billie Jean King, to create a better future for women’s tennis. It is the
    principal organizing body of women’s professional tennis and is restricted to women. The body
    governs WTA Tour which is worldwide professional tennis tour for women. Association of
    Tennis Professionals (ATP)- It was founded in September 1972 by Jack Kramer, Donald Dell,
    and Cliff Drysdale (who became 1st President of body) to protect the interests of male
    professional tennis players. It is the principal governing body of men’s professional tennis.
    20) At the 33rd Federation Cup Basketball Championship for Men and Women held over the past
    week in Gautam Buddha University in Greater Noida, Punjab Police and Eastern Railway won
    the men’s and women’s titles respectively. Key Highlights- Punjab Police won the match by
    winning over Indian Army with 91-71. The bulk of scoring was done by Harshpreet Singh
    Bhullar, Amjyot Singh and Ranbir Singh. Eastern Railway won the women’s titles by beating
    Tamil Nadu with 86-67 after leading 46-42 at half time. Initially in League phase Tamil Nadu had
    beaten Eastern Railway but final saw a thrilling performance by M.J. Libina and the India’s
    tallest women basketball player Poonam Chaturvedi led an easy victory over Tamil Nadu.
    Awards: Most Valuable Players Men’s – Harshpreet Singh Bhullar, Punjab Police (Men). Most
    Valuable Players Women’s – M.J. Libina, Eastern Railway (Women). Men’s Final: (1) Punjab
    Police, (2) Indian Army, (3) Income Tax, Chennai. Women’s Final: (1) Eastern Railway, (2)
    Tamil Nadu 67, (3) Kerala. Kiran Rijiju, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports  presented
    the trophies to winning team and the top three teams were presented sum of 1 Lakh, 50,000
    and 25,000 respectively. About 33rd Federation Cup Basketball Tournament- It was organised
    by Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and Uttar Pradesh Basketball Association (UPBA). The
    Federation Cup was held from 12-16 June, 2019 at Gautam Buddha University in Greater
    Noida. The game featured 9 teams from top men’s units and 8 of the women’s top state teams
    from around India taking part.
    21) Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, was appointed by Pakistan military as the new Director-
    General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military-led powerful spy agency. Though by
    convention it is the Prime Minister of country who appoints ISI chief in consultation with Army
    chief per the Constitution, bout in reality it is the Army who decides who he wants in job. Also,
    the DG ISI is answerable only to the Army chief and not Prime Minister. About Lt Gen Faiz
    Hameed- Post his appointment as DG of ISI, Faiz replaced its current head Lieutenant General
    Asim Munir, who was appointed to head ISI only eight months ago, following the retirement of
    his predecessor Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar. He is believed to be a close aide of Pakistan’s Army
    Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. Prior to this Lt Gen Faiz previously served as the head of ISI’s
    Counter Intelligence wing. On 12 April 2019, he was promoted to the rank of Lt. General and
    later that month was named as Adjutant General at General Headquarters (GHQ). GHQ is the
    Headquarters of Pakistan Army located in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. About ISI- It was founded in
    1948 as an independent unit to strengthen Pakistan’s intelligence network. The ISI was earlier a
    part of Intelligence Bureau (IB), which handled intelligence-sharing between different branches
    of Pak’s military, as well as external intelligence gathering. In 1950, ISI was officially handed
    over the task of safeguarding Pakistani interests and national security, inside and outside
    country. Initially it was headquartered in Rawalpindi, but later HQ was moved to Islamabad. The
    ISI, with its exceptionally large say in national politics and foreign policy, is also not least in
    shaping Pakistan’s mullah-military alliance and is today among the world’s most significant
    intelligence agencies.
