9 PM Current Affairs Brief – August 29, 2019

New Study on Jupiter

  1. According to a new study based on informant sent by JUNO, Jupiter has a “fuzzy core” that includes lighter elements like helium and hydrogen. According to scientists, this could be explained by a head-on collision with a still-forming planet about 10 times the size of Earth.
  2. Further, scientists have attempted to explain why Jupiter’s stripes are only skin deep. The blue strips captured in photographs are far zonal winds (alternating east-west jet streams) around Jupiter that descend to a depth about 4 percent of Jupiter’s radius.
  3. Juno is a NASA space mission orbiting the planet Jupiter. It was launched in 2011. The principal goal of Juno is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter.
  4. The Juno mission is the second spacecraft designed under NASA’s New Frontiers Program. The first is the Pluto New Horizons mission.

Star tortoise, otters get higher protection at CITES

  1. India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of star tortoises, the smooth-coated otter and small-clawed otters in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora) have been approved. These species have been listed under Appendix I of CITES.  There will be a complete international ban enforced on their trade.
  2. The decision was taken at the ongoing CoP 18 of CITES being held in Geneva, Switzerland.
  3. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  4. CITES was drafted after a resolution was adopted at a meeting of the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963. The text of the Convention was agreed at a meeting in Washington, DC in 1973; the Convention. The Convention is therefore sometimes referred to as the Washington Convention. CITES entered into force in 1975. At present it has 183 countries.
  5. Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  6. Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
  7. Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.
  8. Indian Star Tortoise Smooth-coated Otter and small clawed otter are listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red list.

New 9.3 crore study to check antibiotic resistance in Ganga

  1. The government has commissioned a project under the National Gang Mission (Namami Gange) to assess the microbial diversity along the entire length of the Ganga. This is to test is the river contain microbes that may promote antibiotic resistance.
  2. The project will be undertaken by scientists at the Motilal Nehru Institute of Technology, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), and Sardar Patel Institute of Science & Technology. Further, start-ups would also participate in the project.
  3. The main aim of the project is to indicate the type of “contamination” (sewage and industrial) in the river and threat to human health (antibiotic resistance surge) they possess. It would seek to identify sources of Eschericia coli- a type of bacteria that lives in the gut of animals and humans.
  4. According to 2014 study, cultural activities such as mass bathing in Ganga during religious mass gathering occasions, levels of resistance genes that lead to “superbugs” were about 60 times greater than other times. This give arise to concerns over potential acquisition and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  5. A 2017 report commissioned by the Union Department of Biotechnology and the U.K. Research Council underlined that India had some of the highest antibiotic resistance rates among bacteria that commonly cause infections.
  6. Antibiotic resistance is a subtype of antimicrobial resistance. Anti-microbial resistance is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and antimalarial) from working against it.

1971 as NRC base year cannot protect Assam’s indigenous, says NGO

  1. Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (ASM), which is an umbrella organisation of several indigenous ethnic organisations, has said that National Register of Citizens (NRC) cannot protect the indigenous people of the State if 1971 remains the base year for identifying foreigners.
  2. The organization had challenged the constitutional validity of March 25, 1971 as the base year for identifying foreigners. It has demanded that 1951 be set as the base year for determining citizenship.
  3. Citizenship Act, 1955- dealing with acquisition and loss of citizenship in India- was amended in 1985 to incorporate Section 6A. This section fixes March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to Bangladeshi migrants in Assam. This was one in accordance to the Assam accord. While for rest of India the date of detection and deportation of foreigners in 1951.
  4. Assam Accord is a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement- a movement against illegal immigrants in Assam.
  5. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register which contains the name of all citizens of India residing in Assam. The process of NRC update in Assam has been taken up as per a Supreme Court order in 2013. The deadline of submitting the final NRC is August 31st.

Ind-Ra cuts GDP growth forecast in FY20 to 6.7%

  1. India Ratings and Research has revised downwards its projection of the country’s GDP growth in financial year 2019-20 to 6.7% from an earlier estimate of 7.3%
  2. The reasons cited for lowering the growth projection are a) a slowdown in consumption demand; b) delayed and uneven progress of monsoon so far; c) decline in manufacturing growth; d) inability of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to resolve cases in a time-bound manner, and e) rising global trade tension adversely impacting exports.
  3. Recently, the Moody’s Investors Service has also cut the GDP growth forecast for the current financial year to 6.2% from the previous estimation of 6.8%.

