9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 19th, 2020

Explained: The Pulse Polio Programme and why India still runs it

News:Recently,Rashtrapati Bhavan became the site of a polio vaccination drive, to mark the beginning of this year’s Pulse Polio Programme.


About Polio:

  • Polio is an acute infectious disease caused by polio virus.The virus is a human enterovirus of the Picornaviridae.Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age.
  • It is transmitted from one person to another by oral contact with secretions or faecal material from an infected person.
  • It attacks the central nervous system through the bloodstream and damage the cells and paralyse the victim.There is no cure for polio as it can only be prevented.
  • India was declared polio free in 2014 and the last case was reported in January 2011.

About Pulse Polio Programme:

  • India had launched the Pulse Polio immunisation programme in 1995, after a resolution for a global initiative of polio eradication was adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1988.
  • The children in the age group of 0-5 years are administered polio drops during national and sub-national immunisation rounds (in high-risk areas) every year.
  • Under the programme,all states and Union Territories have developed Rapid Response Teams (RRT) to respond to any polio outbreak in the country.
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans(EPRP) have also been developed by states indicating steps to be undertaken in case of detection of a polio case.

Why is India still running the programme?

  • To prevent the virus from coming to India, the government has since March 2014 made the Oral Polio Vaccination(OPV) mandatory for those travelling between India and polio-affected countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Syria and Cameroon.

Development Support Services to States (DSSS) for Development of Infrastructure

News:NITI Aayog and Ladakh have signed an MoU under which NITI Aayog will support Ladakh through its initiative Development Support Services to States for Infrastructure Projects(DSSS).


About Development Support Services to States for Infrastructure projects:

  • The Development Support Services For States(DSSS) For Infrastructure Projects is implemented by the NITI Aayog.
  • The initiative aims to establish a Centre-State partnership model and reignite and establish Private Public Partnership across infrastructure sectors.
  • It was launched to de-risk projects and address key structural issues in project development and build institutional and organizational capacities.
  • The initiative involves providing project level support from concept plan till financial closure to State Governments / UTs.
  • NITI Aayog has appointed Ernst & Young LLP  as its consultant to engage with states to identify a project shortlist and providing transaction management for implementing selected infrastructure projects on ground.

Government launches Seismic Hazard Microzonation to minimize earthquake disasters

News:The Ministry of Earth Science has launched Seismic Hazard Microzonation project in major cities of India.


Aim of the project:The project aims to reduce hazards of seismic activities by putting in adequate measures.

About Seismic Hazard Microzonation:

  • Seismic Hazard Microzonation is the process of identifying the earthquake prone areas based on its geological and geophysical characteristics.
  • The characteristics include ground shaking, landslides, liquefaction susceptibility, rock fall hazard and flooding caused due to earthquakes among others.
  • Based on this division, mitigation measures and preventive methods are prepared to minimise the losses.

Significance of the project:

  • The technique gives better mitigatory measures as it helps to understand the impact of seismic activities precisely.
  • It can also be helpful in certain places, where no reliable model can be implemented as it helps in adopting preventive measures.

Where has the microzonation completed?

  • Currently,the microzonation has been completed in the State of Sikkim and in other eight cities namely Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Guwahati, Jabalpur, Dehradun Ahmedabad and Gandhidham.
  • Further,Japan is the best example where microzonation techniques are well implemented.

Department of Military Affairs(DMA)

News:The Ministry of Defence(MoD) has approved the rules of business for the newly created Department of Military Affairs(DMA).


About Department of Military Affairs(DMA):

  • The Department of Military Affairs(DMA) is headed by the Chief of Defence Staff(CDS).
  • It is the fifth department in the Ministry of Defence(MoD).The others being the Department of Defence, the Department of Defence Production, the Department of Defence Research and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare.