    22) Riva Ganguli Das, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh visited the ongoing construction
    of the India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge 1 (Feni Bridge) and land port (Ramgarh Land Port) in
    Khagrachhari, Bangladesh. Key Highlights- Background: The Feni Bridge also known as
    Maitree Setu, is a bridge being constructed over Feni River started in 2017, and it is expected to
    be completed by April 2020. In 2015 foundation of bridge was laid jointly by Indian Prime
    Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Construction: Bridge is
    being constructed by National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL)
    of Union Ministry of Road and Transport highways (MoRTH), at a cost of more than Rs.82
    crores. Economic Importance: Feni Bridge is being developed as a corridor for trade and
    commerce between India’s North-East and Bangladesh. Once opened, the bridge will connect
    Tripura with Chittagong port of Bangladesh, improve economy of hill tracts and the
    communication and trade of Bangladesh with Tripura and other regions in India will also get
    better. It will also benefit tourists visiting Tripura. It will also provide direct road connectivity
    between South Tripura and Chittagong which will allow India to use Chittagong as a port of call
    and will also help promote trade, tourism and people-to-people ties. Bridge will also facilitate
    carrying of heavy machines and goods to and from northeastern states (and rest) of India
    through Bangladesh via Chattogram. Significance of Ramgarh Land Port: It will serve as a link
    between India and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, thus will ease export-import
    procedure of businessmen and also reduce unemployment. The land port users will be able to
    save time and money by using Chittagong International Seaport and airport facilities also. It will
    be constructed with support from Indian government and will start soon after the completion of
    Feni Bridge.
    23) Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, recently announced
    that World Food India 2019 will be held at Vigyan Bhawan and Rajpath Lawns in New Delhi
    from 1st to 4th November 2019. Key Highlights- The announcement was made while Smt. Kaur
    was chairing a meeting with various stakeholders of World Food India including CEOs of major
    food processing companies and Industry Associations The meeting discussed investment
    opportunities available in India in Food Processing Sector. This meeting was followed by a 2nd
    meeting with Ambassadors or High Commissioners of leading food processing and food
    retailing countries. Objective: Meetings were held to discuss various investment opportunities
    available in India, in India’s Food Processing Sector as well as to sensitize participants about
    their participation in WFI 2019. Indian Food Processing Industry: has grown tremendously by
    recording 11% growth rate, which is two times the speed of Global Industry. The Food
    Processing sector also recorded a double digit growth rate across all major sub-segments of
    sectors both in terms of both value and volume. About WFI 2019- The WFI 2019 will be the 2nd
    edition of World Food India. This year the Union Ministry is targeting to partner with minimum 15
    countries as well as participation from at least 80 countries. Tagline of WFI 2019 event will be-
    Forging Partnerships for Growth. Events: It will consist of many top level seminars, exhibitions,
    country sessions, investment opportunities, high level CEO roundtables, B2B (Business to
    Business) and B2G (Business-to-Government) networking etc. Need: Despite huge domestic
    market (with 1.3 billion customers and youngest global population) along with abundant
    agricultural base, the processing levels in India still remain low at 7.7% behind economies such
    as China, Malaysia and United States. India’s has the share of only 2% in exports of processed
    food globally.  Food processing is critical to achieve Prime Minister’s vision of doubling farmers’
    income in India and reducing food wastage. Significance: WPI 2019 event will be the biggest
    gathering of all global and domestic stakeholders in Food Processing Sector and will position
    India as Food Processing Destination of the World. Background: The Indian government
    initiated World Food India (WFI) as a biennial event, to promote food processing sector at global
    level. 1st edition of WFI was held in 2017. The event received global success and created
    Brand India in global food map by positioning India as a World Food Factory. In WFI 2017 over
    61 countries, ministers from several countries, Indian states and UTs participated, more than
    8,000 B2B meetings held and MoUs worth USD 14 Billion were signed.
