9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 18th, 2020

United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects(WESP) 2020

News:United Nations(UN) has released its World Economic Situation and Prospects(WESP) 2020.


About WESP Report,2020:

  • The report is released annually by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs(UN/DESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development(UNCTAD) and the five United Nations regional commissions.

Report on Global Economy:

  • The global economy suffered its lowest growth in a decade slipping to 2.3 per cent in 2019 due to prolonged trade disputes.
  • However,the growth could improve to 2.5 percent in 2020.But a flareup of trade tensions, financial turmoil or an escalation of geopolitical tensions could slow down the growth to 1.8% in 2020.
  • East Asia remains the world’s fastest-growing region and the largest contributor to global growth,
  • Further,a prolonged weakness in global economic activity may also cause significant setbacks for sustainable development including the goals to eradicate poverty and create decent jobs for all.
  • The report also noted that the share of the population living in extreme poverty has declined steadily and significantly over the past few decades, largely owing to successful experiences in China and India.
  • At the same time,pervasive inequalities and the deepening climate crisis are fueling growing discontent in many parts of the world.

Report on India’s Growth:

  • The report lowered its GDP growth estimate for India to 5.7% from 7.6% in the financial year 2019-20.However,the UN has projected India’s GDP growth to accelerate to 6.6 per cent in 2020-21.
  • Further,the report has also forecasted a growth rate of 6.3% for the fiscal beginning in 2021.
  • The report has also said that one in five countries will see per capita income stagnate or decline this year.But India will be among the few countries where the per capita GDP growth rate could exceed 4% level in 2020.

NIC sets up ‘Centre of Excellence in Blockchain Technology’ in Bengaluru

News:The National Informatics Centre(NIC) will set up block chain technology centre in Bengaluru.


About the Blockchain centre:

  • The Centre aims to provide BlockChain as a service to all the stakeholders who are interested in shared experiences, learning and resources.
  • It will also share its block chain-based proof of concepts with selected government entities.
  • The centre will also act to help different wings of the government understand the potential of the technology.

Additional information:

About Blockchain:

  • Blockchain is a digital, immutable, distributed ledger that chronologically records transactions in near real time.
  • In simple words,it is interlinked and continuously expanding list of records stored securely across a number of interconnected systems.

About National Informatics Centre(NIC):

  • The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is an institute set up by the Indian government in 1976 to drive its technology and e-governance initiatives in the country.
  • The institute is part of the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s Department.
  • The centre has been a premier technology advisor be it the introduction of ICT in Government, establishment of NICNET or National Knowledge Network(NKN).

About National Knowledge Network:

  • It was established in 2010.Its objective is to interconnect all institutions of higher learning and research with a high-speed data communication network to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaborative research.
  • National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, is the implementing agency.

Union Minister Calls For Preparing A Roadmap on Road Safety

News:Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways has addressed the 18th Meeting of National Road Safety Council(NRSC) and 39th Meeting of Transport Development Council (TDC) in New Delhi.


Key takeaways from the meeting:

  • The minister has emphasised upon combined efforts to curb accidents on roads.He discussed with States the steps required to save the life within the first Golden hour.
  • The minister informed that black spots are being identified and repaired at a fast pace.
  • They also discussed different road safety aspects including the MV (Amendment) Act 2019, inter-state transfer of vehicle registration, harmonisation of road tax across States, vehicle scrapping facility and implementation of vehicle tracking platform under Nirbhaya framework.

About National Road Safety Council(NRSC):

  • National Road Safety Council is an advisory body. It was established under section 215 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
  • It was set up with the objective of improving road safety aspects in road transport sector.
  • The Council is chaired by the Union Minister of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways(MORTH).

About Transport Development Council:

  • The Transport Development Council is the highest body to advise Government of India on all matters relating to roads and road transport.
  • The Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways is the Chairman of the Council.The Transport Development Council meets at least once in a year.

Additional information:

Golden Hour:It is the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.

Black spot:It is defined as a stretch not more than 500m in length where five accidents have taken place or where ten fatalities have happened in the last three years.They account for 90% of road accidents in the country.

Bangladesh:Bhashan Char Island to house 100,000 Rohingya refugees

News:The Bangladesh Government has planned to accommodate 100,000 Rohingya refugees in its Bhasan Char Island.


About Bhashan Char Island:

  • The Bhashan Char is an uninhabited island around 30 kilometre east of Hatiya island in the South East Bangladesh.
  • The Island was formed with Himalayan silt in 2006 on the mouth of river Meghna.
  • The Island falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclone.The island remains under water between June and September due to monsoon rains.
  • However,the Bangladesh government has built a three metre high embankment along its perimeter to keep out tidal surges during cyclones.

