1. Ethiopian PM in Sudan to revive democracy talks
• Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called for a quick democratic transition in Sudan as he met the country’s ruling generals and protest leaders, days after a deadly crackdown killed dozens of demonstrators in the capital.
• Mr Ahmed arrived in Khartoum to revive talks between the Sudanese generals and protest leaders after the African Union suspended Sudan on Thursday until the military makes way for a civilian-led transitional authority.
• The move by the African bloc was backed by the European Union amid a chorus of condemnation of Sudan’s military rulers over Monday’s deadly crackdown on a weeks-long sit-in outside army headquarters demanding civilian rule.
• After holding separate meetings with the generals and protest leaders, Mr Ahmed in a signed statement issued to reporters said that the Army, the people and political forces have to act with courage and responsibility by taking quick steps towards a democratic and consensual transitional period. Protest leaders welcomed Ahmed’s mediation but insisted that any fresh talks with the generals could happen only if certain conditions were met.
• The protesters and the military authorities have given sharply divergent death tolls for a recent crackdown. Doctors close to the demonstrators say 113 people were killed in Khartoum, including 40 whose bodies were pulled out of the Nile. The Health Ministry says 61 people died nationwide, 52 of them by ‘live ammunition’ in Khartoum.
2. Donald Trump calls off plan to impose tariffs on Mexico
• US President Donald Trump says he has suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, as the country has agreed to take strong measures to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States
• . Mr Trump last night tweeted that he is pleased to inform that the US has reached a signed agreement with Mexico and the tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the US against Mexico are indefinitely suspended.
• President Trump said Mexico has agreed to work to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to US Southern Border. He said these steps would greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.
• According to a US-Mexico Joint Declaration released by the State Department, the US said it will work to greatly expand a program that returns asylum-seekers who cross the southern border to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated.
3. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena averse to summoning Intelligence Officers before PSC
• Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said that he does not approve of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the Easter Sunday attacks summoning intelligence officers and disclosing intelligence information to the media. The President also noted that no official of the security forces currently in service will be presented to the PSC and he will accept the responsibility for all of them. He said so far the witnesses summoned to the PSC were officers who were removed from the service.
• The President said the Attorney General has informed him that five cases regarding the attacks are being heard in the Supreme Court and appointment of a PSC is detrimental to the ongoing cases. The President further said that he has forwarded the AG’s concern to the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya but expressed regret that the Speaker has not informed parliament in this regard.
• Earlier, IGP Pujith Jayasundara testifying at the PSC had stated that the President asked him not to attend the National Security Council meetings. The IGP, who was sent on compulsory leave after attacks, has filed an FR petition challenging the decision.
• Former Defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando told the committee that he assumed that the President was informed by intelligence inputs about the attacks. Sri Lankan Government had accepted that there were inputs from India about possible attacks but no measures were taken to prevent it.
4. ‘Gandhi Cycle Rally for Peace’ organised in Saudi Arabia
• To mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Embassy in Saudi today organized ‘Gandhi Cycle Rally for Peace’ in association with the Diplomatic Quarter Authority and Saudi Cycling Federation.
• The rally was flagged off by Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi dignitaries, diplomats, members of Indian diaspora and Saudi nationals attended the rally.
• Seven teams were deployed along the 6 km long route to assist the participants. A Saudi cycle acrobatic team performed before the start of the rally.
• Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed stressed on the importance of mobility for leading a healthy lifestyle which Gandhi exemplified led by personal example throughout his life. All the participants were distributed t-shirts and certificates of participation.
• The Cycle Rally was part of the series of events organized globally by the Government of India to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
• About a week ago, the New England Aquarium in the US announced that a “virgin” anaconda had given birth during the winter. The aquarium does not have a male anaconda. Yet Anna, a green anaconda, gave birth to a few babies in January, two of which have survived. In scientific terminology, it is know as parthenogenesis.
• Parthenogenesis is “a reproductive strategy that involves development of a female (rarely a male) gamete (sex cell) without fertililisation. It occurs commonly among lower plants and invertebrate animals (particularly rotifers, aphids, ants, wasps and bees) and rarely among higher vertebrates”.
