Current Affairs 18 June 2019 – Today | GK


1. The government decides to remove the minimum educational qualification for transport vehicle drivers:

  • Government has decided to remove the requirement of minimum educational qualification for transport vehicle drivers. At present, according to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, a transport vehicle driver needs to have passed class eight. Road Transport and Highways Ministry in a release said the move will benefit skilled persons in economically backward areas.
  • The Ministry said, the decision will also help meet the shortage of nearly 22 lakh drivers in the transport and logistics sector, which is hindering its growth. It said the Haryana government had requested for waiver of the educational qualification condition for drivers from the economically backward Mewat region where the population is dependent for livelihood on low-income earning pursuits including driving.
  • However, while removing the requirement of minimum educational qualification, the Ministry has emphasized upon training and skill testing of drivers so that road safety is not compromised in any way. The Ministry said anyone applying for a driving license will have to mandatorily pass a stringent skill test.
  • It emphasized that training imparted by a school or establishment should ensure that the driver can read signs and perform logistical duty such as maintenance of driver logs, an inspection of trucks and trailers, submission of pre-trip and post-trip records, determination of discrepancies in paperwork and effective communication to report safety hazards.
  • The Ministry  said the government has initiated the process of amendment to the rule of Central Motor Vehicles 1989 and the draft notification in this regard will be issued soon

2. India extends 15 million dollars grant assistance to Niger in support of organizing of AU summit:

  • India has extended 15 million dollars grant assistance to Niger in support of organizing of the African Union summit scheduled from 7th of next month in capital Niamey.
  • The grant assistance was symbolically handed over by Ambassador of India to Niger Rajesh Agarwal to Deputy Foreign Minister of Niger Mrs. Lamido Ousseini Bala Goga Salamatou in the presence of Minister and Special Advisor to the President of Niger Mohammed Saidil Moctar at a ceremony held yesterday in Niamey.
  • The External Affairs Ministry in a statement said the support of grant assistance was in response to a specific request made by the Government of Niger. Niger is hosting the AU Summit for the first time. The AU Summit in Niamey is also expected to launch the historic African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
  • India and Niger enjoy close relations. Bilateral relations have expanded significantly since the opening of the Indian Resident Diplomatic Mission in Niamey in 2009. India has provided Lines of Credit worth 96.54 million dollars to Niger for projects in transport, electrification, solar energy, and potable drinking water.
  • India is also establishing Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre, MGICC under grant assistance in Niamey. The Centre honors the memory of Mahatma Gandhi whose 150th birth anniversary is being observed in 2019. The Centre is likely to host some meetings associated with the forthcoming AU Summit.
  • India’s grant assistance for organizing the AU Summit will further contribute towards enhancing of bilateral ties. The grant assistance is also a reiteration of India’s firm commitment towards Africa

3. Cyprus expects ‘stronger’ EU stand on Turkey’s drilling:

  • Cyprus says the European Union should adopt a firmer stance over Turkey’s bid to drill for oil and gas inside the island’s exclusive economic zone. President Nicos Anastasiades said he was not optimistic about Turkey changing its tact, but he expects Brussels to show decisiveness when dealing with the issue. Cyprus has issued arrest warrants for crew members of Turkey’s drilling ship, Fatih.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Ankara would not back down from its gas exploration. After a summit of southern EU countries in Valletta, the seven nations on Friday expressed “serious concern” over drilling activities within Cyprus’s EEZ. They urged the EU to consider appropriate measures in case Turkey does not cease its “illegal activities”.
  • The Turkish foreign ministry on Saturday said the declaration was “biased” and contrary to international law. It accused the EU of siding with bloc members Cyprus and Greece. The discovery of huge gas reserves in the Mediterranean has fuelled the race to tap underwater resources. Meanwhile, Turkey accused the United States of not acting as an ally in its official response to Washington’s ultimatum to abandon a Russian missile defense system deal.
  • The Turkish defense ministry said in a statement “the wording and approach” of a letter sent early this month by Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan “was not in the spirit of an alliance (and) caused unease”. Shanahan’s letter warned Ankara has until July 31 to renounce the S-400 purchase or Turkish pilots would be booted from US training on America’s latest-generation F-35 fighter jets.
  • Ankara’s push to buy the missile defense system from Moscow has caused significant tension between the NATO allies. NATO ties are already strained by multiple issues including US support for a Syrian Kurdish militia viewed as terrorists by Turkey. Despite US concerns over the S-400 system’s interoperability with NATO equipment, Turkey has repeatedly said it would not back away from the deal.
  • Erdogan at the weekend said Ankara expected the first deliveries of the Russian system in the first half of July. Washington has also warned Turkey faces economic sanctions if it goes through with the deal

4. Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit North Korea from June 20 to 21:

  • Chinese President  Xi Jinping will visit North Korea from June 20 to 21 at the invitation of Kim Jong-Un. The spokesperson for the International Department of the ruling Communist Party of China, Hu Zhaoming, disclosed this in Beijing.
  • His visit coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Xi’s visit, the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years to the internationally isolated country reeling under UN sanctions for pursuing nuclear weapons program, comes ahead of his proposed meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of G-20 summit scheduled to be held on June 28-29 in Tokyo

5. Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic continue as World No. 1 in latest WTA, ATP rankings:

  • Japan’s Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic of Serbia continue as World Number ones in the latest WTA and ATP rankings announced. The rankings were announced ahead of Wimbledon which is just two weeks away.
  • Naomi Osaka is just 252 points ahead of world No.2 Ashleigh Barty of Australia in unchanged top 20 WTA rankings. Osaka and French Open winner Ashleigh Barty are playing on the grass in Birmingham this week in preparation for the Wimbledon.
  • Novak Djokovic leads the men’s ATP tennis rankings ahead of French Open champion Rafael Nadal and former world number one Roger Federer. The top of the ATP rankings remains unchanged a week after Nadal claimed the Roland Garros title with victory over Dominic Thiem in the final.
  • Federer lost to Nadal in the semis in his first appearance in Paris since 2015 and will be playing on the grass in Halle in Germany tomorrow as the focus switches to the Wimbledon build-up


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