January 2020

Daily Current Affairs (08-01-20)



Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Economy [Paper-II]: Foreign investment and competition policy


Across the world, the rise of automation has raised concerns over its impact on employment, especially in poor countries.

World Bank Study

  • In a World Bank study, Mary Hallward-Driemeier and Gaurav Nayyar used data sets on greenfield foreign direct investments (FDI) and industrial robot usage between 2004 and 2015 to investigate the relationship between automation and FDI flows.
  • The study measured automation in terms of the intensity of robot use (robots per 1,000 employees).

Key Findings

  • During the period (2004-2015), because of outsourcing, high-income countries (HICs) such as the European nations and the US, witnessed the largest FDI outflows, measured in terms of project announcements, into low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
  • Leading sectors in HICs witnessed a huge rise in automation.
  • Electronic and automobile sectors were the most automated while Textiles was the least automated.
  • The study finds that as automation increases, FDI flows from HICs to LMICs fall.
  • However, this relationship is non-linear. A 10% increase in the intensity of robots in HICs is associated with a 5.5% increase in the growth rate of FDI flows to LMICs.
  • But above a certain threshold of automation in HICs, FDI inflows into LMICs grow at a diminishing rate and lead to reshoring with HICs investing in their own countries.
  • For the poorest countries, automation actually leads to greater FDI inflows, but from a smaller pool of countries.
  • Because of this, the researchers argue that fears of technological advancement displacing labour may be overstated.


  • The World Bank study concluded that automation will certainly disrupt the flow of capital from high-income countries (HICs) to into low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
  • It also suggests that poor countries can gain from automation if adopted at the right time.
[Source: Livemint]




Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Science and Technology [Paper-II]: Energy Policy of India – Govt.Policies and Programmes


  • Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) and LED Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) marked its fifth anniversary on January 25, 2020.
  • SLNP is the world’s largest streetlight replacement programme and UJALA is the world’s largest domestic lighting project.
  • Both have been spearheaded and implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power, Government of India.

SLNP Programme

  • Under the SLNP programme, over 1.03 crore smart LED streetlights have been installed till date, enabling an estimated energy savings of 6.97 billion kWh per year with an avoided peak demand of 1,161 MW and an estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction of 4.80 million tCO2 annually.
  • By March 2020, SLNP aims to replace 1.34 crore conventional streetlights in India with smart LEDs.
  • This ambitious goal will make a tremendous difference, enabling peak demand reduction of about 1500 MW, annual energy savings of 9 billion kWh, and reduction in 6.2 Million tons of CO2 per year.

UJALA Initiative

  • Through the UJALA initiative, over 36.13 crore LED bulbs have been distributed across India.
  • This has resulted in estimated energy savings of 46.92 billion kWh per year, avoided peak demand of 9,394 MW, and an estimated GHG emission reduction of 38 million t CO2 annually.
  • The reduced electricity bills add to a household’s disposable income and lifetime savings, thus improving the quality of life, generating prosperity in local communities and in expanding energy access to all.


  • With the concerted efforts towards building a robust ecosystem for LED in India, these programmes have bagged global awards like the prestigious South Asia Procurement Innovation Award (SAPIA) 2017.
  • For the innovative use of IT and the business results achieved in Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), it won 2019 CIO 100 award.
  • The highly successful UJALA and SLNP have also bagged the Global Solid State Lighting (SSL) award of excellence for the transformational contribution to the LED sector.

[Source: PIB]




Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Geography [Paper-I]: Physical, Social, Economic Geography of World, India and Kerala


India Meteorological Department (IMD) has recently released ‘Statement on Climate of India during 2019’.

Key Highlights


  • India’s annual mean surface air temperature was +0.36°C above the 1981-2010 period average during all the four seasons in 2019, with the monsoon (June-September) being the warmest since 1901.
  • The temperature was substantially lower than the surface air temperature in 2016, but scientists warned that the threat of climate change, if not dealt with, could lead to many more extreme weather events.
  • The year 2016 remains the warmest year on record for India so far, followed by 2009, 2017, 2010, and 2015.


  • The annual rainfall over the country was 109 % of long period average (LPA).
  • Rainfall over the country as a whole during the SW monsoon season (June-September), which is the principal rainy season of the country, was normal (110 % of LPA).
  • During this season, among the four large geographical regions of the country, Central India and South Peninsular India received 129% and 116% of its LPA rainfall respectively, while Northwest India received 98% and East & Northeast India received 88% of its LPA rainfall.
  • The 2019 northeast monsoon season (October-December) rainfall over the country as a whole was above normal (129% of LPA).

