Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Sep 03, 2020

Current Affair 1:
US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF)

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Recently, the Prime Minister of India delivered the keynote address at the 3rd Annual Leadership Summit of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).

The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) is a non-profit organization established in 2017, with the primary objective of strengthening the U.S.-India bilateral and strategic partnership. Theme for 2020: US-India Navigating New Challenges.

The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) is committed to creating the most powerful strategic partnership between the U.S. and India.

So, when you are talking about USISPF, a current affairs section will be incomplete, if it doesn’t talk about current trade of India-US. We have taken the reference of USUSPF Report:

U.S. total bilateral trade (goods and services) with India was $142.8 billion in 2018, up 13.2% from $126.2 billion level in 2017. Bilateral trade witnessed an average 7.4% annual growth rate for 2012 and 2018. U.S. exports of goods and services to India totaled $58.8 billion in 2018, registering a robust 19.1% increase from the 2017 level of $49.3 billion; total U.S. imports from India, at $84 billion, rose 9.4% from $76.8 billion in 2017.

In 2019, overall USA-India bilateral trade in goods and services reached USD 149 billion. So, India has trade surplus with US for last few years.

U.S. Exports to India

  1. India was 13th largest goods export market for U.S. exporters in 2018.
  2. The U.S. exports were $33.6 billion in 2018, up 30.7% from the 2017 level of $25.7 billion. This is the highest annual growth rate on record in U.S. exports to India for more than a decade. However, U.S. merchandize exports to India accounted for only 2% of overall U.S. global exports in 2018.
  3. The top U.S. export categories (2-digit HS) to India in 2018 were: precious metal and stone (diamonds) ($7.9 billion), mineral fuels ($6.2 billion), aerospace ($3 billion), machinery ($2.2 billion), and optical and medical instruments ($1.6 billion).

U.S. Imports from India

  1. India was the United States’ 10th largest source of goods imports in 2018.
  2. U.S. goods imports from India totaled $54.5 billion in 2019, up 12% from 2017.
  3. U.S. imports from India accounted for 2.1% of overall U.S. global imports in 2018.
  4. The top U.S. import categories from India in 2018 were: precious metal and stone (diamonds) ($11.6 billion), pharmaceuticals ($6.5 billion), machinery ($3.5 billion), mineral fuels ($3.3 billion), and vehicles ($2.9 billion).
  5. U.S. imports of services from India were $29.6 billion in 2018, 4.9% more than the 2017 level.

Current Affair 2:
Zero-budget natural farming and Thotlakonda Buddhist complex: Two important news in Andhra Pradesh

Zero-budget natural farming benefit for Paddy:

Researchers at Bengaluru-based technology-policy think-tank Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy conducted an exploratory study in Andhra Pradesh to compare ZBNF and non-ZBNF techniques in paddy, groundnut, Chilli, cotton and maize farming. The comparison was made on six parameters: Water, electricity, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, yield and net revenue.

The study — published February 2020 — was conducted in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapuramu, Prakasam, Vizianagaram and West Godavari districts during kharif season, ensuring variation in agro-climatic zones, farming techniques, production and social aspects. It found maximum benefits of ZBNF in paddy farming, with a saving of 1,400 to 3,500 cubic metres of water per acre per paddy cropping period (one acre equals 0.4 hectare).

Water consumption in paddy cultivation depended on the frequency and depth of irrigation. Paddy farms under ZBNF were irrigated with only 2.54-5.7 centimetres-deep water, while those under non-ZBNF were watered up to 12.7 cm.

The report states:

  1. ZBNF can avoid the current drawing of groundwater by 50-60 per cent, ensure adequate groundwater reserve, improve water table and reduce financial and labour stress on farmers.
  2. ZBNF farming can also solve disputes between farming communities where upstream farmers employ canal irrigation and end up guzzling more water, leaving downstream farms with insufficient volume.
  3. ZBNF does show water-saving potential and can address India’s food and security in the long run, but deep investigation is required to ascertain if it can be replicated in the various agro-climatic zones across the country.