Cabinet approves Establishment of an International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

  1. The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) along with its supporting Secretariat Office in New Delhi.
  2. The CDRI is proposed to be launched at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, USA on 23rd September 2019.
  3. The CDRI will serve as a platform to generate and exchange knowledge on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure.
  4. It will bring together technical expertise from a multitude of stakeholders to create a mechanism to assist countries to upgrade their capacities and practices with regard to infrastructure development.
  5. At the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR), 2016 India had advocated for a coalition for promoting disaster resilient infrastructure. A task force was constituted by the Home Ministry which in 2018 had submitted its report on “Establishing a Coalition on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)
  6. The AMCDRR is a biennial conference jointly organized by different Asian countries and the UNISDR. At AMCDRR 2016, ‘New Delhi Declaration’ and the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ were adopted. New Delhi Declaration is a political statement which spells out the commitment of participating governments towards preventing and reducing disaster risk, and strengthening the resilience of communities, nations in the Asian region.
  7. The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement on disaster risk reduction. It was adopted in 2015 at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. It is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.

ICFRE-ICIMOD’s REDD+ Himalayan programme extended till 2020

  1. REDD+ programme being carried out in the Himalayan states jointly by Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has been extended till July 2020.
  2. ICFRE-ICIMOD’s REDD+ Himalaya: Developing and using experience in implementing REDD+ in the Himalaya programme was launched in January 2016 in Mizoram.
  3. The programme seeks to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in India’s Himalayan states.
  4. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  5. It was launched in 2005 to mitigate climate change through enhanced forest management in developing countries.
  6. The aim of REDD+ is to encourage developing countries to contribute to climate change mitigation efforts by: a) reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by slowing, halting and reversing forest loss and degradation; and b) increasing removal of GHGs from the earth’s atmosphere through the conservation, management and expansion of forests.
  7. It seeks to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

Talks on global plan to protect biodiversity begin in Nairobi

  1. Government officials, experts and activists from at least 100 countries began talks in Nairobi, Kenya to move towards a new global framework on biodiversity, post-2020.
  2. The 196 Parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity are expected to adopt the new framework during their 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15), scheduled for October 2020 in Kunming, China.
  3. The framework represents the global plan to halt the alarming trends in the state of nature which has been highlighted by recent reports such as IPBES Global Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land
  4. The framework aims to set the world on the path towards living in harmony with nature by 2050. It builds on the UN Convention’s current Strategic Plan on Biodiversity (2011-2020)
  5. Recently, scientists have proposed a time-bound, science-based policy, titled “A Global Deal for Nature (GDN)”, to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth.
  6. Signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. It has 3 main objectives: a) conservation of biological diversity, b)sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and c) fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources

12th India Security Summit

  1. Recently, the 12th India Security Summit was held in New Delhi.The theme of the summit was “Towards New National Cyber Security Strategy”.
  2. During the conference,many issues were discussed such as protection of critical national infrastructure and emerging cyber threats: incidents, challenges and responses.
  3. The Union minister said that cyber security is crucial for digital Governance and its broad ecosystem.He said that the Government has taken various measures to counter cyber threat.
  4. The Ministry of Home Affairs has established Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) to combat cybercrime in the country, in a coordinated and effective manner.
  5. The “Cyber Swachhta Kendra” (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) is a part of the Government of India’s Digital India initiative under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).It is being operated by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team(CERT-In).
  6. It aims to create a secure cyberspace by detecting botnet infections in India and to notify, enable cleaning and securing systems of end users so as to prevent further infections.
  7. In addition,Cyber Swachhta Kendra will also strive to create awareness among citizens to secure their data, computers, mobile phones and devices such as home routers.

NOAPS single window clearing system

  1. The Minister of State for Culture & Tourism has expanded the No Objection Certificate (NOC) online Application Processing System (NOPAS) for National Monuments Authority (NMA).
  2. The system will now be available in 517 local bodies for six states.The six states are Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand and Telangana.
  3. Earlier this system was available only for five urban local bodies of Delhi and one urban local body of Mumbai.
  4. NOAPS was launched by the NMA in 2015.NOAPS will help in online processing of applications requesting NOC for construction related work in prohibited and regulated areas of Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) protected monuments.
  5. National Monuments Authority(NMA) under the Ministry of Culture has been setup as per provisions of “The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act,2010”.
  6. NMA was established to consider grant of permissions to applicants for construction-related activity in the prohibited and regulated areas.

NOAPS single window clearing system

  1. The Minister of State for Culture & Tourism has expanded the No Objection Certificate (NOC) online Application Processing System (NOPAS) for National Monuments Authority (NMA).
  2. The system will now be available in 517 local bodies for six states.The six states are Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand and Telangana.
  3. Earlier this system was available only for five urban local bodies of Delhi and one urban local body of Mumbai.
  4. NOAPS was launched by the NMA in 2015.NOAPS will help in online processing of applications requesting NOC for construction related work in prohibited and regulated areas of Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) protected monuments.
  5. National Monuments Authority(NMA) under the Ministry of Culture has been setup as per provisions of “The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act,2010”.
  6. NMA was established to consider grant of permissions to applicants for construction-related activity in the prohibited and regulated areas.

