Current Affairs May 20, 2019

In this post, GKToday presents Current Affairs of May 20, 2019 in Short Notes form for preparation of IBPS, Banking, CLAT, SSC, Railway, UPSC, IAS/PCS, UPPSC, BPSC, MPPSC, RPSC, TNPSC, MPSC, KPSC and all other competitive examinations of India.

1. India has found problems with the current method under which the OECD index –Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) - ranks countries based on their services trade policies. As per study commissioned by Indian Ministry of Commerce, the outcomes of index are biased and counter-intuitive. For example, the index seems to show the Indian services sector as one of the most restrictive, particularly in policy areas like foreign entry. This seems surprising as since 1991, the one area that has seen maximum liberalization in India is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The initial work suggests that there are both theoretical and practical inconsistencies in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) methodology. Additionally, the data seems to have been generated by rather arbitrary procedures and reflects a developed country bias. In order to rectify this, the Indian team of econometricians designed a new way of measuring restrictiveness in the services trade that would be more robust and would not have a bias either for developed or developing countries.

2. After 29 glorious years of service from 1990 to 2019, the Indian Coast Guard ship (ICGS) Vigraha has recently decommissioned at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh on May 16. During the 29 years of service, the ship has participated in major coast guard operations involving search and rescue, anti-poaching, pollution response, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, repatriation and joint exercises among others. ICGS Vigraha was the 7th Vikram-class offshore patrol vessel built by the Mazagaon Dock Limited, Mumbai and it was commissioned on April 12, 1990.

3. The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is observed across the globe every year on May 17 to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. The 2019 theme is ‘Bridging the standardization gap’. The day also marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention (ITC) and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

4. A comprehensive survey on plastic pollution has been conducted by marine scientists on the Australian external territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Around 600 people live in these remote places, which are sometimes described as "Australia's last unspoilt paradise". The scientists found an estimated 414 million pieces of plastic including nearly one million shoes and 370,000 toothbrushes on the beaches of remote Islands in the Indian Ocean. The survey published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’ estimated that the beaches on the islands are littered with 238 tonnes of plastic. They believe their overall finding is conservative, as they weren't able to access some beaches known to be hotspots of pollution. Researchers said, the scale of the problem means cleaning up our oceans is currently not possible, and cleaning beaches, once they are polluted with plastic, is time consuming, costly, and needs to be regularly repeated as thousands of new pieces of plastic wash up each day. The only viable solution is to reduce plastic production and consumption while improving waste management to stop this material entering our oceans in the first place.

5. With sales estimated at Rs. 168.25 crore, London-based sculptor Anish Kapoor has topped the first edition of the Hurun India Art List. He is followed by artists Akbar Padamsee and Krishen Khanna, whose works were sold for Rs 45.84 crore and Rs 9.48 crore respectively. The Hurun Research Institute has ranked the top 50 Indian artists alive based on the sales of their works at public auction from April 2018 to March 2019. The report is based on data from top auction-houses and agencies in the industry. Hurun Report India in association with ArtPrice.com has recently unveiled the first edition of its India Art List, in which 24% of artists listed were women. Mr. Kapoor is known for using granite, marble, limestone and plaster to make geometric structures. He is the only artist to own the exclusive right to use the ‘blackest black’ pigment in the world developed by Vantablack.

6. Kadavoor Sivadasan (87), the veteran Congress leader and former Kerala Minister, has passed away in Thiruvananthapuram on May 17, 2019. An active trade union leader, Sivadasan had served as secretary of Kerala Provisional United Trade Union Congress in 1977 and participated in the International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva representing the Central government in 1985. Mr. Sivadasan, a five-time MLA, had served as a Minister in the United Democratic Front governments headed by the late K. Karunakaran and A. K. Antony and had held Power, Health and Forest portfolios. He represented the Kollam and Kundra segments in the Assembly.

7. The book titled "Coming Round the Mountain", will be released officially by India's beloved children's author Ruskin Bond on his 85th birthday on 19th May 2019 at Cambridge bookstores in Mussourie. The book is the third installment of Bond's award-winning memoir series for children that includes "Looking for the Rainbow" and "Till the Clouds Roll By". In "Looking for the Rainbow", Bond described the two years he had spent with his father when he was just nine years old, and in "Till the Clouds Roll By" he talked about the sudden change in his circumstances, the efforts he had to make to adjust to a new and very different life with his mother and stepfather. Now, the third part of the series will deal with Bond's story as a boy of 13 during the crucial year of India's partition.

8. Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor has been felicitated by Council of European Chambers of Commerce (CEUCC) in India and an European Union delegation as part of the 'Europe Day' celebrations in Mumbai on May 17. He has been felicitated for his decade-long support to promoting the cause of children's rights and his collaboration with the EU and Plan India in their girls' rights endeavours. The event also highlighted how Europe has always been a favourite shooting destination for Indian filmmakers for many decades. The Europe Day is celebrated every year on May 9 to mark the formation of the European Union (EU).

9. Dr. Pramod Kumar Mishra, Odisha-born IAS officer and Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India, has been conferred with the prestigious United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction for the year 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. He received the 2019 Sasakawa award in recognition of his long-term dedication to improve the resilience of communities most exposed to disasters and his personal commitment to social inclusion as a critical principle to reduce inequality and poverty, enhancing the safety net of the socially and economically marginalized. The UN Sasakawa Award is the most prestigious international award in the area of Disaster Risk Management. It was instituted more than 30 years ago and is jointly organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the Nippon Foundation. A total grant of USD 50,000 is distributed among the winners which can be either organizations or individuals. The theme of the 2019 Sasakawa award was “Building Inclusive and Resilient Societies”.

10. As an initiative towards a greener ecosystem in Ganga Basin, the tripartite MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed between National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), HCL Foundation and INTACH for taking up a project of 'Plantation of Rudraksh Trees in Uttarakhand' under the 'Namami Gange' Programme. The aim of the project is to plant 10 thousand Rudraksh trees in the catchment area of river Ganga in Uttarakhand in association with local community and other stakeholders. It will also help in generating income for people residing in those areas. The aim of the Namami Gange Mission is to provide comprehensive and sustainable solutions for a cleaner ecosystem along the stretch of 97 towns and over 4 thousand 4 hundred villages on the Ganga stem and a public-private partnership will provide the initiative a much-needed impetus

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