Current Affairs for today- 21st October 2019

October 21 2019

GS Paper II

SAARC varsity move upsets academics


An advertisement seeking applications for the post of President of the South Asian University, the flagship educational centre of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) has caused disquiet among the university’s academics.

What’s in the news?

The academia is agitated that only the Indian nationals are invited for application to the post of President. But, 38th Standing Committee of SAARC suggests that it limits the process of selection.

About SAARC?

What: The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka.

When: 8 December 1985.

Composition: SAARC comprises of eight Member States: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The Secretariat of the Association was set up in Kathmandu on 17 January 1987.


Decisions at all levels are to be taken on the basis of unanimity; and bilateral and contentious issues are excluded from the deliberations of the Association.

Meetings of heads of state are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries, twice annually. Headquarters are in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Areas of co-operation:

  1. Health, population, and child welfare;
  2. Environment and meteorology;
  3. Rural development (including the SAARC Youth Volunteers Program);
  4. Tourism; transport;
  5. Energy, transport, science and technology;
  6. Communications;
  7. Women in development Social Affairs
  8. Prevention of drug trafficking and drug abuse.
  9. Human Resource Development and Tourism
  10. Natural Disasters and Biotechnology
  11. Economic, Trade and Finance

Objectives of SAARC:

  1. To promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals with the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potentials;
  2. To promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia;
  3. To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems;
  4. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields;
  5. To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries; to strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interests, and
  6. To cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.

The six apex bodies of SAARC:

1. SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI)

2. SAARCLAW (South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation In Law),

3. South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA)

4. South Asia Foundation (SAF)

5. South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC)

6. Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL)

Achievements of SAARC:

  • SAFTA: The monumental achievement of SAARC has been in the economic domain in terms of devising the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). It was signed in 2004 and was implemented in 2006.
  • SAPTA: The Agreement on SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) was signed in 1993 and four rounds of trade negotiations have been concluded.
  • FTA: With the objective of moving towards a South Asian Economic Union (SAEU), the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) was signed during the Twelfth Summit in Islamabad in January 2004.
  • The Association has carried out Regional Studies on trade, manufactures and services, environment and poverty alleviation, SAFTA and Customs matters.
  • SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS): SATIS is following the GATS-plus ‘positive list’ approach for trade in services liberalization.

South Asian University (SAU) is an international university established by the eight-member nations of the SAARC.  SAU started its operations from the academic year 2010 and it now offers a broad range of post-graduate and doctoral programmes in various disciplines that include Economics, Computer Science, Biotechnology, Mathematics, Sociology, International Relations and Law.

The University is currently functioning from Akbar Bhawan Campus in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi before it eventually moves into its 100-acre campus in Maidan Garhi, South Delhi where construction is underway.

The SAARC Standing Committee comprises of the Foreign Secretaries of the SAARC Member States.  Its roles are:

  1. Overall monitoring and coordination of programme of cooperation under a different area
  2. Approval of projects and programmes, including modalities of their financing
  3. Determination of inter-sectoral priorities
  4. Mobilisation of regional and external resources
  5. Identification of new areas of cooperation based on appropriate studies.

GS Paper III

Govt. should reverse cuts on corporate taxes


Abhijit Banerjee comments on the lacunae of the Indian economic policy saying that the tax exemptions must be reversed to get more money in the hands of the poor who really spend it.

What India is going through?

  1. A lot of stress on the social fabric due to the economic decline.
  2. According to the numbers provided by the NSSO, the country is having an economic slump worse than the 2008 financial crisis and that the growth has stopped since 2014-15.
  3. The MSP provided unnaturally showered a spillover effect on the labour demand.
  4. Since the local governing bodies, village panchayats delay in the proposal of projects, there is a gap in the approval-implementation step that is gaping into the already present job crisis.
  5. Though the government ruled tax cut, the big companies are reluctant to steadily increase their spending as they do not see the need to invest in the current cycle of economics.
  6. Failure of the government schemes of MGNREGA, NYAY, Jan Dhan Yojana, etc. that is not specifically tending to fill the accounts of all the beneficiaries.

What must India do? – Way forward

  1. Better policies to leverage the agricultural sector to cope with the distress caused due to foreign market intrusion in the domestic field.
  2. Retract the rate reduction on indirect taxes, like the GST.
  3. To ensure the middle classes also pay the taxes to get good services, which in all makeup for most of the GDP.
  4. To consider rolling back of the corporate tax exemptions to utilize in the expansion of the scheme of PM-KISAN and MGNREGA to put more money in the poor hands.
  5. If the hour of the need is to focus on the basic income, then we must take out many subsidies, like power subsidies, NREGA, etc. to hoard more money for redistribution.
  6. To ensure the microfinance systems are realizing the goal of the SHGs.
  7. To device or do right, the erred policies the government has created on land, labour, credit and all forms of market to ensure the well-deserved poor are in the virtuous loop of credit.
  8. The government must look into the export sector to prevent the Chinese market overhauling the domestic trade and look for how India could be the next destination for the international companies to invest to cue at the common capacity building ecosystem, electronics, technology and energy.

