12th November UPSC Current Affairs

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Cabinet approves revamped VGF scheme with an outlay of ₹8,100 crore

Why in News? The government on Wednesday approved the revamped viability gap funding (VGF) scheme envisaging a total outlay of ₹8,100 crore for encouraging investment in social as well as economic infrastructure projects. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the continuation and revamping of the scheme for financial support to public-private partnerships (PPPs) in infrastructure VGF scheme till 2024-25, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told. What is Viability Gap Funding (VGF) ? It signifies a grant, one-time or deferred, provided to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified but fall short of financial viability. The lack of financial viability usually arises from long gestation periods and the inability to increase user charges to commercial levels. The revamped VGF scheme will attract more PPP projects and facilitate private investment in the social sectors (health, education, wastewater, solid waste management, and water supply, among others). The creation of new hospitals and schools will create many opportunities to boost employment generation, according to an official release.  

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WHO not sharing enough info about coronavirus probe in China: U.S.

Why in News?
  • A senior U.S. government official complained on November 10 that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not shared enough information about its planned mission to China to investigate the animal origins of the coronavirus.
  • The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
  • It is part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Group.
  • The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency’s governing structure and principles, states its main objective as ensuring “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.
The World Health Assembly
  • The WHA, composed of representatives from all 194 member states, serves as the agency’s supreme decision-making body.
  • The WHA convenes annually and is responsible for selecting the Director-General, setting goals and priorities, and approving the WHO’s budget and activities.
  • The current Director-General is Tedros Adhanom, former Health Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, who began his five-year term on 1 July 2017.
  • In December 2019, the WHO’s China office was informed about cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in the Wuhan city of Hubei province.
  • Ever since, the WHO has worked to inform the world about the illness — called the novel coronavirus — and even earned the praise of global health experts initially for its transparent and swift approach but it failed in to act quickly.
  • It was the WHO that announced a global emergency due to the spread of the virus and later declared it a pandemic.

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Govt brings online news, streaming platforms under I&B Ministry

Why in News? The government has brought films, audio-visuals, news and current affairs content on online platforms under the domain of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.   What exactly happened ?
  • The notification, signed by President Ram Nath Kovind, said the decision has been taken in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (3) of article 77 of the Constitution.
  • The amendment in Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 and it will come into effect immediately.
  Outcomes : The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting now has the power to regulate policies related to news, audio, visual contents and films available on online platforms.

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Wholesale passenger vehicle sales up 14% in October: SIAM

Why in News?
  • The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on said wholesale passenger vehicle sales, i.e. the passenger vehicles dispatched by manufacturers to the dealers, continued its upwards trend, rising 14.19% in October due to festive demand.
Challenges to Automobile Sector
  • High Competition
  • Over the past five years, the size of pre-owned market has expanded significantly, with higher share of organised players.
  • For instance, in passenger vehicle, a significantly higher growth in pre-owned cars over the past two years is a reflection of rising consumer interest in this segment. This may impact new vehicle demand, especially in case of sharp price hikes.
Other Factors
  • Slowdown in new car sales suggests that the demand is shifting towards a pre-owned car market because of significantly lower costs of second-hand vehicles as compared to the new ones.
  • The pre-owned car market in India has been expanding considerably in the past few years and buying and selling of second-hand cars exceeded the sale of new cars in 2018- 19.
  • Further, the increased availability of automobile rentals, tech-led disruptions like shared mobility from firms such as Ola and Uber, promotes consumers to rent vehicles instead of buying them.
  • Factors like the lack of a clear migration policy towards Electric Vehicles (EV) creates confusion among buyers, deficit monsoon and liquidity crunch in the economy are also contributing towards a reduction in auto sales.

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India gifts 20 horses, 10 mine detection dogs to Bangladesh Army

Why in News?
  • India has recently gifted 20 fully trained military horses and 10 mine detection dogs to the Bangladesh Army. These were trained by the Remount and Veterinary Corps of the Indian Army.
  • India was one of the first countries to recognize Bangladesh and establish diplomatic relations immediately after its independence in December 1971.
  • Defence Cooperation: India and Bangladesh share the historical legacy of cooperation and support during the Liberation War of 1971.Various Joint exercises of Army (Exercise Sampriti) and Navy (Exercise Milan) take place between the two countries.
  • Border Management: India and Bangladesh share 4096.7 km. of border, which is the longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbours. The India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) came into force following the exchange of instruments of ratification in June 2015.
  • Cooperation over Rivers: India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers. A bilateral Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) is working since June 1972 to maintain liaison between the two countries to maximize benefits from common river systems.

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Manipur government issues orders for the protection of visiting Amur falcons

Why in News?
  • The Manipur government has stepped up vigil and launched an awareness campaign to protect Amur falcons, birds that migrate to the hilly districts of Manipur for two months.
  • The migratory birds, sighted in the hilly districts of Manipur, stay in the State till the beginning of December.
Amur falcons
  • They are the world’s longest travelling raptors start travelling with the onset of winters.
  • The raptors breed in south-eastern Siberia and northern China and migrate in millions across India and then over the Indian Ocean to southern Africa before returning to Mongolia and Siberia.
  • Their 22,000-kilometre migratory route is one of the longest amongst all avian species.
  • They get their name from the Amur River that forms the border between Russia and China.
  • Doyang Lake in Nagaland is better known as a stopover for the Amur falcons during their annual migration from their breeding grounds to warmer South Africa.
  • Thus, Nagaland is also known as the “Falcon Capital of the World,”.
  • The birds are the least concern under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, but the species is protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Convention on Migratory Species, to which India is a signatory (which means it is mandatory to protect the birds).





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