    24) The Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the highest decision-making body of
    Department of Telecom (DoT), has approved levying of penalty on Bharti Airtel Ltd. and
    Vodafone Idea Ltd. for denial of interconnection to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. when the latter
    had entered market in 2016. Key Highlights- Despite the approval for imposing penalty, the
    inter-ministerial panel of DCC has asked Telecom Regulatory authority of India (TRAI) to review
    penalty amount worth 3,050 crore considering the financial stress in telecom sector. No
    Troubling Users: However, TRAI recommended penalty, instead of revoking operator’s license
    so as to avoid consumer inconvenience. The telecom regulator while recommended a fine for
    Airtel and Vodafone amounting to 1,050 crore each and for Idea it was 950 crore but since
    Vodafone and Idea have now merged to form Vodafone-Idea (becoming largest telecom carrier
    in India), the new entity will have to bear the combined burden. Background: In October 2016,
    TRAI recommended total penalty of 3,050 crore on 3 Telephone Company namely Airtel,
    Vodafone and Idea, for violating their licence agreement and denial of interconnection to newer
    entrant Reliance Jio which complained that more than 75% of calls on its Jio network failed as
    its rivals did not releasing sufficient number of points of interconnect (PoI). TRAI also upheld
    that the act of 3 operators was against public interest and in violation of their licence agreement,
    which warrants revocation of operator’s licence. Since then TRAI’s decision had followed a
    prolonged battle between telecos- Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Celluar.
    Reliance Jio alleged that its subscribers were unable to make calls to other networks
    (Airtel/Vodafone/Idea) as those operators were not providing adequate inter connection points.
    About Digital Communications Commission- DCC was formerly called ‘Telecom Commission’. It
    is the top decision-making body in Department of Telecommunications (DoT), under Union
    Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Members: Telecom secretary is ex-
    officio chairperson of DCC. The full-time members of panel include DoT’s Additional Secretary,
    Member (finance), Member (services) and Member (technology). The part-time members of
    body are NITI Aayog’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Department of Economic Affairs (DEA)
    secretary and Ministry of Electronics and IT secretary.
    25) In a tit-for-tat trade battle between the United States (US) and India, latter imposed higher tariffs
    on 28 American goods including almonds, apples and walnut in retaliation to US tariffs. Key
    Highlights- Among targeted US products imported, the custom duty on walnut is increased from
    30% to 120%, and on chickpeas, masur dal and Bengal gram (chana) has been raised from
    30% to 70%. India is expected to get about $220 million of additional revenue from the new
    tarriffs on items imported from the US. Just minutes before the tariffs came into force, the
    government dropped only one item called artemia, a type of shrimp from the tariff list. About
    India-US Trade War- Background: Initially the retaliatory tariff by India, were triggered by US
    announcing higher duties on Indian steel and aluminium in 2018 but were deferred multiple
    times in view of possible trade dialogue between the two countries. Current Scenario: Lately,
    India had decided to levy higher tariffs following America’s withdrawal of $5.6 billion trade
    concessions given to India by US under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)
    programme in June 2019 which benefitted Indian Exports. This move comes ahead of meetings
    between Donald Trump, President of United States and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at
    upcoming G20 summit on June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan. Concern: The strain in trade relation
    between two economies (India-US) comes at a time when the global economic growth rate is
    projected to slow down as trade tensions among other major economies (like between US and
    China) weighs on business confidence and investments. The International Monetary Fund’s
    (IMF) World Economic Outlook (WEO, a biannual survey that is partly updated twice a year) in
    April 2019 forecasted a downfall in global growth to 3.3% for 2019, down from the 3.5% in
    January 2019. Way Ahead: Also, by the end of June 2019 US Secretary of State (SoS) Mike
    Pompeo will be visiting India for bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar External
    Affairs Minister. Ahead of meet Mike stated that US was open to discussions on the Generalized
    System of Preferences (GSP).

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 15 June 2019 To 21 June 2019.
