Current Affairs in Short: 22 March 2019
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that India has been one of the fastest growing large economies in the world. The IMF asserted that the country has carried out several key reforms in the last five years and more reforms are needed going forward to sustain the high growth.
India one of world's fastest-growing large economies: IMF
• The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that India has been one of the fastest growing large economies in the world.
• The IMF asserted that the country has carried out several key reforms in the last five years and more reforms are needed going forward to sustain the high growth, including to harness the demographic dividend opportunity.
• This was stated by IMF communications director Gerry Rice while responding to a question on India's economic development in the last five years at a fortnightly news conference in Washington.
• He said that India has been one of the world's fastest-growing large economies of late, with growth averaging about seven per cent over the past five years.
• He said that the details about the Indian economy would be revealed in the upcoming World Economic Outlook WEO survey report to be released by the IMF ahead of the annual spring meeting with the World Bank next month. This report would be the first under Indian American economist Gita Gopinath, who is now IMF's chief economist.
Australia to slash annual permanent migrant intake
• The Australian government has decided to slash the nation's permanent migrant intake from 190,000 to 160,000 in the lead-up to May's general election.
• The announcement will be made as part of the Federal Budget, which will be released by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on April 2. It comes months after Morrison first signaled the move in November 2018.
• The budget is widely considered the government's major opportunity to make up ground on the opposition Australian Labor Party.
• Australia allowed 162,417 permanent migrants in financial year 2017-18. As many as 87 per cent of the 112,000 skilled migrants who arrived in Australia in 2017-18 settled in either Sydney or Melbourne.
• Besides, the Australian government also plans to announce measures to encourage new migrants to Australia to work in regional areas to ease the burden of rapid population growth on Sydney and Melbourne.
India kicks off military drill with 17 African countries
• In the first such military outreach to Africa, where China has made deep strategic inroads, India on March 18, 2019 kicked off an exercise with 17 nations from the continent at the Aundh military station at Pune.
• The inaugural Africa-India field training exercise-2019 (AFINDEX-19)”, being held from March 18 to 27, is aimed at training the participating nations in humanitarian mine action (de-mining and other protocols to handle landmines and explosives) and UN peace-keeping operations in which India has decades of experience.
• The 17 African nations participating in the exercise include Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
• The exercise will focus on best practices, team-building and tactical-level operations in conduct of UN mandated tasks ranging from establishing a new mission and protection of civilians to nuances of combat deployment, convoy protection, patrolling aspects and humanitarian mine assistance.
• India has also been holding defence cooperation talks with countries like Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
• India's defence engagement with South Africa is at a much higher level, with warships and aircraft from the two nations along with Brazil regularly holding the IBSAMAR naval exercise.
Scientists successfully levitate objects with light
• Scientists have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating nanoscale patterns on the objects' surfaces.
• Though still theoretical, the work is a step toward developing a spacecraft that could reach the nearest planet outside of our solar system in 20 years, powered and accelerated only by light.
• Decades ago, the development of so-called optical tweezers enabled scientists to move and manipulate tiny objects, like nanoparticles, using the radiative pressure from a sharply focused beam of laser light.
• This work formed the basis for the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. However, optical tweezers are only able to manipulate very small objects and only at very short distances.
• With the new research, published in the journal Nature Photonics, objects of many different shapes and sizes -from micrometres to metres - could be manipulated with a light beam.
Pakistan to receive over 2 billion US Dollars loan from China
• According to latest reports, Pakistan will receive over 2 billion US Dollars loan from China by March 25, 2019 to provide a boost to its ailing economy.
• Pakistan's Finance Ministry has announced that all procedural formalities for the transfer of the 2.1 billion US Dollars loan being provided by the Chinese government have been completed, and the funds will be deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan's account by March 25.
• Pakistan has received 1 billion US dollars each from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as part of the bailout packages by the two Gulf nations to help shore up Islamabad's dwindling foreign currency reserves.
• Islamabad is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package. Earlier, Pakistan officials said that Islamabad would seek around 8 billion US dollars from the IMF which would be the biggest package by the Fund for Islamabad.
• Although the Pakistan government has secured a breathing space from Saudi Arabian and the UAE loans, an IMF programme is essential to unlock access to resources from other multilateral lenders like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as the global capital markets.
Indian Air Force to participate in LIMA 2019
• The Indian Air Force will participate in Langkawi International Maritime Aero Expo, LIMA 2019. The expo will take place in Langkawi, Malaysia from March 26-30, 2019.
• The Defence Ministry stated in a release that the Indian Air Force is participating in the Expo for the first time and it will showcase its indigenously developed LCA fighter aircraft.
• The participation of the Indian Air Force in LIMA - 2019 will provide an opportunity to air-warriors to interact with their Royal Malaysian Air Force counterparts and foster close relationship between the two services.
• This will also serve as a foundation for any future interaction with the Malaysian Air Force.