National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 19th October 2018

 LPG set to make Kerala the first smoke-free State


Topic: Government Policies

In news: Kerala is now set to become the first smoke-free State in the country with public sector oil companies eyeing 100% LPG penetration. The target has almost been achieved in most villages, mofussil towns and cities in the State.

Significance of being Smoke free:

  • It is estimated that one crore tonnes of emissions, from poisonous gases like firewood cooking, have been contained and 25 lakh trees have been saved with the introduction of LPG in villages.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

  • Under the scheme, five crore LPG connections are to be provided to BPL households. The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.
  • Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country. This measure will empower women and protect their health. It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.
  • While the selection of beneficiaries would be from the BPL families only, preference would be given to SC/ST and weaker sections of society. While providing the new connections to BPL households, priority would be given to the States which have lower LPG coverage (compared to the national average) as on 1st Jan, 2016.
  • The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas.
  • Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.


Global Competitiveness Index 2018


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 In news: The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released the Global Competitiveness Report 2018.

  • India has been ranked as the 58th most competitive economy on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index for 2018, which was topped by the US. India’s rank rose by five places from 2017, the largest gain among G20 economies.
  • On the list of 140 economies, the US is followed by Singapore and Germany at the second and the third positions respectively. India was ranked 58th with a score of 62.0 in the latest Global Competitiveness Report.
  • Neighbouring China was ranked at the 28th position in the overall list.
  • Among the BRICS economies, China topped the list at 28th place with a score of 72.6, ahead of the Russian Federation (65.6, 43rd), India (62.0, 58th), South Africa (60.8, 67th), and Brazil (59.5, 72nd). India, however, remained the “South Asia’s main driving force.
  • As per the report, India’s greatest competitive advantages include its market size, innovation (in particular the quality of its research establishments and business dynamism (including the number of disruptive businesses). While the areas that the country needs to improve include, labour market (in particular workers rights), product market (in particular trade tariffs) and skills (in particular pupil-teacher ratio).

Global Competitive Index:

  • The Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) is a yearly report published by the World Economic Forum.
  • The report “assesses the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens. This in turn depends on how productively a country uses available resources. Therefore, the Global Competitiveness Index measures the set of institutions, policies, and factors that set the sustainable current and medium-term levels of economic prosperity.

Source:The Hindu

 H1B visa issue:


Topic: International Relations

 In news: External affairs ministry is engaging with trump administration to resolve issues related to H1B Visa.

More on the Topic:

  • The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.
  • It will “propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation” to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme. It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” U.S.
  • This move is likely to have an adverse impact on the functioning of Indian IT companies in the U.S. and also small and medium-sized contractual companies in the IT sector, which are mostly owned by Indian-Americans.

Source:The Hindu



Topic:Science and Technology

IN NEWS: CSIR has developed an affordable Water Disinfection System “OneerTM”. The device will go a long way in meeting the requirements of potable water in rural and urban areas.

 More on the Topic:

  • It is useful for continuous treatment of water and eliminates all disease causing pathogens such as virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and cyst to provide safe drinking water to domestic and communities settings as per National and International standards prescribed for potable water (BIS, WHO etc.).
  • Oneer developed by CSIR-IITR, will provide access to safe and clean drinking water at a cost of just 2 Paise / Ltr. The Community level model is of 450 LPH capacity which can be scaled up to 5000 to 1 lakh L/day; and is also maintenance and membrane free. The technology will be helpful especially for rural people since it can be solar powered.


Galaxy proto-supercluster — Hyperion


Topic: Science and Technology

In news: A team of scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have cited the most massive structure in the early universe known to date. The galaxy proto-supercluster found has been named Hyperion.

 More on the topic:

  • Hyperion has a mass 1 million billion times greater than the sun and is so distant that it is viewed from earth as it looked billions of years ago.
  • Its distance from earth means astronomers are viewing it as it was created just over 2 billion years after the Big Bang, which gave rise to the universe about 13.8 billion years ago.
  • Hyperion was detected using the Visible Multi-Object Spectrograph, which according to its handlers acts as a “time machine in the middle of desert, showing us how the universe looked when it was just a third of its current age.”
  • Significance: These are galaxies very far from us, almost at the beginning of the universe, and allow us to understand better how the universe evolved from the Big Bang until the present day.

Source:The Hindu

Rwanda names 50 percent female Cabinet

Topic: International affairs

In news: Two days after Ethiopia announced one of the world’s few “gender-balanced” Cabinets with 50 % women, Rwanda has done the same.

 More on the Topic:

  • The country has received international recognition for female representation in government, with women making up 61 % of parliament members.

Source:The Hindu

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