    26) Starting from 16 May 2019, the armies of India and Myanmar carried out a 3-week-long
    coordinated operation in their respective border areas called ‘Operation Sunrise 2’ to bust terror
    camps. The operation was targeted at militant groups operating in Manipur, Nagaland and
    Assam. This was the 2nd edition of Operation Sunrise. Key Highlights- Participants: From Indian
    side besides Indian Army, troops from Assam Rifles were also part of operation. Operation
    Against: During Operation Sunrise 2, the armies of India and Myanmar coordinated with each
    other to bust camps of several militant outfits, including NSCN-K (National Socialist Council of
    Nagaland-Khaplang), Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), United Liberation Front of
    Assam (ULFA) (I) and National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB). Result: Atleast 6 dozen
    militants belonging to the groups mentioned were nabbed and some of their camps were
    destroyed during operation. Background: In June 2015, days after NSCN-(K) militants killed 18
    armymen in Manipur, Indian Army carried out an operation against the militants near Indo-
    Myanmar border areas. Since then operations against militants are actively undertaken.
    According to data provided by security agencies, there were more than 50 camps of insurgent
    groups from north-east in Myanmar till 2018. First phase of Operation Sunrise- The ‘Operation
    Sunrise 1’ was conducted 3 months ago (February 2019) along the Indo-Myanmar border,
    during which a number of camps of north-east-based militant groups were busted. In 1st phase
    of operation, Indian Army targeted members of Arakan Army (Myanmar’s insurgent group) who
    were opposed to Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which is viewed as India’s
    gateway to Southeast Asia. India-Myanmar- Boundary: Four Northeast states of India share a
    1,640-km long border with Myanmar with Myanmar namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and
    militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur. Thus, Myanmar is one of the strategic neighbours of India.
    For much efficient guarding of sensitive border, India for long has been pushing for a deeper
    coordination between armies of two countries while. Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport
    Project: In April 2008, India entered into a framework agreement with Myanmar to facilitate
    implementation of Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport project which once completed project
    will help connect north-eastern state of Mizoram with Sittwe Port in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
    While on Indian side, work is on to extend Aizawl-Saiha National Highway (in Mizoram) by 90
    km to international border at Zorinpui. Way Ahead: The armies of two countries might launch
    3rd phase of operation, depending on intelligence inputs and the ground situation.
    27) Denmark’s Inger Andersen recently took charge as the new Executive Director (ED) of United
    Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She will hold the designation for period of 4-years.
    About Inger Andersen- Inger is a Danish economist and environmentalist with over 30 years of
    experience in international development economics, environmental sustainability and policy-
    making. Now as ED of UNEP she brings to the role a passion for conservation and sustainable
    development. Nomination: She was nominated for the ED post by United Nation’s Secretary-
    General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres and approved by UN General Assembly (UNGA) in February
    2019. Succeeded: She took over the charge from Joyce Msuya of Tanzania, who served as
    acting head of UNEP since late 2018. Msuya will now continue as Deputy Executive Director.
    Previous Appointments: IUCN- She has served as Director General of International Union for
    Conservation of Nature (IUCN) between January 2015 and May 2019. World Bank– Before
    joining IUCN, she held various leadership roles at World Bank (WB) such as- served as WB’s
    Vice President of Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Vice President for Sustainable
    Development and Head of Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers Fund
    Council (IARCFC). Even before joining World Bank, she worked at the UN for over 12 years.
    About UN Environment Programme: It was founded by Maurice Strong (UNEP’s 1st director)
    and was established as a result of United Nations Conference on Human Environment (or the
    Stockholm Conference) on 5 June 1972. It is headquartered in Nairobi (capital of Kenya) and
    also has 6 regional offices and various country offices. Function: It is a UN agency that provides
    leadership and encourages partnership in caring for environment and is also responsible for
    coordinating UN’s environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing
    environmentally sound policies and practices.
    28) Namaste Thailand Film Festival, a two day event was held in Delhi from 15 June to 16 June
    2019. This year was the 3rd edition of Thai film extravaganza event that celebrates Thai
    Culture’s Diversity. Key Highlights- Objective: The Namaste Thailand film festival is an annual
    festival that is held with the aim of celebrating uniqueness and diversity of Thai culture. It also
    seeks to continue the endeavour of bridging the gap between cultures of India and Thailand.