• A gamete is the egg in females and the sperm in males. In animals, parthenogenesis means development of an embryo from an unfertilised egg cell.
• Many species that reproduce through parthenogenesis do not reproduce sexually. Others switch between the two modes taking cues from the environment.
• About 2,000 species are known to reproduce through parthenogenesis, which is one of the known means of asexual reproduction. Grafting (of plants) is also a type of asexual reproduction.
• Babies born through parthenogenesis are clones of the mother, as has now been confirmed by the aquarium through DNA tests.
• Parthenogenetic offspring tend to be clones of the parent because there has been no exchange and rearrangement of genetic information with another individual as happens in case of a sexual reproductive process.
6. AAI in pact with Boeing for modernising India’s air traffic management
• Boeing will analyse current technologies and processes to identify efficiency improvements that can be implemented
• The objective of the agreement is to develop a roadmap based on global and local best practices to optimally utilise airspace capacity.
• The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and aerospace major Boeing on Tuesday announced the signing of a technical assistance agreement to develop an air traffic management roadmap which will improve airspace utilisation and help maintain efficient aircraft operations.
• The comprehensive 10-year communication, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) modernisation roadmap spread over 18 months is being undertaken with a grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
• The objective of the agreement is to develop a roadmap based on global and local best practices to optimally utilise airspace capacity, enhance communications and invest in navigation, surveillance and air traffic management.
• The implementation of modern technologies and global practices will allow India to increase its airspace capacity significantly by improving communications, enabling flexible use of airspace and allowing the safe processing of additional flights using air navigation infrastructure for smoother and more efficient skies in India.
7. CAG Rajiv Mehrishi electedExternal Auditor for WHO
• Comptroller and Auditor General of India Rajiv Mehrishi has been elected as external auditor of the World Health Organization (WHO) for four years from 2020 to 2023 .
• Mehrishi was elected at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva last month with a majority. Apart from India, others competing for the position were the Auditors General of Congo, France, Ghana, Tunisia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
• Rajiv Mehrishi will take over from the incumbent External Auditor of WHO, the Supreme Audit Institution of Philippines.
• This is the second major international audit assignment for the CAG this year following his selection for the post of External Auditor of Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome earlier this year in March 2019
8. 2019 Global Leadership Award
• Under the leadership of Pichai, Google is not only powering India’s digital economy sector, but also expanding access to technology for millions of Indian citizens.
• The award would be conferred upon Sundar Pichai, and Friedman during the next week’s ‘India Ideas Summit’
• With companies like Google and Nasdaq at the forefront, bilateral trade in goods and services has grown by nearly 150%
• Google’s India-born CEO Sundar Pichai and Nasdaq president Adena Friedman have been chosen for the prestigious Global Leadership Awards 2019 by business advocacy group USIBC in recognition of the two companies’ contribution as the leading technology-driven platforms.
• The award by Washington-based US-India Business Council (USIBC) would be conferred upon Indian-American Pichai, 46, and Friedman, 50, during the next week’s ‘India Ideas Summit’.
• Given annually since 2007, the USIBC Global Leadership Awards recognise top corporate executives from the United States and India whose companies play a major role in catalysing growth in the US-India commercial corridor.
• With companies like Google and Nasdaq at the forefront, bilateral trade in goods and services has grown by nearly 150 per cent over the past five years to reach USD 142.1 billion in 2018, the USIBC said.
9. Russia launches the first Arctic train service
• The first tourist train traveling through Russia’s Arctic region and on to Norway set off from Saint Petersburg station Wednesday with 91 passengers aboard for the inaugural trial journey.
• This destination has been covered by Canadian and Norwegian tourist agencies but, this has not been the case for Russia.
• The train, named “Zarengold” (“The Tsar’s gold” in German) complete with two restaurant cars will travel from Saint Petersburg through Petrozavodsk, the historic town of Kem and Murmansk.