Govt rolls out scheme to screen all children below 18 for leprosy, TB

  1. The Union government has rolled out a programme for universal screening of children below 18 years for leprosy and tuberculosis(TB).
  2. An estimated 25 crore children and adolescents will be annually screened for the diseases and put on treatment if required.
  3. Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram(RBSK) Mobile Health teams will be implementing the scheme.They will perform the screening of children for TB and Leprosy.
  4. RBSK is aimed at early identification and early intervention for children from birth to 18 years to cover the four Ds (a)defects at birth (b) deficiencies (c)diseases and (d)development delays including disability.
  5. Leprosy also known as Hansen’s disease is a chronic neuro-muscular disorder.It is caused by several strains of Mycobacterium leprae.It has a long incubation period which makes detection difficult.Leprosy can be cured with Multi-Drug Therapy(MDT).
  6. India had eliminated leprosy in 2005.All states except Chhattisgarh and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli have eliminated leprosy. However,there are still 1.15-1.2 lakh new leprosy cases detected every year.
  7. Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious airborne bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It most commonly affects the lungs but can also damage other parts of the body.
  8. TB kills an estimated 4.8 lakh Indians every year and more than 1,400 every day.India has the highest TB burden in the world and also has more than a million ‘missing’ cases every year that are not notified

Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID)

  1. India has become the first country in the world to issue Biometric Seafarer Identity Document(BSID).It will capture the facial biometric data of seafarers.
  2. The project has been launched by the Ministry of Shipping.The new card is in confirmation of the Convention No.185 of the International Labour Organisation on BSID.India ratified the Convention in October 2015.
  3. In India,the BSID project has been taken up in collaboration with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC),Mumbai. 
  4. The project is being implemented under the Merchant Shipping (Seafarers Biometric Identification Document) Rules,2016.
  5. The issuance of BSID involves the (a)collection of biometric and demographic details of the seafarers (b)their verification and (c)issuance of the card to them.
  6. The BSID has the dimensions of a smart ID card.It introduces modern security features like an embedded biometric chip as well as optical security features such as micro prints/micro texts and Unique Guilloche pattern.
  7. A software has been developed for capturing the facial biometrics and its authentication through the public key infrastructure.A record of each SID issued will be maintained in a national database and its related information will be internationally accessible.
  8. This will give a foolproof identification to Indian seafarers which will (a)facilitate their movement (b)provide ease of getting jobs and (c)help in identifying them from any location in the world.

Cabinet eases FDI rules in retail, media

  1. Union Cabinet has eased foreign direct investment(FDI) norms for various industries such as single-brand retail, coal mining, contract manufacturing and digital media.
  2. The changes in FDI policy will result in making India a more attractive FDI destination which may lead to increased investments,employment and growth.
  3. Single brand Retail sector:Currently,the FDI policy says that a single brand retail company with more than 51% FDI needs to source 30% of its goods from within India.
  4. However,the new decision says that this 30% can be calculated over the first five years of operation.Further,sourcing for exports will also count towards the local sourcing requirement.
  5. Another change is that single-brand retail sector can now start selling online before setting up a brick and mortar store as long as they set up one within two years of starting online sales.Earlier,they had to set up a brick and mortar store before selling online.
  6. Contract manufacturing:Cabinethas been decided to allow 100% FDI under automatic route in contract manufacturing in India as well.
  7. Coal Sector:The cabinet has decided to permit 100% FDI under the automatic route for sale of coal, coal mining activities including associated processing infrastructure and other relevant acts on the subject.
  8. Digital media sector:The cabinet has decided to permit 26% FDI under government route for uploading/streaming of news and current affairs through digital media.

Indonesia to move capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan

  1. Indonesia has decided to shift its capital city from Jakarta to the province of East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
  2. The reason for shifting the capital is (a)to ensure a more equitable development amid environmental concerns (b)traffic congestion and air pollution in Jakarta and (c)Jakarta is prone to annual flooding and is one of the world’s fastest sinking cities.
  3. However,environmental groups have raised concerns about endangered species in the area.Kalimantan is one of the few places on earth where orangutans live in their natural habitat.
  4. Further,other countries that have moved their capital include (a)Nigeria – Lagos to Abuja (b)Brazil – Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia (c)Myanmar – Yangon to Naypyidaw (d)Russia – St Petersburg to Moscow and (e)Pakistan – Karachi to Islamabad.