    Organiser: It was organised by Royal Thai Embassy and was inaugurated by Mr. Chutintorn
    Gongsakdi, Ambassador of Thailand to India. Features: The film festival featured 6 specially
    curated movies which displayed culture and tradition of Thailand in different ways. These films
    were chosen on basis of various age-groups and genre and were screened with English
    subtitles. The film festival kick started with superhit Thai romantic comedy, Friend Zone at PVR
    Select Citywalk ine New Delhi. The film depicts a grey zone where relationships are trapped in
    between being friends and lovers. Other movies showcased at event include- 2,215, Homestay,
    The Promise, and The Legend of Muay Thai: 9 Satra and another romantic comedy Suddenly
    Twenty. Facts about Thailand- Official Name– Kingdom of Thailand. The short form Thailand
    means Land of the Free. Until the year 1949, the country’s name used was “Siam”. Geography:
    It is located in heart of mainland Southeast Asia (SEA). It is a country of mountains, hills, plains
    and a long coastline along Gulf of Thailand (1,875 km) and Andaman Sea (740 km). Thailand
    shares its borders with Lao PDR and Myanmar to north; Lao PDR and Cambodia to the east;
    Malaysia to the south and Myanmar to the west. It is a Bi-cameral Parliamentary democracy
    with a constitutional monarchy.
    29) The second edition of India International Mega Trade fair (IIMTF) was inaugurated on 15 June
    at Bidhannagar (or Salt Lake) city in Kolkata. It is a 10-day-long event which will continue till
    June 23. Key Highlights- Objective: The event seeks to promote business and trade around the
    region as well as to encourage joint ventures, tie-ups and investment in the country. It is
    Kolkata’s largest and most popular retail event. It also works as a platform to promote Indian
    brands for international markets. Participants: IIMTF showcases foreign products and sees
    participation from Central Government, State Government, various other Ministries,
    Departments & Public Sector Units (PSU), Ministries of Foreign countries etc. Various countries
    have set up pavilions in fair including participants from Bangladesh, Thailand, Turkey, Pakistan,
    Afghanistan and India. Organiser:  The event is jointly organised by the Bengal Chamber of
    Commerce and Industry (BCC&I) and G S Marketing. The fair supports variety of industries
    such as  Food and Beverages, Home Supplies, Personal Care Products, Lifestyle, Electronics,
    Electricals, Food, Jute, Handicrafts, Handlooms, Cosmetics, Tourism, IT, Finance, International
    Products, furniture, etc. Significance: Donning its multiple roles as service provider, catalyst,
    initiator, facilitator and business partner, Chamber has helped Governments (both at Centre and
    State) in crafting pioneering and significant legislations. About India International Mega Trade
    Fair- Background: IIMTF was first founded in 1994. Since its inception it has evolved as a major
    event for business community throughout the country. From past 25 years the fair is organised
    by Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry and GS Associates. It first took place at Kolkata
    but adapting to growth of visitors in fair the exhibition now takes place in different cities such as
    Visakhapatnam, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, etc. It is a B2B (Business to Business) and B2C
    (Business to Customer) exhibition.
    30) The International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) is observed every year all across the world
    on 16 June. The day recognizes the contributions made by more than 200 million migrants
    towards improving the lives of their 800 million family members back home, and also to create a
    future of hope for their children. About International Day of Family Remittances- Background:
    IDFR is a universally-recognized observance adopted by United Nations General Assembly’s
    (UNGA) resolution A/RES/72/281. Objective: Through the observance of IDFR, the United
    Nations (UN) seeks to create greater awareness about impact remittances have on millions of
    households, as well as on communities, countries, and entire regions. IDFR also calls upon
    governments, private sector entities, and civil society, to find ways that can maximize impact of
    contributions made in form of remittances by individuals and collective actions. Custodian: The
    custodian of IDFR towards these objectives is United Nations International Fund for Agricultural
    Development (IFAD). IFAD supports #FamilyRemittances2030 Campaign, to allow all
    stakeholders to endorse the values day represents and to showcase their engagement.