Services under the Department of Military Affairs(DMA):

  • Promotions and postings of senior officers
  • War wastage reserves of 3 forces
  • Procurement of ammunition
  • Major Infrastructure projects like creation of new naval bases
  • Overseas deployment of warships
  • Size, shape and composition of army
  • Supply of arms and ammunition to neighbouring nations.

Services retained by Ministry of Defence:

  • All capital procurements
  • Any matter that has an impact on defence policy
  • Secretariat of Defence acquisition Council among others.

World Gold Council report: RBI ranks 6th in buying gold abroad

News:The World Gold Council (WGC) recently released its report, “World Gold Outlook 2020”.


Key takeaways from the report:

  • The Gold has performed the best in 2019.Since, 2010 the gold trade in dollars has increased by 18.4% in 2019.
  • The Reserve Bank of India ranks 6th in buying gold abroad.Currently,it holds 625.2 tonnes of gold.This is 6.6% of the country’s foreign exchange.
  • The other 5 countries that have bought more gold than India include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Poland.
  • Further,the demand for gold in 2020 for India will depend upon (a) financial uncertainty and lower interest rates (b) weakening in global economic growth and (c)gold price volatility.

Additional information:

World Gold Council (WGC)

  • The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry. It is an association of the world’s leading gold producers.
  • It was established in 1987 and is headquartered in the United Kingdom.

Gold Reserves

  • Gold reserves are central banks’ total holding of gold as a percentage of their foreign exchange reserves.
  • WGC gold reserve data are based on International Monetary Fund’s International Financial Statistics (IFS) which tracks central banks’ reported purchases and sales along with gold as a percentage of their international reserves.

CVC releases framework for advisory board for banking and financial frauds

News:The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has released a framework for the Advisory Board for Banking and Financial Frauds.


About Advisory Board for Banking Frauds(ABBF):

  • The Advisory Board for Banking frauds will be four-member board.It will be headed by former Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin.
  • It will function as the first level of examination of all large fraud cases before recommendations or references are made to the investigative agencies by the respective Public Sector Banks. 
  • The board’s jurisdiction will be confined to those cases involving officers of General Manager level and above in the PSBs in respect of an allegation of fraud in a borrowal account.
  • The banks would refer all large fraud cases above ₹50 crore to the board and on receipt of its recommendation or advice,the bank concerned would take further action in such matter.

Additional information:

About CVC:

  • The CVC was set up by the Government in 1964 on the recommendation of the Santhanam Committee.In 2003,the Parliament enacted CVC Act conferring statutory status on the CVC.
  • The CVC is not controlled by any Ministry or Department.It is an independent body which is only responsible to the Parliament.CVC receives complaints on corruption or misuse of office and recommend appropriate action.

Commerce minister to lead Indian delegation to WEF 2020 in Davos

News:Commerce Minister will lead the Indian delegation to the 50th World Economic Forum at Davos from January 20 to 24,2020.


About World Economic Forum 2020:

  • The World Economic Forum’s 2020 meeting will be held in Davos ,Switzerland.
  • The meet will be held under the theme of ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’.
  • The meetings aim to engage world leaders in collaborative activities to shape the global, regional, and industry agendas at the beginning of each year.

Issues to be discussed at WEF 2020:The four Global issues which will feature prominently are:

  • To address the urgent climate and environmental challenges that are harming our ecology and economy
  • To transform industries to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive business models as new political, economic, and societal priorities change trade and consumption patterns
  • To govern the technologies driving the fourth industrial revolution so they benefit business and society, while minimising their risks to them
  • To adapt to the demographic, social, and technological trends reshaping education, employment, and entrepreneurship.

About World Economic Forum(WEF):

  • WEF was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva,Switzerland.
  • The objective of WEF is to improve the state of the world by engaging business,political,academic and other leaders of society to shape global,regional and industry agendas.
  • The reports published by the WEF are (a)Global Competitiveness Report (b)Global Gender Gap Report (c)Global Risks Report and (d)Global Travel and Tourism Report among others.
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