Stress, apathetic attitude taking toll on policing: Study

  1. The survey titled ‘Status of Policing in India Report 2019: Police Adequacy and Working Conditions’,has been conducted by the NGO Common Cause and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
  2. The survey found that except for Nagaland,the average working hours of police officers were between 11 and 18 hours.However,the Model Police Act recommends an 8-hour duty.
  3. The study has also found a decline in the total strength of women in the police from 11.4% in 2007 to 10.2% in 2016.
  4. Another important aspect of the study was the political interference in the police investigation with 28% personnel said that pressure from politicians was the biggest hindrance in their investigations.
  5. The study has also said that more than one-third of police personnel would be willing to give up their profession if they were given a chance to join another job with the same salaries and perks.
  6. The survey also found that while the police personnel were sufficiently trained on physical parameters, weaponry and in crowd control but many lacked training on modules of new technology, cybercrime or forensic technology.
  7. The survey has also referred to India’s poor ranking in the Rule of Law Index by the World Justice Project wherein India has been ranked 68th out of 126 countries.

Simply put: How the forces protect VIPs

  1. The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has said that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will continue to have Z plus security cover after the withdrawal of Special Protection Group(SPG) from his security.
  2. In India,the Government of India provides security to some high-risk individuals with the help of police and local government.
  3. Special Protection Group(SPG) provides security to the (a)Prime Minister(PM) of India (b)Former PM of India and (c)Members of their immediate families wherever they are.
  4. Besides the SPG,VIPs in India are protected by other security forces as well.The levels of security cover are determined by the threat perception around the individual.
  5. The highest level of security cover is the Z-plus category followed by Z, Y plus,Y and X categories.The higher the level of cover,the larger the number of personnel protecting the individual.
  6. Further,the National Security Guard (NSG) is a counter terrorism unit under the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).It was founded in 1984, following Operation Blue Star for combating terrorist activities with a view to protect states against internal disturbances.
  7. The NSG personnel are often referred to in the media as Black Cats. They are deployed to protect VIPs for whom the threat perception is the highest.

Jalan panel proposes change in RBI accounting year, transparent accounts

  1. The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has accepted the Bimal Jalan panel recommendations.It was set up to review the RBI’s economic capital framework.
  2. The economic capital framework reflects the capital that an institution requires or needs to hold as a counter against unforeseen risks or events or losses in the future.
  3. The panel has recommended a review of the RBI’s Economic Capital Framework(ECF) every five years.However,if there is a significant change in the RBI’s risks and operating environment,an intermediate review may be considered.
  4. The panel has suggested that RBI’s accounting year of July-June can be brought in alignment with the fiscal year of April-March from the financial year 2020-21.
  5. This would allow RBI to provide better estimates of the projected surplus transfers to the government for the financial year for budgeting purposes.
  6. The panel has also recommended a more transparent presentation of the RBI’s annual accounts with regard to the components of economic capital.
  7. The panel has also suggested to remove the interim payout structure to government in general circumstances.It has said that payment of an interim dividend may be restricted to extraordinary circumstances.

Russia to push for final orders in $1 bn Kamov copters deal

  1. India is likely to sign the final contract with Russia for 200 Kamov KA-226T light utility helicopters during Prime Minister visit to Russia for the Eastern Economic Forum.
  2. India and Russia had signed the deal for 200 Kamov KA-226T light utility helicopters during Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Russia in 2015.
  3. Under the deal,Russia will supply 60 Kamov KA-226T light utility helicopters in a fly-away condition.
  4. The rest will be assembled in India jointly with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under ‘Make in India’ programme to promote domestic manufacturing.
  5. Kamov 226 is a small, twin engine Russian utility helicopter.It is manufactured by Russian Helicopters.
  6. The helicopter has a maximum takeoff weight of 3.6 tons.It can carry up to one ton payload.It has a maximum speed of 220 Km/hr.
  7. Kamov 226 is capable of working in extreme and difficult weather conditions.This includes hot climate, marine areas and high mountains.
  8. The machine has excellent maneuverability, handling and easy maintenance.Kamov will replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak choppers.

Age of third-degree torture is over, Amit Shah tells police

  1. Union Home minister has attended the 49th foundation day celebrations of the Bureau of Police Research and Development(BPRD).
  2. During the session,he stressed on the need for police reforms and suggested that police force should do away with the age-old third-degree torture and adopt more scientific and new methods of investigation to stay ahead of criminals.
  3. He has also proposed a paradigm shift in the approach to policing and called for a countrywide consultative process to make changes to the IPC and the CrPC.
  4. BPR&D was established in 1970 with the objective of the modernisation of police forces.It is nodal national police organisation to study,research and develop on subjects and issues related to policing.
  5. BPR&D functions under the aegis of Union Home Ministry.It is headquartered in New Delhi.At present it has 4 divisions which are (a)Research (b)Development (c)Training and (d)Correctional Administration.
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