9 PM Current Affairs Brief – February 5th, 2020

Explained: What is the locust attack destroying crops in several countries?

News: Pakistan and Somalia have declared locust emergencies.


About Locust

  • Locusts are a group of short-horned grasshoppers. They multiply in numbers as they migrate long distances in destructive swarms.
  • Four species of locusts are found in India: Desert locust, Migratory locust, and Bombay Locust and Tree locust.
  • Desert locust is regarded as the most destructive pest in India

Locust Hotspots

  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has currently identified three hotspots of threatening locust activity: Horn of Africa, the Red Sea area, and southwest Asia.
  • The Horn of Africa has been called the worst-affected area

Control measures taken by India:

Locust Control and Research scheme:

  •  It is implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) which was established in 1939.
  • LWO was amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Objective: protection of standing crops and other green vegetation from Desert locust

Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) (POINTLY)

News: Bhutan will impose Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) on tourists from India, the Maldives and Bangladesh, beginning July 2020


  • A daily ₹1,200 ($17) fee will be imposed
  • It is meant to help the government deal with increasing numbers in tourist traffic

Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA)

News: Finance Minister, in her budget speech has said that the government was abolishing an anti-dumping duty that was levied on imports of Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA)


About Purified Terephthalic Acid

  • It is a chemical used to make various products, including polyester fabrics. 
  • It makes up for around 70-80% of a polyester product like polyester staple fibre and spun yarn
  • The anti-dumping duty on PTA was imposed after two domestic manufacturers, approached the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) in 2013.

Additional Information:

Anti-Dumping Duty: It is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value.

Directorate General of Trade Remedies:

  • It was established in 2018 and functions under the Ministry of commerce and industry.
  • It subsumed the Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied duties, Directorate General of Safeguards and some functions of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.


  • Administer all trade remedial measures including anti-dumping, countervailing duties and safeguard measure.
  • Provide trade defence support to domestic industry and to exporters in trade remedy investigations instituted by other countries.

Centre to bar domestic RO systems in places where tap water meets BIS norms

News: Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change has published a draft notification that prohibits users from installing membrane-based water purification, mainly reverse osmosis, systems in their homes if the water meets the Bureau of Indian Standards’ drinking water norms.


Membrane-based water purification

  • It is a process that removes unwanted constituents from water using a membrane. Different techniques include:
  • Membrane Filtration – Microfiltration and Ultrafiltration
  • Reverse Osmosis – Nanofiltration/Membrane Softening

Reverse Osmosis: It occurs when water moves through a semi-permeable membrane in the direction opposite to that for natural osmosis. This happens when the water is pushed under greater pressure than the osmotic pressure

Osmosis: It is a phenomenon where water/ solvent flows from a dilute (less concentrated) solution through a semi permeable membrane to a higher concentrated solution.

Additional Information:

Bureau of Indian Standards

  • It is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.
  • It was established in 1986 and is headquartered in New Delhi.

One in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime: WHO report

News: WHO and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have released two reports to mark World Cancer Day (4 February): “Report on Cancer: Setting priorities, investing wisely and providing care for all” and “World Cancer Report: Cancer research for cancer prevention”


Key takeaways: World Cancer Report: Cancer research for cancer prevention


  • In 2018, the WHO registered 18.1 million new cancer cases worldwide. The figure might reach between 29 and 37 million cases by 2040.
  • Cancer cases will increase by 81% by 2040 in low- and middle-income countries due to insufficient resources for prevention


  • In 2018, there are about 1.16 million new cancer cases, 784,800 cancer deaths, and 2.26 million 5-year prevalent cases
  • In India, the six most common cancer types were breast cancer, oral cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer.

Key Recommendations from “Report on Cancer: Setting priorities, investing wisely and providing care for all”

  • controlling tobacco use (responsible for 25% of cancer deaths),
  • vaccinating against hepatitis B to prevent liver cancer,
  • eliminating cervical cancer by vaccinating against HPV,
  • screening and treatment,
  • implementing high-impact cancer management interventions that bring value for money
  • Ensuring access to palliative care including pain relief.

Global Go To Think Tank Index

News:The Global Go To Think Tank Index Report(GGTTI) has been released by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program(TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania,US.


About the index:

  • The index evaluates public-policy research analysis and engagement organisations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues.
  • It claims to enable policy makers and the public to make informed decisions on public policy.

Key takeaways from the index:

  • The index was topped by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace of US followed by Belgium Bruegel and French Institute of International Relations(IFRI).

Index on India:

  • The Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) was placed at 16th position among 176 Global Think Tanks.
  • The Observer Research Foundation(ORF) was ranked 27th in 2019.It was previously ranked 118th position in 2018.
  • Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation was the highest-ranked Indian think tank with a political party affiliation getting a rank of 31st, among 38 such institutions.

