Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 23 FEBRUARY 2020
Government moots public-private fund for R&D sector
- In an effort to stimulate investment in research and development (R&D),
the Department of Science and Technology is mooting a fund that will match
the contributions made by private companies in R&D.
- A major beneficiary of such private sector funds, Mr. Sharma noted,
could be the Indian Institutes of Technology.
- The scheme will be coordinated through the department’s Science and
Engineering Research Board, which funds a variety of basic science projects
in several universities.
- Though India is among the top five countries in terms of its output of
scientific publications, it doesn’t match up in investments.
- Public sector institutions form the lion’s share of India’s investment
in R&D. In 2004-2005, private sector accounted for 28% of India’s research
spend and in 2016-17 this increased to 40%. In most advanced economies,
private R&D accounts for the bulk of investment in R&D.
- Moreover, while the government is the major source of funds for R&D,
it’s also the major user — in terms of money consumed by public sector
enterprises or Central institutions.
Serious flaws detected in payment of maternity benefit scheme
- One in three Aadhaar-based payments for the Centre’s maternity benefit
scheme, or PradhanMantriMatruVandanaYojana (PMMVY), was credited to a wrong
bank account, according to a progress report on PoshanAbhiyaan (Nutrition
Mission) released by the NITI Aayog on Saturday.
- The report says a telephone survey of 5,525 beneficiaries, conducted by
the Ministry of Women and Child Development, revealed that only 60% were
aware of the receipt of the benefits and the bank accounts to which the
money was transferred.
- Under the PMMVY, pregnant women and lactating mothers receive ₹5,000 for
their first child in three instalments. Each tranche is released upon the
beneficiaries meeting some conditions. The money is meant to compensate
women for loss of wages, and is aimed at ensuring a healthy nutritional
development of the newborn.
- The NITI Aayog has called for “simplification in documentation and
operational rules” to avoid delays. It has proposed to “rationalise” the
mandatory waiting period of 180 days before the second instalment is
released as well as the compulsory birth certificate for the release of the
- This is the second report released by the government on the
implementation of Poshan Abhiyaan. It scores the States and Union
Territories to measure their readiness to execute the programme across four
themes: governance and institutional mechanism; strategy and planning;
service delivery and capacities; and programme activities and intervention
coverage. The States were divided into large and small categories for a
Finance ministry suggest need to enhance global risk monitoring
- Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman on Saturday emphasised on the need to
enhance global risk monitoring and explore the scope for policy
co-ordination to deal with such risks.
- Speaking at the G-20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors
meeting in Riyadh, she called upon all member countries to enhance their
efforts aimed at empowering women, youth and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
- A tweet by the Finance Ministry said that the Finance Minister had
called upon the G20 to enhance global risk monitoring and explore the scope
for policy co-ordination to deal with such global risks.
- It added that she had also emphasised that growing inequality had slowed
down the pace of inter-generational mobility globally. She pointed out that
identifying the causes and developing solutions require coordinated policy
solutions, the tweet said.
U.S surpasses China to become top business partner
- The United States has surpassed China to become India's top trading
partner. According to the Commerce Ministry data, the bilateral trade
between the US and India stood at nearly 88 billion dollars in 2018-19
fiscal. During the period, India's trade with China was at 87.1 billion
- Similarly, during April-December 2019-20, the bilateral trade between
the US and India stood at 68 billion dollars against a nearly 65 billion
dollars trade with China in the same period.
- America is one of the few countries with which India has a trade
surplus. On the other hand, India has a huge trade deficit with China. In
2018-19, India has a trade surplus of 16.9 billion dollars with America,
while it has a deficit of 53.6 billion dollars with the neighbouring
country. The data showed that China was India's top trading partner since
2013-14 till 2017-18.
Conservatives claim victory in Iran general elections
- In Iran, conservatives have claimed victory in a general election marked
by the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
- Interior Ministry announced results of 95 per cent of the 208
constituencies in Friday's election. It declared the names of the winning
candidates but without specifying their political affiliation.
- Conservative candidates have secured at least 219 seats in the
290-strong parliament, also known as the Majlis. 17 women were elected, the
same number as in the outgoing 290-seat parliament.
- Interior Minister AbdolrezaRahmaniFazli announced that 42.6 per cent
voters took part in the polling which is the lowest in four decades.
- A low participation had been widely forecast, as a
conservative-dominated electoral watchdog disqualified about half of the
16,000-odd candidates, mostly moderates and reformists.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Climate experts claim longer monsoons in Sunderbans
- The monsoon in Sunderbans is likely to last longer and get more intense,
according to a fact sheet titled The Sunderbans and Climate Change, which
was made public during the ongoing Convention on the Conservation of
Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
- Conversely, drought conditions will also become more pronounced,
presenting further challenges for agricultural producers in particular and
ecosystems in general, said the document released during the Conference of
Parties being held at Gujarat.
- The document highlights the need for "long term coastal planning to
ensure that these critically important intertidal habitats with their unique
flora and fauna and local inhabitants have a space to retreat inland". The
paper also points out that the habitat of the Bengal tiger (Pantheratigristigris)
in the Sunderbans is also affected by the storm due to a decline in the
availability of prey.
- While the fact sheet puts the rise in the sea level at 3.2 mm per year
currently, it states that an estimated rise of 28 cm above the sea levels
registered in the year 2000 would result in a 96 % decline of the habitat of
the Bengal tiger in Bangladesh.
- The fact sheet points out that large parts of Sunderbans, which are
designated as ‘Ramsar Sites’, are highly susceptible to flooding.
- “Due to this, any swelling of ocean water is going to dramatically
affect the area. Although mangroves are somewhat resistant to submersion in
water, they can die when tidal inundation occurs too frequently or lasts too
long,” the document stated.
Indian grandmaster D Gukesh wins Cannes open
- In Chess, India's 13-year old Grandmaster D Gukesh emerged champion in
the 34th Cannes Open in France. Gukesh defeated HarutyunBargseghyan of the
host nation in the final round to end with 7.5 points.
- Gukesh, who last year became the world's second youngest Grandmaster
ever, beat the Frenchman in 50 moves to emerge clear winner on Saturday.
- The Tamil Nadu player had last week won his first open tournament,
bagging top honors in the Hillerod 110th Anniversary Open event in
Denmark.He remained unbeaten in the tournament and posted wins over
top-seeded ChongshengZeng of China and Bargseghyan among others.