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Daily Current Affairs: 24th October 2019: The Hindu+PIB

Daily Current Affairs: 24th October 2019: The Hindu+PIB

The following compilation has been made keeping in mind the need of the UPSC IAS exam. Each and every topic which has been included in this compilation is taken from very authentic and relevant source including The Hindu, The Indian Express, Business Standard, Press Information Bureau, etc.

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As per the evolving pattern of the UPSC IAS prelims and mains exam each and every topic has been handpicked keeping in mind the syllabus of the exam.


Context: Approval for the proposal for Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation between India and the United States of America has been given by Union Cabinet.

India-US, Daily Current Affairs: 24th October 2019: The Hindu+PIB

What are the salient features of the Agreement?

The cooperation shall be made in the multiple forms which include the following:

  • Exchanges of scientific & technical information and experts.
  • Convening of seminars and meetings.
  • Training of scientists and technical experts.
  • Conduct of cooperative research projects.
  • Establishment of science & innovation-based public-private partnerships.
  • Use of advance research facilities.

What are the benefits associated with the agreement?

Firstly, a new phase of development in bilateral relations will be opened up with the help of this agreement as both sides will leverage complementary strengths boosted by a significant convergence of mutual interests in science and technology.

Secondly, the Agreement is going to provide an opportunity to promote ‘high quality’ and ‘high impact’ research and innovation partnerships as well as broadening and expanding relationships between the extensive scientific and technological communities. 


Context: An administrative arrangement on Cooperation in the field of Railways between the Ministry of Railways, India and the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission to strengthen future technical exchanges and cooperation has been approved by the Union Cabinet.


Ministry of Railways have signed MoU/MoCs for technical cooperation in the rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways in respect of identified areas of cooperation, which, inter alia, include high speed rail, speed raising of existing routes, development of world class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure etc.  

The cooperation is achieved through exchange of information in respect of developments in railway technology and operations, knowledge sharing, technical visits, training & seminars and workshops in areas of mutual interest.

The MoUs/MoCs provide a platform for signatories to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector and thereby facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.

Key highlights of Implementation Strategy

Following key areas are to be provided with this Administrative Arrangement as a framework of cooperation for focus:
  • Rail Reform and Regulations with particular emphasis on impact of EU legislative framework on safety, interoperability, economic governance and financial sustainability of Railways;
  • Railway Safety;
  • The benefits of standardisation as well as harmonized conformity assessment and procurement procedures for economic performance of Railways;
  • Signalling/control systems (including the European ERTMS system);
  • Intermodality and transport infrastructure networks;
  • Innovation and digitalisation;
  • Experience sharing in respect of international rail conventions and standardisation bodies;
  • Sustainable policies in railway including economic, social and environmental aspects.

National Panchayat Awards 2019

Context: Out of the 2.5 lakh panchayats in the country 240 panchayats were confered the National Panchayat Awards 2019.

The Best performing Panchayats were selected based on various criteria and indicators. This incentivization encourages Panchayat representatives who make special efforts; creates models for other Panchayats and Gram Sabhas to follow and focuses public attention on Panchayats’ performance, which encourages all Panchayats to improve their performance. Finally, this creates an eco-system for overall good governance at the local level.

The Awards were given under the following categories:
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar (DDUPSP): It is given to best performing Panchayats (District, Intermediate and Gram) in recognition of the good work done for improving delivery of services and public goods. DDUPSPs are given for general and following nine thematic categories:
    • Sanitation
    • Civic Services (drinking water, street light, infrastructure)
    • Natural Resource Management
    • Serving Marginalized Section (women, SC/ST, disabled, senior citizen)
    • Social Sector Performance
    • Disaster Management
    • CBOs/ Individuals taking voluntary actions to support Gram Panchayats
    • Innovation in revenue generation
    • e-Governance

  • Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar (NDRGGSP): This is given to Gram Panchayats (GPs) for their outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development by involving Gram Sabhas. 
  • Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) Award: It was introduced during the year 2018, this award is conferred to best performing Gram Panchayats (GPs) across the country which have developed their GDPs according to the State/UT specific guidelines prepared in line with the model guidelines issued by Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award: This award has been instituted during the year 2018-19 for best performing GPs/Village Councils (VCs) (one in each State/UT) for adopting child-friendly practices.
  • e-Panchayat Puraskar is given to States/UTs or promoting e-enablement of PRIs for bringing in efficiency, transparency and accountability in their functioning. The major aim of this award is to encourage the Panchayats for the use of information and communication technology and to incentivize those States/UTs, which have made dedicated efforts in adopting and implementing the e-Panchayat Applications and enabling electronic delivery of services through Panchayats & equivalent rural bodies. The States/UTs are analyzed on the basis of the performance assessment parameters.

Ease of Doing Business Report 2019

Context: The World Bank has recently released its Ease of Doing Business Report 2019 recently.

