9 PM Current Affairs Brief – August 21, 2019

WHO will release its first report on microplastics in drinking water

  1. The World Health Organization(WHO) will be releasing it’s report on the presence of microplastics in drinking water.
  2. The report will examine the potential human health risks associated with exposure to microplastics in the environment.
  3. Microplastics are plastics which are less than five mm in diameter in size.
  4. They enter the environment either as primary industrial products such as those used in scrubbers and cosmetics or via urban waste water and broken-down elements of articles discarded by consumers.
  5. Earlier,various studies were conducted to determine microplastics in bottle water.However,most of these studies had ended by saying there is a lack of data to know the impact of microplastics consumed via drinking water.
  6. The WHO study will elaborate as to how different microplastics cause different health impacts and how the chemicals that are attached to them come from various sources of environment and impact our health specifically. 
  7. The WHO study will also enumerates as to how the biofilms which are microorganisms that grow on these microplastics cause toxicity to us.
  8. The report will also pegs certain water treatment methods as the ones which can be used to minimise the occurrence of microplastics in water besides ways and means of reducing their very presence in the environment.

Piggery development project

  1. Chief Minister of Meghalaya has met with Union Minister for Animal Husbandry to discuss piggery development project.
  2. The piggery development project is to be launched in Meghalaya.The project will be financed by the National Cooperative Development Corporation(NCDC) along with the State Government. 
  3. The proposed Piggery development project aims to boost domestic availability of pig meat in the entire North Eastern Region and also promote its exports thereby giving livelihood opportunities to the people.
  4. The project will also create awareness amongst the rural people to take up Piggery farming with improved breeding stock.
  5. The National Cooperative Development Corporation(NCDC) is a statutory Corporation set up under an Act of Indian Parliament in 1963.
  6. It is the sole statutory organisation functioning as an apex financial and developmental institution exclusively devoted to cooperative sector.It supports cooperatives in diverse fields apart from agriculture and allied sectors.

Iceland bids farewell to ‘Ok glacier’, the first glacier lost to climate change

  1. Iceland has honoured the passing of Ok Jokull glacier.It is the first glacier lost to climate change in the world. 
  2. The glacier was officially declared dead by the Icelandic Meteorological Office when it was no longer thick enough to move.What once was glacier has been reduced to a small patch of ice atop a volcano.
  3. A bronze plaque was also unveiled in a ceremony to mark Okjokull which translates to “Ok glacier” in the western Iceland.
  4. The plaque was labelled with “415 ppm CO2” referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere.
  5. Iceland loses about 11 billion tonnes of ice per year.Scientists fear that all of the island country’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200.
  6. Since the early 1900s,many glaciers around the world have been rapidly melting.Human activities are at the root of this phenomenon.
  7. Further,since the industrial revolution,carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions have raised temperatures even higher in the poles.This has led to glaciers rapidly melting by calving off into the sea and retreating on land.

Why New Delhi is turning up the heat on PoK now

  1. India’s Defence Minister had said that if bilateral talks between India and Pakistan were to happen,it will be on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(POK).
  2. This statement shows shifts in India’s position on J&K from offensive to defensive policy.It will also put China on alert as it seeks to push ahead with its plan for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC) which passes through POK.
  3. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(PoK) is that part of Jammu and Kashmir which was invaded by Pakistan in 1947.
  4. The region is divided into two parts namely the (a)Azad Jammu and Kashmir(AJK) and (b)Gilgit-Baltistan.Pakistan ceded a part of PoK, called the Trans Karakoram Tract to China in 1963.
  5. AJK has its own constitution,a prime minister and a president although real power is vested with Pakistan.However,the administration of Gilgit-Baltistan was handed over to Pakistan by AJK in 1949.
  6. PoK is of immense strategic importance because of its location.It shares borders with Pakistan to the west, Afghanistan in the north-west, China to the north and India’s Jammu and Kashmir to the east.
  7. India’s position has been that since the king of J&K had signed the instrument of accession with India,the whole of J&K including PoK is legitimately an essential part of India.

Explained: Why the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was a timely policy intervention

  1. Recently,a study has shown that Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was a timely intervention to rectify the harm caused by Household Air Pollution (HAP).
  2. The emissions of PM2.5 generated by the burning of solid fuels in households is termed Household Air Pollution(HAP).The study claims that more than 8 lakh premature deaths occur in India every year as a result of exposure to HAP indoors.
  3. Moreover,the HAP produced indoors travels outdoors and also becomes a contributor to ambient air pollution.
  4. PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter refers to particles or droplets with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less.
  5. Such particles can travel deep into the respiratory system and exposure to them can cause several adverse health effects, both short-term and long-term, including respiratory problems and heart disease.
  6. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.The scheme was launched in 2016.It aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG.
  7. The scheme provides free LPG connections to economically weaker families.The connections are issued in the name of women of the households.
  8. Under the scheme,cash assistance of Rs. 1600 is given to the beneficiaries to get a deposit-free new connection.Further,interest free loan is provided to purchase stove and refill by Oil Marketing Companies

IIT Kharagpur to steer Saraswati 2.0 for reuse of treated water

  1. IIT Kharagpur will be implementing the multi-institutional Saraswati 2.0 project.
  2. The project has been funded by the European Union and the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology and Biotechnology. 
  3. The objective of the project is to identify the best available as well as affordable technologies for wastewater treatment and provide solutions to the challenges of water use in both rural and urban areas.
  4. The project was selected under the EU-India Joint Call on Research and Innovation for Water.
  5. India and Europe have been collaborating intensively on water by enriching each other’s technological and scientific knowledge and management capacities to cope with stress on water resources.