    Significance: IFDR furthers 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable
    Development Goals (SDGs). The day is fully recognized at global level, as well as included as
    one of key initiatives to implement newly-adopted Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and
    Regular Migration (GSM), which also calls for financial inclusion through remittances, reduction
    of remittance transfer costs, and covering all dimensions of international migration in a holistic
    and comprehensive manner. About IFAD- It is an specialized United Nations (UN) agency that
    was one of the major outcomes of World Food Conference 1974. Later in 1977, it was set up as
    an international financial institution. It is based in Rome (Italy), which is considered to be UN’s
    food and agriculture hub. Since 1978, IFAD have provided US$18.5 billion in grants and low-
    interest loans to projects that have reached to more than 464 million people. What is
    Remittance? It is a transfer of money, commonly by a foreign worker to an individual in their
    home country. The money sent home by migrants (working in foreign country) competes with
    international aid as one of the largest financial inflows to developing countries. India is the
    world’s top recipient of remittances.
    31) Suman Rao from Rajasthan won the Femina Miss India World 2019 beauty pageant during a
    ceremony held at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Indoor Stadium in Mumbai. She was crowned as
    Miss India 2019 by her predecessor Miss India 2018, Tamil Nadu’s Anukreethy Vas. Suman has
    now become 56th Miss India. Key Highlights about Event- Other Titles: Chhattisgarh’s Shivani
    Jadhav an engineer by qualification clinched Femina Miss Grand India 2019 title and Bihar’s
    Shreya Shanker, a management student won Miss India United Continents 2019 title during
    grand finale of beauty pageant. Sanjana Vij of Telangana was titled as Miss India Runner Up
    2019. Judges: for prestigious event included Miss World 2018 Vanessa Ponca de leon, Remo
    D’Souza (Bollywood choreographer) along with actress Huma Qureshi, Chitrangada Singh,
    Falguni Shane Peacock (fashion designer duo), sprinter Dutee Chand and Sunil Chhetri, Indian
    footballer among others. Performance: The event also saw the dance performances by film
    stars like Katrina Kaif, Nora Fatehi, Vicky Kaushal and Mouni Roy. Hosts: for event were
    Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar, actor Manish Paul along with Manushi Chillar, Miss World
    2017. About Suman Rao- The 20-year-old Suman is a resident of Rajsamand, Rajasthan. She
    is currently pursuing a course in Charted Accountancy (CA) from New Delhi along with B.com.
    She will next represent India at Miss World 2019 in Pattaya, Bangkok in Thailand on December
    32) India will be celebrating this year the 20th anniversary of Operation Vijay also called Kargil Vijay
    Diwas for over three days from 25 July to 27 July 2019 at Dras and New Delhi.  The day is
    observed to commemorate victory in Kargil war with pride, honour and inspiration. The day will
    be celebrated with theme- Remember, Rejoice and Renew. Key Highlights- Objective: to evoke
    feeling of nationalism and patriotism especially amongst youth with scheduled nationwide
    campaigns and also to pay homage to valiant soldiers. Remembrance: The Kargil conflict will
    forever be remembered for its strategic and tactical surprises, self-imposed national strategy of
    restraint (because of which war was kept limited to only Kargil-Siachen Sectors) and also swiftly
    executed tri-services military strategy and plans. It will also be remembered for determination,
    courage, daring junior leadership and raw courage of our jawans at tactical level. Celebrations:
    The celebrations in National Capital of India will begin from 14th of July, with the lightning of a
    Victory Flame from National War Memorial, New Delhi, which will travel across 11 towns and
    cities, to finally culminate at Dras (a town in Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir) wherein the
    flame will be merged with the eternal flame at Kargil War Memorial, which is built by Indian
    Army. On Kargil Vijay Diwas, a Wreath Memorial Ceremony will also be organized at site of
    Kargil War Memorial in Dras to honour brave-hearts who laid down their lives during the
    Operation Vijay. Events: The events are planned to highlight stories of valour by brave soldiers
    of this country and rekindle the pride among India’s youth. Various events being organised
    includes- Expeditions by units which participated in Kargil War to their respective battlefields at
    high altitude locations such as Tololing, Tiger Hill, Pt 4875 etc. Special National Integration
    Camp for NCC Cadets hailing from various States and Union Territories (UT). Ek Daud
    Shaheedon Ke Naam by People of Ladakh, in which citizens from remotest corner of region and
    brave war veterans from far-flung villages of Ladakh will participate. T-20 Cricket
    Championship- in Ladakh region in NDS Memorial Stadium (at 11500 ft). The teams form Indian
    Army, Indian Air Force, ITBP and local clubs from entire Ladakh region will participate in
    tournament. Kargil Vijay Diwas Evening- a cultural extravaganza on 27 July 2019, at Indira
    Gandhi Indoor Stadium will be attended by the dignitaries. About Kargil War- It was an armed
    conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in Kargil district
    of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and elsewhere along Line of Control (LOC). In India the conflict is
    also popularly known as Operation Vijay (meaning Victory) which was the name of Indian
    operation to clear Kargil sector.