• At Murmansk, by far the largest city north of the Arctic Circle, the tourists will get off the train and continue by bus to Kirkenes in Norway before ending their journey with a boat trip to Oslo or by air to the island of Spitsbergen.
• The whole trip will take 11 days and allow passengers to discover areas difficult to access by other means, according to the organizers.
• For the inaugural ” test journey” the 91 tourists came from seven countries including the US, Germany, Norway and Russia.
10. Digital Sakhi in Tamil Nadu
• L&T Financial Services’ (LTFS) ‘Digital Sakhi’ was launched in 20 villages of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu.
• It is an educational programme aimed at digital financial inclusion of rural women.
• LTFS in association with Sri Aurobindo Society will train and develop a team of 100 rural women (Digital Sakhis) as digital enablers, who in turn, will train about 40,000 others in using digital modes of payments.
• The company has also identified 500 women from trades such as dairy, poultry and goat-rearing, to impart enterprise development training and upskilling.
• The ‘Digital Sakhi’ programme, it aims at digital financial inclusion of rural women in Villupuram in Tamil Nadu. “A Digital Sakhi is a rural woman with a digital device who is equipped with skills and knowledge to impart digital financial literacy training to others
• Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit who launched the programme recently in Chennai, said, “this commendable programme will not only strengthen the country’s future, but also supplement the Digital India campaign launched by the Government of India”.
11. State of India’s Environment 2019
• The State of India’s Environment 2019 in Figures is an exclusive data-driven analysis of major developmental and environmental sectors.
• SoE 2019 in Figures is an annual quantified statement of environmental statistics and analysis put together by Down To Earth magazine, which Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) helps publish.
• The datasets can be used by the media to investigate compelling stories, ask better questions to policymakers to drive them to come up with better policies for sustainable development agenda.
• Air pollution is responsible for 12.5 per cent of all deaths in India. Its impact on children is equally worrying. Over 100,000 children below the age of five die due to bad air in the country.
• While India was one of the first countries to pledge the phasing out of non-electric vehicles, its national scheme to promote the sale of e-vehicles is yet to pick up. Against the target of 15-16 million e-vehicles by 2020, the county had 0.28 million vehicles till May 2019.
• Both surface and groundwater in the country are under stress. 86 water bodies are critically polluted.
• One of the reasons is the substantial increase (136 per cent) in the number of grossly polluting industries between 2011 and 2018.
• India’s farm sector is under duress. While the input costs for major crops are rising, the average farmland size is shrinking. Even the share of the insured cropped area stands at a dismal 26 per cent.
• India’s rural health infrastructure is ailing. There is a 35 per cent shortfall in the number of 24×7 public health centres, where 26 per cent of the positions for medical officers are lying vacant. In fact, Kerala does not have a single 24×7 public health centre. Another worrying trend is that the number of new doctors qualifying every year in the country has decreased by 60 per cent between 2013 and 2017. The country also shares the world’s largest absolute burden of at least 11 major neglected tropical diseases, which includes diseases like dengue.
• India has recently shifted to a powerful forest fire monitoring and alert system, SNPP-VIIRS, which can capture forest fires with better accuracy and precision. In April 2019, the new technology recorded 69,523 forest fires, which was 9.5 times more than that recorded by the earlier technology.
• India has witnessed a 1.9 times increase in the unemployment rate in the past two years. This has especially affected the youth and the educated. Unemployment rate among people with at least a graduate degree was 13.17 per cent in September-December 2018, up from 10.39 per cent in May-August 2017.
12. RBI approves the appointment of Rakesh Makhija as Chairman of Axis Bank
• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has approved the appointment of Rakesh Makhija as chairman of the Axis Bank.
• The board of the bank in March had approved the appointment of Makhija as chairman subject to RBI clearance.
• He will serve as the chairman of the bank, for a period of 3 years, with effect from July 18, 2019, up to July 17, 2022.
• He has held a number of top management positions within the SKF Group.
13. Actress Ruma Guha Thakurta passes away
• Bengali actress and singer Ruma Guha Thakurta passed away following old age-related problems.