Additional information:

About Rohingya:

  • Rohingya are an ethnic group largely comprising Muslims who predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine.
  • In Myanmar, they are they are classified as resident foreigners or as associate citizens.
  • Lakhs of Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and India after facing religious and ethnical persecution in Myanmar.  This has led to a historic migration crisis and a large humanitarian crisis.

Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund

News:Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) has directed telecom service providers to put all unclaimed subscriber money in the Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund(TCEPF).


About Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF):

  • The Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund Regulations of 2007 offers a basic framework for depositing unclaimed money of consumers by service providers, maintenance of the fund and other aspects.
  • The fund also includes money on account of excess billing revealed in the audit, unclaimed money such as security deposits and plan charges of failed activations.
  • The income from this fund is utilised for programmes and activities relating to consumer education and protection.

Additional information:

About TRAI:

  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) is a statutory body set up by the Government of India under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act,1997.
  • It regulates telecom services including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services.
  • It also aims to provide a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
  • The regulator consists of a Chairperson and not more than two full-time members and not more than two part-time members.

Govt awards over Rs 2000 cr for completing Z Morh Tunnel

News:Recently,a Concession Agreement for completing the 6.5-kilometre long Z-Morh tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir was signed between NHIDCL and APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway.


About Z-Morh Tunnel:

  • Z-Morh Tunnel is a 6.5km long two-lane bi-directional road tunnel project constructed near Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The tunnel is the first step towards ensuring all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil in Ladakh region of India.
  • The tunnel gets its name from its Z formation between Sonamarg and Gagangir.
  • The tunnel is also of high strategic importance for India as it would avoid the regions of snowfall and avalanches.
  • Further,along with Zoji-la Tunnel, the Z-Morh tunnel will ensure year-long road connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil.

Additional information:

About Zoji-la Tunnel:

  • Zoji-la Tunnel is a 14.2-km long tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
  • Once Constructed,the Zojila tunnel will be the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia.
  • The project is being implemented by the ministry of road transport and highways(MoRT&H) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited(NHIDCL).

Indian Army conducts biggest airborne exercise ‘Winged Raider’

News:The Indian Army has conducted its biggest airborne exercise called the ‘Winged Raider’ comprising of more than 500 special forces troops in the North-Eastern theatre.


About Winged Raider exercise:

  • The exercise aims to demonstrate the operational preparedness of the paratroopers and air warriors to undertake airborne missions.
  • It involved a large number of the Special Forces troops and all kind of air transport platforms of the Air Force.
  • The newly inducted aerial platforms and equipment were also validated during the exercise with clockwise precision and seamless integration between the Army and the Air Force.

Significance of the exercise:

  • The exercise indicated the shift in the army’s focus towards the frontier with China.
  • In October 2019,the Indian army had also carried out Exercise ‘Him Vijay’ in Arunachal Pradesh to test its mobility, communication and coordination of such a huge body of fast-moving troops in difficult terrain.
  • The integrated battle groups(IBGs) had participated for the first time in an exercise.

Assam: NDFB(S) signs Suspension of Operations agreement with Centre

News:The National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB(S)) has signed a tripartite agreement with the central and Assam governments to suspend operations and join peace talks with the government.


About NDFB:

  • An outfit named Bodo Security Force(BdSF) was formed in 1986.In 1994,the BdSF renamed itself as the National Democratic Front of Bodoland(NDFB).
  • The outfit is an armed separatist outfit which seeks to obtain a sovereign Bodoland for the Bodo people.
  • The group has carried out several attacks in Assam targeting non-Bodo civilians as well as the security forces.
  • In 2008,NDFB was divided into two factions namely NDFB(Progressive) and NDFB (RD).In 2012 NDFB(RD) again broke away and the NDFB(S) faction was formed.
  • Currently,all these factions are in peace talks with the Union Government of India.

About Bodos:

  • Bodos are the single largest tribal community in Assam making up over 5-6% of the state’s population.They have controlled large parts of Assam in the past.
  • The Bodos have had a long history of separatist demands marked by armed struggle.They demanded for a separate state called Bodoland.
  • This demand led to the signing of Bodo Accord in 2003.The accord provides for the establishment of a Bodoland Territorial Council under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
  • The four districts in Assam namely Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang constitutes the Bodo Territorial Area District(BTAD).
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