Andhra Pradesh has played a leading role in promoting agroecological farming in the past two decades. The Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) initiative of the state is often cited as a major intervention which encouraged farmers to gradually move away from chemical-intensive farming. The Andhra Pradesh government’s unique initiative to improve farmers’ livelihood through zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) can be seen as the right solution to fight climate change.

Thotlakonda Buddhist complex


The relocation of executive capital to Visakhapatnam as part of its agenda to create three capitals can be seen as a serious threat to the steel city’s heritage sites.

The Thotlakonda Buddhist complex, spread over nearly 48 hectares on a hill overlooking the Bay of Bengal, some 15 km from Visakhapatnam, is believed to have flourished between the second century BCE and the second century CE.

Thotlakonda emerged alongside the other Buddhist complexes, such as Bavikonda and Pavurallakonda. The Buddhist relics fell within the influence of the ancient region of Kalinga, which played a pivotal role in disseminating Buddhism within India and also to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asian regions.

The word Thotlakonda in Telugu is derived from the rock-cut water cisterns found in the local bedrock. Since the discovery of the site in 1976, it has been declared a protected monument by the state government. Notable excavations at the site include a maha stupa, a stone pillared congregation hall, three circular prayer halls, 10 viharas, a kitchen complex, and a refectory. Silver Roman coins and other evidence of international commerce have also been found at the site.


Current Affair 3:
Dead’ coral reefs as important as ‘live’ ones, shows new study

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According to a recent study by researchers from University of Queensland (UQ), Australia, more life can be supported by dead coral remains than live corals. Dead’ coral reefs supported ‘cryptic’ animals, hidden sea creatures, including fishes, snails, tiny crabs and worms who hide under this rubble to save themselves from predation.

Important findings:

  1. The researchers designed three-dimensional-printed coral stacks called RUbble Biodiversity Samplers (RUBS) to survey cryptic organisms. The 3D-printed coral mimicked surrounding reef rubble and invited unwitting reef organisms to be monitored. By sampling the RUBS’ structures over time, the team were able to identify changes in the cryptic population.
  2. The researchers found the missing link in the coral reef food webs. This data fills important knowledge gaps, such as how small cryptic animals support coral reefs from the bottom of the food chain, all the way up to bigger predators.
  3. This also helped to know the importance of dead coral reef rubble to the ocean ecosystem.

Recent threats to corals in news:

Three mass bleaching events in 1998, 2010 and 2016 impacted five major coral reef regions in Andaman, Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Kutch, all under the Indian Ocean itself. Similarly, a recent oil spill in Mauritius that leaked more than 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil can be responsible for the devastation of coral reefs around the island as well.

This technology by UQ researchers, thus, provides a new opportunity for reef management, particularly for reef education and awareness.

Current Affair 4:
Hurricane Nana (For map purpose)

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Atlantic Hurricane Nana has made a landfall on the coast of Belize. The country Belize is located on the northeast coast of Central America. Few days back, Hurricane Laura made landfall in southwestern Louisiana (South Central United States).

Let’s see the map of Central America also:


Current Affair 5:
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)

Just have a brief idea about MEIS

MEIS was introduced in the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) for the period 2015-2020. The MEIS was launched as an incentive scheme for the export of goods. The rewards are given by way of duty credit scrips to exporters. The MEIS is notified by the DGFT (Directorate General of Foreign Trade) and implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. 

Under the FTP 2015-20, MEIS intends to incentivize exports of goods manufactured in India or produced in India. The incentives are for goods widely exported from India, industries producing or manufacturing such goods with a view to making Indian exports competitive. The MEIS covers goods notified for the purpose of the scheme.

MEIS replaced the following five other similar incentive schemes present in the earlier Foreign Trade Policy 2009-14:

MEIS replaced the various export incentive schemes which gave different types of duty credit scrips namely, Focus Market Scheme (FMS), Focus Product Scheme (FPS), Vishesh Krishi Gramin Udyog Yojana (VKGUY), Market Linked Focus Product Scheme (MLFPS) and Agri Infrastructure incentive scheme. All duty credit scrips issued under the earlier incentive schemes were transferred to the MEIS.

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