Current affairs of june 29 2019

1. MHRD unveiled a five-year vision plan EQUIP to transform higher education

The central government has been trying its best to improve the standard of higher education in the country. There have been many efforts in this direction and the results have been expected to be better. In the same concern, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has made a five-year vision plan for higher education in the country. The vision plan has been released by the government yesterday i.e. June 28. This vision plan has been very ambitious and this shows that the government is keen on making higher education better.

2. Central Government approved a pilot scheme on fortification of rice and its distribution through PDS

A centrally-sponsored pilot scheme on fortification of rice and its dispersal through Public Distribution System (PDS) has been approved by the government, the Women and Child Development Ministry said on Thursday. Fortification is a complementary strategy to fight malnutrition under which the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, vitamins A & D to staple foods such as rice, wheat, oil, milk, and salt are done to improve their nutritional content.

3. Rs 450 crore National Mission on Natural Language Translation to be tabled before Union Cabinet

The Ministry of Electronics and IT will soon place before the Union Cabinet a ₹450 crore proposal for Natural Language Translation — one of the key missions identified by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC). The proposal is part of the 100-day action plan charted out by MeitY, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s instructions. The national mission on natural language translation aims to make science and technology accessible to all by facilitating access to teaching and researching material bilingually — in English and in one’s native Indian language. To achieve this, the government plans to leverage a combination of machine translation and human translation.

4. The flow of raw sewage into river Ganga will be stopped by 2022

Union Minister for Jal Shakti Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat today asserted that flow of raw sewage into the river Ganga will be completely stopped by 2022 and the government is working on a Mission Mode to achieve this target. Addressing a National Conference-cum-Exhibition & Awards- “Innovative Water Solutions” here, the Minister said that the States of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand have already achieved this feat and promised to make Ganga fit for holy rituals by this December. He said, everybody from common men to Corporates has to come on board to achieve this mission, as India can’t afford the duality of the scarcity of safe drinking water on one hand and wastage of 25 odd liters of water in a shower bath. Shri Shekhawat said that he is ready to sit with the Corporates to chalk out a viable strategy for industrial use of water and discharge of untreated industrial waste into the rivers. He also asked ASSOCHAM to find out what portion of CSR funds are being spent on water issues, which he pointed out that it is a meager 3 percent.

5. Meeting of Expert Working Group of Paris Pact Initiative of UNODC held in New Delhi

The Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance is hosting a Meeting of Expert Working Group on Paris Pact Initiative on Illicit Financial Flows deriving from the trafficking of Opiates originating in Afghanistan. The Meeting consists of Sessions spread over two days on 27th and 28th  June 2019 and is being organized with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crimes (UNODC). The Meeting will be inaugurated by the Additional Secretary, Revenue Mr. Anil Kumar Jha and will be attended by the representatives of the Member Countries of Paris Pact, Regional Representatives of UNODC and Senior Officers of the Indian agencies like DRI, ED and NCB involved in countering the money laundering/illicit financial flows related to drug trafficking.

6. Centre constituted a 3-member panel to resolve differences between solar and wind power players

As India moves towards greater adoption of renewable power in the energy mix, a dispute resolution committee has been formed to consider unforeseen disputes between public and private players. Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (Independent Charge) R K Singh approved the formation of a three-member dispute resolution committee to consider the disputes between private solar and wind power developers and public sector Solar Energy Corporation of India and NTPC Ltd beyond contractual agreement. The members of the committee under this mechanism will be former Heavy Industry Secretary M F Farooqui, former Coal Secretary Anil Swarup and former Sports Secretary A K Dubey, according to an official statement issued on Thursday.

7. India & China vow to seek Mutually Acceptable Solution to Boundary Issue

India and China have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question through negotiations, the government informed Rajya Sabha on Thursday. In a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said China disputes the international boundary between India and China. "Indian territory under the occupation of China in Jammu & Kashmir is approximately 38,000 sq. km. In addition, under the so-called China-Pakistan 'boundary agreement' signed between China and Pakistan on 2 March 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq. km of Indian territory in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to China," the minister said.