• She featured in films such as Jwar Bhata, Ganga and 36 Chowringhee Lane.
• She was the founder of the Calcutta Youth Choir (CYC), which played a role in popularising ‘Gana Sangeet’ or mass songs in Bengal,
• She was the first wife of actor-singer Kishore Kumar.
• After suffering from old age-related ailments, veteran Bengali actress Ruma Guha Thakurta passed away on June 3 at her Ballygunge residence in Kolkata. Founder of Calcutta Youth Choir, a song and dance troupe, Thakurta is the first wife of the late singer Kishore Kumar.
• 84-year-old Thakurta was applauded for her work in Satyajit Ray-directed films like Ganashatru (1989) and Abhijaan (1962). Born in 1934, the actress has worked in several movies and has been a playback singer too. Her funeral will be held today in Kolkata.
14. Nandan Nilekani-led panel on digital payments
• Nandan Nilekani-led panel on digital payments has submitted its recommendations.
• The five-member high-level panel headed by Aadhar architect and former Infosys chairman Nilekani was constituted earlier this year by the central bank tasked to submit a comprehensive report holding consultations with all the major stakeholders to strengthen the digital payments industry which has seen a ten-fold growth in the last five years.
• It has set a target for the government and regulators to achieve a ten-fold volume growth in digital payments over the next three years through customer-friendly pricing mechanisms and broadening access infrastructure.
• Banks need to ensure that no user is more than 5 kms away from a banking access point and if such areas are found, these must be considered ‘shadow areas’ and a local vendor be made a banking correspondent (BC) as he deals in money and stays there.
• Removing transaction charges on digital payments made to government, inducing a competitive Merchant Discount Rates (MDR) pricing structure and easing KYC costs to banks are amongst the key recommendations put forward by the committee.
• The panel has also asked the government to set up special risk mitigation and complaint registering digital portals. A special data monitoring mechanism to garner granular district level data on consumer trends and payment behaviour has also been suggested by the committee for targeted intervention to improve the existing infrastructure.
15. Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS)
• Formerly under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Jan Shikshan Sansthan was transferred to the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship in 2018.
• Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS) were established to provide vocational training to non-literate, neo-literate, as well as school dropouts by identifying skills as would have a market in the region of their establishment.
• They were formerly known as Shramik Vidyapeeth.
• The JSSs are unique, they link literacy with vocational skills and provide large doses of Life Enrichment Education (LEE) to the people.
• They aim for convergence with other stakeholders in society. It is their endeavour to shape their beneficiaries into self reliant and self-assured employees and entrepreneurs.
16. 2023 Asian Cup
• China will stage the 2023 Asian Cup football after South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia dropped their bids.
• This was confirmed by the Asian Football Confederation in Paris.
• It will mark the second time for China to host the quadrennial continental tournament.
• In the 2004 edition, China had finished runners-up to Japan.
17. ICC turns down BCCI’s request to allow Dhoni to continue wearing army insignia on his gloves
• International Cricket Council yesterday turned down the BCCI’s request to allow Indian player Mahendra Singh Dhoni to continue wearing the army insignia on his wicket-keeping gloves. • ICC in a statement said that the regulations for ICC events do not permit any individual message or logo to be displayed on any items of clothing or equipment. In addition to this, the logo also breaches the regulations in relation to what is permitted on wicketkeeper gloves. • ICC statement said that if Dhoni and BCCI manage to convince them that the ‘Balidan Badge’ does not have any political, religious or racial message it may consider allowing him to continue wearing it on his gloves. • Earlier, the veteran wicket-keeper batsman was seen donning the ‘Balidan’ (sacrifice) badge on his glove during India’s first World Cup match against South Africa on June 5.
18. FIFA Women’s World Cup
• France beat South Korea 4-0 in the opening match of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Paris yesterday.
• France’s Wendie Renard scored two goals, while, Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer scored one goal each. The French dominance was evident through 13 corners, 66 percent possession and 17 more shots.
• Germany will meet China in the first encounter of the tournament while Spain will meet South Africa in another encounter.