Additional information:

About Think-Tank:

  • A think tank is an organization that gathers a group of interdisciplinary scholars to perform research around particular policies, issues or ideas.
  • They play a significant role as they a)fill the gap between academia and policy making b)Influence Policy formulations in the country c) provide a neutral venue for dialogues on different issues among others.

ISRO’s Young Scientist Programme 2020

News:Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) has opened the registrations for the ISRO Young Scientist Programme or Yuva Vaigyanik Karyakram (YUVIKA) 2020.


About YUVIKA Programme:

  • Aim:To impart basic knowledge on Space Technology,Space Science and Space Applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities.
  • Under the programme,three students will be selected to participate every year from each state and union territory covering CBSE, ICSE and state syllabus.
  • Eligibility:Those who have finished 8th standard and currently studying in 9th standard are eligible for the programme.
  • Selection:It is based on the 8th Standard academic performance and extracurricular activities.Students belonging to the rural area have been given special weightage in the selection criteria.
  • The programme has a duration of about 2 weeks which includes a) invited talks, b) experience sharing by the eminent scientists, c) facility and lab visits, d) exclusive sessions for discussions with experts, e) practical and feedback sessions.

East Asia Summit(EAS) Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation

News:The fourth East Asia Summit(EAS) Conference on Maritime Security Cooperation will be held in Chennai,Tamil Nadu.


About the EAS conference on Maritime Security:

  • The EAS Maritime Security Conference has been organized by the Government of India since 2015.
  • The fourth conference is being organized by the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) in partnership with the Governments of Australia and Indonesia.
  • The National Maritime Foundation (NMF) and the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) are the knowledge partners of the Conference.
  • The conference will deliberate upon maritime security cooperation under five thematic sessions namely a) Holistic Maritime Security b) Maritime Safety c) Transition to a Regional Blue Economy d) India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative and e) Way Forward.

About East Asia Summit:

  • The East Asia Summit(EAS) was established in 2005.It is a forum of 18 countries.
  • The concept of an East Asia Grouping was first promoted in 1991 by then Malaysian Prime Minister,Mahathir bin Mohamad.
  • It comprises the ten member states of the ASEAN countries along with 8 members Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.
  • The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia in 2005.India is a founding member of the East Asia Summit.

Blue Dot Network

News:India may join the US-led Blue Dot Network(BDN) during the US President’s visit to India.


About Blue Dot Network:

  • The Blue Dot Network initiative was announced at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok,Thailand in 2019.
  • It is a US led initiative jointly launched by the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation(JBIC). 
  • The aim of this initiative is to bring governments, private sectors and civil societies for promoting high-quality global infrastructure development in an open and inclusive framework.
  • The network will serve as a globally recognised evaluation and certification system for roads, ports and bridges with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region.

Medical Data Leaks

News:According to a Global Report on Medical Data peak,medical details of over 120 million Indian patients have been leaked and made freely available on the Internet.


About the report:

  • The report has been published by Greenbone Sustainable Resilience,a German cybersecurity firm.
  • The first report was published in 2019 which revealed a data leak of a massive number of records including images of CT scans, X-rays, MRIs and even pictures of the patients.
  • The report classifies countries in the good, bad and ugly categories based on the action taken by the governments after the first report was made public.

Key takeaways from the report:

  • India ranks second in the ugly category after the United States of America(USA).
  • Among States,Maharashtra reported the maximum medical data leaks followed by Karnataka and West Bengal.

Implications of Medical Data Leak:

  • The knowledge about certain ailments faced by people from various fields could deal a huge blow to their image. 
  • The fake identities could also be created using the details which can be misused in any possible number of ways.

Ujh Multipurpose Project

News:Union Minister has chaired a meeting to fast-track the implementation of Ujh Multipurpose(National) Project,Jammu & Kashmir. 


About Ujh Multipurpose(National) Project:

  • The project is planned to be constructed in Kathua District of Jammu & Kashmir on the River Ujh, a major tributary of the Ravi river.
  • The project will enhance the utilization of waters of Eastern Rivers allotted to India as per the Indus Water Treaty.

About Indus Water Treaty:

  • The Indus Waters Treaty,1960 is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan.
  • The Indus system comprises of the Indus River, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej.The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan.
  • Under the Indus treaty, all the waters of three eastern rivers namely Ravi,Sutlej and Beas were allocated to India for exclusive use.
  • On the other hand,the waters of Western rivers namely Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab were allocated to Pakistan.But India can use the water in western rivers in non-consumptive needs. Here non-consumptive means we can use it for irrigation, storage and even for electricity production.