8. All gram panchayats Broadband Connectivity under BharatNet by March 2020

All panchayats will be provided high-speed broadband connections under BharatNet project by March 2020, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed Parliament Thursday. “The Phase II of the project is under implementation, and a total of 2 lakh GPs (gram panchayats) are targeted to be completed by March 2020,” Prasad said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. The government connected 1 lakh gram panchayats under phase 1 of BharatNet project.

9. President’s rule in J&K extended for 6 more months

Earlier in the year, citing security considerations, the Election Commission held a three-phase election for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in Kashmir, creating a history of sorts. Rajya Sabha today approved for an extension of President's rule in Jammu and Kashmir for a further period of six months with effect from Wednesday (July 3, 2019). Earlier today, the statutory resolution on extending President's rule by another six months with effect from July 3, 2019, and Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was approved by the lower house.

10. High-Level Group headed by Dr. Surjit S. Bhalla recommendations for Trade and Policy

High-Level Advisory Group (HLAG) headed by Dr. Surjit S. Bhalla has been constituted by the Department of Commerce. The HLAG has made several recommendations for boosting India’s share and importance in global merchandise and services trade. Among other things, the Report identifies tax reforms also to boost export and investment channels for exports. The Committee has recommended “Elephant Bonds” as a specialized security product providing funds towards Long Term Infrastructure.

11. Saudi Arabia increased India’s Haj quota by 30,000

In a significant step, Saudi Arabia has increased India’s Haj quota from 170,000 to 200,000, paving the way for 30,000 more Indians to go for the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in the kingdom. The issue of India’s Haj quota was discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral talks with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman here. Modi, who is in Japan for the G20 Summit, discussed the deepening cooperation in trade and investment, energy security and counter-terrorism with the “invaluable strategic partner”.

12. As per Mercer’s Survey for 2019, Mumbai among the top 20 most expensive cities in Asia for expatriates

According to Mercer's 25th Annual Cost of Living Survey, Mumbai fell 12 spots and was ranked at the 67th position out of 209 cities surveyed. Mumbai is India's most expensive city and among the top 20 costliest cities surveyed in Asia for expatriates, as residential housing prices remain among the highest in the world, a survey by global consulting leader Mercer says. Regarding Mumbai the report said, "costs of items such as eating out and utilities show a decline, however, residential housing costs remain among the most expensive in the world, contributing to its top rankings in Asia and globally".

13. India signs $250 million World Bank loan to develop Rajasthan’s Roads and Highways

The government of India, government of Rajasthan and the World Bank signed a $250 million loan agreement for the Rajasthan State Highways Development Program II project to build the state's capacity to better manage its highways and improve traffic flows on selected highways in Rajasthan. The World Bank-supported project will support the construction, upgradation, improvement, and maintenance of 766 Km of state highways and major district roads. It will also help build an online project management system and a smartphone application to handle contract management, data reporting, quality control, etc.

14. Forex reserves of India increased to a record high of $426.42 billion

India's foreign exchange reserve touched a life-time high of $426.42 billion after it surged by $4.215 billion in the week to June 21, RBI data showed. Forex reserves had scaled a record high of $426.028 billion in the week to April 13, 2018. In the previous reporting week, the reserves had declined by $1.358 billion to $422.2 billion. The rise in reserves was on account of an increase in foreign currency asset, which is a major component of the overall foreign exchange reserves. In the reporting week, foreign currency assets increased by $4.202 billion to $398.649 billion. Expressed in dollar terms, foreign currency assets include the effect of appreciation/depreciation of non-US units like the euro, pound, and yen held in the reserves.

15. Nagaland occupies the top position in the unemployment rate: NSSO Survey

The latest data on unemployment in India, which is yet to come in public domain, is the first comprehensive survey on employment conducted by a government agency after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization move in November 2016. India's unemployment rate hit a 45-year-high of 6.1 percent in 2017-18, as per the National Sample Survey Office's (NSSO's) periodic labor force survey (PLFS) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The latest data on unemployment in India, which is yet to come in public domain, is the first comprehensive survey on employment conducted by a government agency after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization move in November 2016. The unemployment rate was at its highest level since 1972-73 - a period from when the jobs data is comparable, the news agency quoted as saying.

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