GS Paper II

Rohingya agree to move to Bay of Bengal Island


Thousands of Rohingya living in the Bangladesh refugee camps have agreed to move to an island in Bay of Bengal, despite waves of fear of flooding is in the air.


Since late August 2017, more than 671,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s (Burma) Rakhine State to escape the military’s large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing. The atrocities committed by Burmese security forces, including mass killings, sexual violence, and widespread arson, amount to crimes against humanity. Military and civilian officials have repeatedly denied that security forces committed abuses during the operations, a story that contradicts the claims supported by extensive evidence and witness accounts.

What’s the crisis?

They have faced decades of discrimination and repression under successive Burmese governments. Being denied the right to citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law, they are one of the largest stateless populations in the world. Rohingya Muslims are the last percentage of Muslims in Myanmar who are treated as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in the eyes of the Buddhist nation. Restrictions on movement and lack of access to basic health care have led to dire humanitarian conditions for those displaced by earlier waves of violence in 2012 and 2016.

At least 288 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine state after August 2017, according to analysis of satellite imagery by Human Rights Watch.

What’s in the news?

Dhaka wanted to long relocate the 1,00,000 refugees off the overcrowded border camps to the muddy silt islet, Bhashan Char. Aka Thengar Char, and Char Piya, is an island in Hatiya Upazila, Bangladesh. It is located in the Bay of Bengal, 37 miles from the coast. The island was formed with Himalayan silt in 2006.

Source: Google image search

Around 6000-7000 refugees are ready to shift as there is an inadequate housing and food crisis in the camp at Leda. However, the island has recently emerged from the sea, around two decades ago to risk the refugees throng on the desolate cyclone-flood- thunderstorm prone island.

GS Paper II, Paper III

3 PoK terror camps destroyed says Army Chief

What’s in the news?

Army Chief confirms unprovoked ceasefire violations along the LoC and that the Indian side had taken immediate retaliatory action against four terror launch pads that tried to infiltrate Pakistan army and terrorists into the Indian border of Tangdhar and Keran sectors (Kupwara district). There had been a series of infiltration attempts from Gurez, Tangdhar, Uri and Macchil areas of south Pir Panjal.

Recently in October, there was another violation in Baramulla district of Uri sector.

Source: Google image search

GS Paper II

Ayushman Bharat


It’s a flagship scheme of Government of India launched as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This initiative has been designed on the lines as to meet SDG and its underlining commitment, which is “leave no one behind”.

The approach is to shift from the sectoral and segmented line of health service to a comprehensive need-based health care/ service delivery. It’s breakthrough interventions are to holistically address health (covering prevention, promotion and ambulatory care), at primary, secondary and tertiary level.

Two inter-related components:

  1. Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs)
  2. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

1. Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs)

In February 2018, the Government of India announced the creation of 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) by transforming existing Sub Centres and Primary Health Centres to deliver Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) bringing healthcare closer covering maternal and child health services, non-communicable diseases, including free essential drugs and diagnostic services.


  • To deliver an expanded range of services to address the primary health care needs of an entire society, expanding access, universality and equity close to the community.
  • Empowering and engaging individuals and communities to choose healthy behaviors and make changes that reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and morbidities.

2. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

PM-JAY aims at providing health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to over 10.74 crores poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries). There is no cap on the family size under the scheme. This scheme was earlier known as National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) before it was rechristened to PM-JAY. This scheme was launched on 23rd September 2018 by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in Ranchi, Jharkhand.


  • PM-JAY has been rolled out for the bottom 40% of the poor and vulnerable population.
  • The households included are based on the deprivation and occupational criteria of Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011) for rural and urban areas respectively.
  • The scheme subsumed then existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), launched in 2008 hence covering families that were in RSBY but were not present in the SECC 2011 database.
  • PM-JAY is completely funded by the Government, and the cost of implementation is shared between Central and State Governments.
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About the Author

Manasa Sastry

Masters degree holder in Forensic Science. Currently, a UPSC Aspirant helping fellow learners to sort their daily current affairs preparation. Loves to learn and help others. Music, dance and art are just a few of my many hobbies.

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