High Impact Weather Events

  • Extreme weather events driven by climate change claimed as many as 1,659 lives across India in 2019, which ended as the seventh warmest year on record.
  • The most evident impact was seen on the oceans, with one of the most intense cyclone seasons ever.
  • As many as eight cyclonic storms formed over the Indian seas, including five in the Arabian Sea, compared to the usual one per year.
  • However, the cyclone activity over the Bay of Bengal during 2019 has been subdued as only 3 cyclones formed against the normal of 4 per year.
  • The country also experienced other high impact weather events like, extremely heavy rainfall, heat and cold waves, snow fall, thunderstorm, dust storm, lightning, floods etc.
  • Heavy rain– and flood-related incidents took the maximum toll, claiming more than 850 lives across states.
  • Heavy showers also claimed several lives in Maharashtra (136), Uttar Pradesh (107), Kerala (88), Rajasthan (80), and Karnataka (43).
  • Heatwave conditions which prevailed over the northeastern & central parts of the country during the period of March to June, 2019 claimed 350 lives.
  • Lightning and thunderstorm in these states led to the death of 380 people.
  • Snowfall and avalanche-related incidents killed 33 people in Jammu and Kashmir and 18 in Leh.
  • Bihar was the most adversely affected state during the year which reported about 650 lives due to Heavy rain & floods, heat wave, lightning, thunderstorm and hailstorm.

[Source: Livemint, mausam.imd.gov.in]



  • A two-day odonate survey, organised by the Social Forestry division of the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department, in association with Tropical Institute of Ecological Sciences, has spotted 33 species of dragonflies and damselflies in the Vembanad kole wetland.
  • The survey showed considerable change in the diversity of dragonflies and damselfies in tune with the ecological changes in the vicinity of the vembanad wetlands.
  • Of the 33 species spotted, the Brown Dartlets (Kariyila-thumbi) and Coastal Gliders (Pozhi-thumbi) found in Vaikom were rare species.
  • The Ditch Jewel (Changathi-thumbi) was a common species spotted at all 14 places.
  • Odonates are indicators of fresh or polluted waters. Water contamination can easily be understood from the presence or absence of some odonate species.
  • Considering the importance of biological indicators and increased discussions in the field of wetland conservation, the odonate fauna needs to be protected in wetland conservation efforts.
  • The spotting of Ditch Jewel in almost all places was an indication of the alarming degradation of the wetland system.
  • The Blue Grass Dart (Naattu-poothali), Common Picture Wing (Salabha-thumbi), Pied Paddy Skimmer (Swami-thumbi), and Ruddy Marsh (Valayal-thumbi), that usually keep marshy land its main habitat too were spotted in large numbers during the survey.
  • The survey indicates that dragonflies and damselfies of Vembanad region need to be observed in a new perspective, especially against the backdrop of the post-flood scenario.
  • Mizoram government will be organising Zo Kutpui festival in at least 10 states across India and countries such as US, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  • The first edition of the festival will start on January 9, 2020 in Vanghmun in Tripura and will be held over three days.
  • The festival will then move to other states which have significant Mizo population.
  • The move is an attempt to unify and strengthen the brotherhood among various Mizo tribes living in different parts of the world.
  • The event will witness various cultural programmes by different Mizo tribes, besides performance by various artistes belonging to Zo ethnic tribes of Mizoram and the Northeast.
  • Leading stock exchange NSE launched Knowledge Hub; an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered learning eco-system.
  • This platform seeks to assist the banking, financial, securities and insurance (BFSI) sector in enhancing skills for their employees.
  • Besides, it will help academic institutions in preparing future ready talent skilled for the financial services industry.
  • The NSE Knowledge Hub, launched by NSE Academy, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Stock Exchange (NSE), will bring world class content closer to learners in a personalised and community learning environment which allows aggregation, curation, creation and targeting of content, making it both learner centric and learner driven.
  • Iran has announced that it will fully withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, following the U.S. targeted strike that killed the country’s Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
  • Although President Donald Trump walked away from the landmark nuclear treaty in May 2018, the European Union, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China attempted to keep the international agreement alive.
  • JCPOA is a detailed agreement with five annexes reached by Iran and the P5+1 (China France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) on July 14, 2015.
  • The nuclear deal was endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted on July 20, 2015.
  • Iran’s compliance with the nuclear-related provisions of the JCPOA will be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) according to certain requirements set forth in the agreement.
  • The deal offered Iran sanctions relief and investment in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
  • Central government in consultation with Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) had notified new energy performance standards for room air conditioners (RACs).
  • According to the notification, all brands and types of star-labelled RACs, which are rated from one star to five stars based on their energy efficiencies and manufactured, commercially purchased or sold in India, shall ensure default setting of temperature in the room air conditioners at 24 degrees Celsius, with effect from January 1, 2020.
  • The new norms provide that the Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ISEER) as per the new standards will range from 3.30 to 5 for split and 2.70 to 3.50 for window air conditioners.
  • However, these performance standards, except default temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, will be applicable from January 1, 2021, onwards.

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