Tax notices to soon carry an identification number

  1. Central Board of Direct taxes(CBDT) has said that all communications made by the tax department to tax assessees from October 1,2019 will have to carry a Document Identification Number(DIN).
  2. Document identification number(DIN) is the new system of identification number that Income tax department has introduced for the taxpayers.
  3. The DIN will be generated by the income tax department and is made mandatory for any income tax related communication including filing of income tax returns. 
  4. Any communication that does not include the Document identification number(DIN) will be considered invalid according to section 282b of the Income Tax Act.
  5. This move is aimed at improving accountability and transparency in tax administration.It is expected that this move would also help taxpayers detect fake notices and letters as the notice would be verifiable on the e-filing portal.

Election Commission to revisit ‘D’ voter criterion ahead of final NRC

  1. Ahead of the publication of the National Register of Citizens(NRC), Election commission(EC) may revisit the criteria whether those excluded from NRC should be marked as ‘D’(Doubtful) voters.
  2. The system of ‘D’ (dubious or doubtful) voters was introduced in 1997 by the Election Commission.Doubtful voters are those who have been disenfranchised during electoral roll revision for their alleged lack of proper citizenship credentials. 
  3. While ‘D’ voters continue to remain on Assam’s electoral roll,they cannot vote in an election unless their case is decided by a Foreigners Tribunal. 
  4. However,the Government has said that those excluded from the draft NRC will be allowed to vote as exclusion from the NRC does not automatically make someone a foreigner.
  5. Foreigners Tribunal(FT) was set up in Assam in 1964 through the Foreigners Tribunal Order 1964.The tribunals are mandated with identifying the legal status of suspected foreigners in Assam.

Assam NRC is India’s internal matter: Jaishankar

  1. India’s External Affairs Minister is on a two day visit to Bangladesh. 
  2. During his visit,India’s foreign minister has said that National Register of Citizens (NRC) process which is now underway in Assam is an internal matter to India.
  3. On Rohingya issue,the minister said that the safe and speedy return of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State in Myanmar is in the national interest of the three countries — Bangladesh, Myanmar and India.
  4. Bangladesh has been facing an influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.It has asked India’s support in handling the crisis by mounting pressure on Myanmar to take back the refugees who have taken shelter in the country.
  5. On Teesta water issue,the minister said that India’s position and commitment to the pending Teesta water agreement remained as it was earlier.
  6. Teesta is a river which originates in the Himalayas and flows through Sikkim and West Bengal to merge with the Brahmaputra in Assam and (Jamuna in Bangladesh).The water sharing agreement has not been signed due to opposition from West Bengal as water is a State subject.

Centre to double time limit to appeal NRC ouster to 120 days

  1. The Central Government has proposed to double the time limit available for filing an appeal against non-inclusion of persons in the National Register of Citizens(NRC) in Assam
  2. At present,the time limit for filing of appeal in foreigners tribunals(FTs) is 60 days.This will be amended to increase the time limit to 120 days.
  3. Under the provisions of the Foreigners Act,1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order,1964 only Foreigners Tribunals are empowered to declare a person as a foreigner.
  4. Thus,non-inclusion of a person’s name in NRC does not by itself amount to him/her being declared as a foreigner.
  5. The National Register of Citizens(NRC) is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam.It was prepared in 1951.
  6. Currently,the NRC is being updated in Assam.It seeks to identify illegal migrants in Assam who had entered the state on or after 25th March 1971.The update is being carried out under the Citizenship Act,1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord,1985.

Pakistan to approach ICJ over Kashmir issue

  1. Pakistan has announced that it would take Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice(ICJ).
  2. The tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated ever since India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.
  3. This move comes after the United Nations Security Council(UNSC) held a closed-door,informal consultation on the Kashmir situation although there were no statements or outcomes.
  4. Following the UNSC meeting,India had underlined that the revocation of J&K special status was an internal matter and that these decisions have no external ramifications.
  5. ICJ was established in 1945 by the United Nations charter.It is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations situated at the Peace Palace in The Hague,Netherlands.
  6. It is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.Its objective is to settle legal disputes submitted to it by (a)states (b)duly authorized international branches and (c)UN General Assembly.

National Medical Commission Act has two key contradictions.

  1. Parliament has passed the National Medical Commission(NMC) Bill, 2019 which seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act,1956.
  2. However,experts have said that there are two fundamental contradictions and inconsistencies in the NMC Act,2019.
  3. The first contradiction is that Section 15(1) of the NMC Act act has proposed a common exit examination called National Exit Test(NEXT) for the purpose of ‘licensing’ 
  4. Section 15(5) says that NEXT would serve the purpose of national eligibility and entrance test(NEET) towards admission to postgraduate courses in broad specialities.However,nowhere it is mentioned that NEXT would serve the purpose of conferment of MBBS degree.
  5. The second contradiction is that Section 32 of the NMC act provides for licensing of non medical persons or Community Health Providers to practise modern medicine.
  6. However,the term Community Health Provider has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in NMC and be licensed to practise modern medicine.
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