India’s Projects on Indus River:

  • India has constructed the Bhakra Dam on Sutlej, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi.
  • Further,India is constructing several other projects such as Shahpurkandi Project, Ujh multipurpose project among others.

National Population Policy

News:Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare) has informed Rajya Sabha about the National Population Policy,2000.


About National Population Policy,2000:

  • The policy reaffirms the Government commitment towards voluntary and informed choice approach and achievement of replacement level of fertility by simultaneously addressing the issues of contraception, maternal health and child survival.
  • The medium-term objective of the policy is to bring the Total fertility rate(TFR) to replacement levels by 2010 through vigorous implementation of inter-sectoral operational strategies. 
  • The long-term objective is to achieve a stable population by 2045 at a level consistent with the requirements of sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

Success achieved so far:

  • Total Fertility Rate(TFR):It is defined as the number of children born to a woman until the end of her child-bearing age.It has declined from 2.9 in 2005 to 2.2 in 2017.
  • States:25 out of 37 States/UTs have already achieved replacement level fertility of 2.1 or less.
  • Decadal growth rate:It gives an overview of the percentage of total population growth in a particular decade.It has declined from 21.54% in 1999-2000 to 17.64 % during 2001-11.
  • Crude Birth Rate(CBR):It indicates the number of live births occurring during the year per 1,000 population estimated at midyear.Ithas declined from 23.8 to 20.2 from 2005 to 2017.
  • Teenage birth rate:It is the births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19.It has halved from 16%(NFHS III) to 8%(NFHS IV).

President inaugurates annual Udyanotsav at Rashtrapati Bhavan

News:The President has inaugurated the Udyanotsav festival at Rashtrapati Bhavan.


About Udyanotsav:

  • Udyanotsav is an annual gardening festival of the Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

About Rashtrapti Bhavan 

  • The Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India located in New Delhi,India.
  • It was constructed by the two architects namely Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker.

About Mughal Gardens:

  • Mughal gardens have been built by the Mughals in the Persian style of architecture. 
  • This style was heavily influenced by the Persian gardens particularly the Charbagh style.

About Charbagh Style:

  • Charbagh is a Persian Style Garden layout in which the main building is put at the centre of a quadrilateral Garden divided by walkways or flowing water into four different directions.
  • This style is usually found in countries throughout Western and South Asia, including Iran and India.

Only 7 in 100 anganwadi beneficiaries are in cities

News:According to Right to Information(RTI) query,for every 100 anganwadi beneficiaries in the country,only seven are in urban areas.


  • There are a total of 7.95 crore beneficiaries of the anganwadi scheme in the country as on September 30,2019.
  • However,only 55 lakh were registered at urban anganwadis.This is because of an acute paucity of anganwadi centres in urban areas.

About Anganwadis:

  • Anganwadi Centres are a type of child and mother care centre in India. They were set up as a part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme.
  • They provide six types of services which include supplementary nutrition; pre-school non-formal education; immunisation, nutrition and health education and referral services.
  • The beneficiaries under the Scheme are children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

About ICDS:

  • Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in 1975 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Aim:Holistic development of under-six children and providing nutritional and health support to pregnant and lactating mothers.

93,000 hectares affected by forest fires in 2019:Govt

News:Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has provided information about forest fires management and prevention in Rajya Sabha.


  • The area covering 93,273 hectares has been affected by forest fires in 2019.This also includes ground fires which means burning of ground vegetation.
  • According to the Forest Survey of India, about 21.40% of forest cover in India is prone to fires with forests in the north-eastern region and central India being the most vulnerable.
  • Mizoram recorded the highest number of forest fire alerts between November 2018 and June 2019.

Initiatives for prevention of Forest fires:

About National Action Plan on Forest Fires:

  • National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF) was launched in 2018 to minimise forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivising them to work with the State Forest Departments.
  • The plan also intends to substantially reduce the vulnerability of forests across diverse forest ecosystems in the country against fire hazards, enhance capabilities of forest personnel and institutions in fighting fires and swift recovery subsequent to fire incidents.

About Forest Fire Prevention and Management scheme:

  • The Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme(FPM) is the centrally Sponsored scheme which replaced the Intensification of Forest Management Scheme(IFMS) in 2017.
  • The scheme aims to a) Minimise forest fire incidences and help in restoring productivity of forests in affected areas b) Encourage partnership with forest fringe communities for forest protection and c) Prepare fire danger rating system and devise forest fire forecasting system.

Draft National Forest Policy,2018:

  • The policy aims at bringing a minimum of one-third of India’s total geographical area under forest or tree cover.
  • It calls for safeguarding ecosystems from forest fires, mapping the vulnerable areas and developing and strengthening early warning systems and methods to control fire based on remote sensing technology and community participation.
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