The indicator measures the performance of countries from around the world across 10 different dimensions in the 12-month period. These 10 areas of study are:
  • Starting a Business
  • Dealing with construction permits
  • Getting electricity
  • Registering property
  • Getting credit
  • Protecting minority investors
  • Paying taxes
  • Trading across borders
  • Enforcing contracts
  • Resolving insolvancy
  • An 11th area-employing workers is measured but not factored into the score.
The 0-100 score measures any given country's performance w.r.t. the best practice across the entire set of countries.

Key Findings of the report

India placed 63rd out of 190 countries - an improvement of 14 places from its 77th position last year. This year, the country's score improved from 67.3 to 71.0.

India - for the 3rd consecutive year - is also featured in the list of 10 economies where business climates had improved the most. The list comprises: 

Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, China and Nigeria apart from India.

The top 10 countries with respect to the indicator were:
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Republic of Korea
  • US
  • Georgia
  • UK
  • Norway
  • Sweden
Somalia has retained its 190th spot.

As far as India's neighbourhood is concerned, Pakistan carried out the most reforms in South Asia. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Afghanistan made zero regulatory changes.

Snow Leopard

Context: First national protocol to enumerate Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India has been recently launched.

Snow Leopard enumeration of the Nation, which is the first of its kind, has been developed by scientific experts in association with the Snow Leopard States/UTs namely, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunanchal Pradesh.

India has a vast tiger population with 2967 tigers i.e. 77 per cent of world’s tiger population residing in the country, wherein 26000 cameras were used to enumerate the near exact number. India is also home to 500 plus lions, 30000 plus elephants, 2500 plus single-horned rhinos.

It should be noted that Snow Leopard is found in 12 countries. They are India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Right to Know Coalition

Context: On Monday, the front page of all Australian newspaper carried text that was blacked out — as if it had been redacted by the government. The newspapers’ move was followed by a blackout on prime time TV slots.

What is the Issue?

The decision to ‘censor’ the front page was carried out by a media coalition across print, TV, radio and online portals, called the “Right to Know”.

Australia’s Right to Know coalition includes Nine, News Corp, the ABC, SBS, The Guardian, and journalists’ union the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

The coalition has following key proposals for protections of public-interest journalism:
  • The right to contest search warrants.
  • Protections for whistleblowers.
  • Exemptions to protect journalists from prosecution under a number of national security laws.
  • Overhaul of defamation law to adapt to the digital era.
  • Changes to Freedom of information (FOI) law to reduce the significant delays, obstacles, cost and exemptions that allow government agencies to prevent disclosure.
Media organisations in Australia have been concerned about threats to journalism following two consecutive police raids earlier this year. The police actions highlighted a perceived rise of cultural secrecy and legal restrictions that impinge on media freedom in Australia.

Environmental Flow for Ganga

Context: Union Government has advanced the deadline for implementation of ecological flow notification for ganga – which came into effect in October 2018 – from October 2021 to December 2019.

What are the key norms for minimum environmental flow (e-flow) for Ganga?

The e-flows are the acceptable flow regimes that are required to maintain a river in the desired environmental state.

The e-flow notification specifies that the upper stretches of the Ganga — from its origins in the glaciers and until Haridwar — would have to maintain:
  • 20% of the monthly average flow of the preceding 10-days between November and March, which is the dry season;
  • 25% of the average during the ‘lean season’ of October, April and May; and
  • 30% of monthly average during the monsoon months of June-September.

Any dam or structure meant for diversion of river flows for the purpose of irrigation, hydro-power and domestic or industrial use will now have to maintain the minimum flow. However, mini and micro projects, which do not alter the flow significantly are exempted.

The Central Water Commission (CWC) is the designated authority for supervision, monitoring, regulation of flows. Power projects will be assessed by the CWC quarterly for compliance after December 2019.

The central government through National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) may direct release of additional water in the river Ganga to meet special demand as and when required.

19th Non-Alignment Movement Summit

Context: Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu is going to represent India at the 19th Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Baku, Azerbaijan on October 25 and 26, marking the second time in a row that PM Modi will miss the summit.

In 2016 as well, India was represented by then Vice-President at the NAM summit in Venezuela.

Since it was inaugurated in 1961, the Indian Prime Minister has always attended the NAM summit, except in 1979, when Chaudhury Charan Singh was the caretaker PM and hence missed it, and in 2016.

Modi’s absence indicates a decisive move away from past practice at the 60-year-old organisation that India was a founding member of, by the NDA government.

About Bandung Principles:

The theme for the XVIII NAM Summit is “Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world”.

The 10 Principles of Bandung, a political statement encapsulating the need to promote world peace and cooperation were formulated at the Asian-African Conference in 1955.

The theme is significant as it relates to the forthcoming 65th anniversary of Bandung Principles in 2020 and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Movement in 2021.

India is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which was established in 1961 with 29 members. It has since grown to 120 members to become one of the largest groupings of nation-states.

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