    33) K. Sivan, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently announced that the
    country is planning to launch its own space station and modalities for it will be worked out after
    Gaganyaan Mission (India’s maiden manned mission to space). Key Highlights- Mastering
    Technology: Although ISRO made announcement of space station recently but it has been
    quietly working on a key technology such as space docking & berthing technology for which it
    has also got Rs.10 crore sanctioned earlier. Once the agency will master this technology it will
    help join two separate free-flying space vehicles and also transfer materials and humans from
    one another that will enable this future space station and is also the key for a space station.
    Extension: India’s space station project will be an extension of Gaganyaan Mission, which
    involves sending three Indian astronauts to space for 7 days in lower earth orbit (of 120-400
    km). The government has already approved a cost of Rs.10,000 crore for Gaganyaan mission.
    Before the maiden flight with crew sometime in August 2022, there would be two unmanned
    (without crew) flights from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The detailed project report on setting up
    India’s space station will also be submitted to government after Gaganyaan. No Collaboration:
    India will not be collaborating with any other country for its space station project. United States
    (US), Russia, China and a consortium of nations that own the International Space Station (ISS)
    are the only countries that have had space stations so far. After its successful launch India
    would become 4th country to launch a space station. Features: The proposed space station is
    anticipated to weigh about 20 tonnes, it would be placed in an orbit 400 km above earth and will
    serve as a facility where astronauts can stay for upto 15-20 days in space. India is targeting
    2030 as the date to launch country’s space station which will most likely be used to conduct
    microgravity experiments. It is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by India.
    What is a space station? It is a spacecraft that designed to remain in space for an extended
    period of time and can be used for other spacecraft to dock as well as capable of supporting
    crew members, the most commonly known being the International Space Station (ISS).
    International Space Station: It is a habitable artificial satellite in low earth orbit (LEO). It is the
    largest human-made body in LEO that completes multiple orbits around Earth every day thus
    can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth. Its first component was launched into orbit in
    1998 and since then it has been inhabited continuously.
    34) The National Geographic Society (NGS), a US based non-profit scientific and educational
    organizations announced successful installation of world’s highest operating weather stations on
    Mount Everest. This installation was part of National Geographic and Rolex’s Perpetual Planet
    Extreme Expedition to Everest. Key Highlights- Climate scientists and the multi-disciplinary
    team created the history by installing world’s highest operating weather station at Mount
    Everest’s Death Zone, some other automated stations on other parts of the mountain. Station
    Locations: These world’s two highest operating automated weather stations (a 7-foot- building)
    were installed at Balcony area (8,430 m) and South Col (7,945 m)that can withstand extreme
    winds and cold weather. Three other weather stations were also placed on Mount Everest at
    Camp II (6,464 m), Everest Base Camp(5,315 m) and Phortse (3,810 m). Balcony area weather
    station is first weather station installed at elevation of more than 8,000 metres thus it will also be
    1st to sample stratosphere. It is significant as natural variations in atmospheric boundaries
    change over time. Functions: It will provide researchers, climbers, and public with near real-time
    information about mountain conditions. Each weather station will record data on temperature,
    relative humidity (amount of water vapour present in air), barometric pressure, wind speed, as
    well as wind direction.  They will also give scientists direct observations to understand jet
    stream, and will help them understand how the Himalayas are getting affected by climate
    change. Data so collected from these weather stations will help communities respond to climate
    risks that threaten lives and livelihoods of more than 1 billion people in region. Significance: The
    stations installation is aimed at breaking new grounds in monitoring and understanding of
    climate change as they will help continuously monitor upper reaches of atmosphere (such as
    stratosphere), which is critical to tracking and predicting weather patterns around the world.
    National Geographic and Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition to Everest- It was
    multipurpose scientific expedition held from April to June 2019. It was most comprehensive
    single scientific expedition to mountain in history. It included International team of scientists,
    climbers and story-tellers, led by researchers from National Geographic Society (NGS) and
    Tribhuvan University in Nepal and supported in partnership with Rolex. The series of
    experiments that were part of expedition included collecting ice core samples (at 8020 metres)
    from highest point ever and performing a helicopter-based LIDAR scan from most extreme
    height ever accomplished.

    Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Current Affairs – 15 June 2019 To 21 June 2019.
    35) Multiple times world champion Peter Gilchrist defeated India’s Sourav Kothari in final to win the
    2019 Pacific International Billiards Championship played at the Yarraville Club in Melbourne,
    Australia. Key Highlights- Reigning WBL world billiards champion from Kolkata Sourav Kothari
    lost a back-to-back title against veteran Peter Gilchrist of Singapore who won the 2019 Pacific
    International Billiards Championship with a commanding display. Kothari entered into the final of
    Pacific International Billiards after winning over Dhvaj Haria in Semi-Finals. But in final Peter
    Gilchrist was at his best to tame Indian cueist with 1500-706. With this win Gilchrist avenged his
    2018 WBL World Billiards Championship defeat in the finals in Leeds in England, UK. In early
    June 2019, Kothari had become the 1st Indian billiard player to win a Triple Crown event by
    bagging the International Reventon Classic Snooker Championship, a Triple Crown event of
    Australia. About Peter Gilchrist- He is a 50 year old English-born Singaporean English billiards
    player. He has won World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) World
    Championships in 1994, 2001 and in 2013. He holds the world record for highest break in
    billiards (1346) under modern rules, at New Zealand Open Billiards Championships in 2013. He
    is the only player of modern era who have scored more than one 1000 points in tournament
    36) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to ensure their ATMs (Automated Teller
    Machines) are grouted to a structure preferably wall, pillar, or floor by 30 September 2019 in a
    move to enhance security of cash vending machines. Key Highlights- Background: In October
    2016, RBI had set up a Committee on Currency Movement (CCM), under the chairmanship of D
    K Mohanty, RBI’s executive director to review the entire gamut of security of treasure in transit.
    Based on the recommendations of Mohanty panel, RBI has now issued instructions aimed at
    enhancing security and mitigating risks in ATM operations. Key Recommendations: ATM
    Grouting: All ATMs shall be grouted to a structure (wall/pillar/floor) by end of September 2019,
    except for those ATMs which are installed in highly secured premises (ex- airports) or places
    which have adequate CCTV coverage and are guarded by state or central security personnel.
    Digital Locks: As part of security measures undertaken by the central bank all ATMs shall be
    operated for cash replenishment only with digital One Time Combination (OTC) locks. e-
    Surveillance Mechanism: Banks may also roll out a comprehensive e-surveillance mechanism
    at ATMs to ensure timely alerts and quick response. Additional Instruction: These newly
    recommended measures are to be adopted by banks shall be in addition to existing instructions,
    practices and guidance issued by RBI and other law enforcement agencies. Penalty: RBI has
    also warned all banks that non-adherence of timelines as well as non-observance of these
    instructions would lead to regulatory action including levy of strict penalty.

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