News: A new snake eel species residing in the Bay of Bengal has been discovered and documented by Zoological Survey of India (ZSI). The new marine species has been named Ophichthus kailashchandrai.
Zoological Survey of India
- The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) is an organization for zoological research and studies to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in India.
- It was established in 1916. It is headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal.
- It functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate.
News: India is in preliminary discussions to be a part of the East Asian Observatories Consortium.
About East Asian Observatories Consortium
- It is formed by EACOA (East Asian Core Observatories Association).
- At present, China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea are full members and Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are ‘observers’,
- It seeks to pursue joint projects in astronomy within the East Asian region
Event Horizon Telescope:
- It is an international collaboration of eight different telescopes at different observatories around the world. It was launched in 2009.
- The first image of a black hole, at the centre of galaxy Messier 87, was published by the EHT in 2019
Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT): It is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT). It is proposed to be built on Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and the highest point in Hawaii.
News: The National Girl Child Day is celebrated in India every year on January 24.
Background: The Ministry of Women and Child Development initiated this celebration in 2008.
- Highlight the inequalities faced by girls in the country
- Promote awareness about the rights of a girl child
- Generate awareness on importance of girl education, health and nutrition.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
- It was launched in 2015.The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
- It is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio through multi sectoral interventions.
- The scheme is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of (a) Women and Child Development (b) Health & Family Welfare and (c) Human Resource Development.
News: Transparency International released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI-2019)
About Corruption Perceptions Index
- It ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people.
- It uses a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean)
Key takeaways from Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI-2019)
- Global average score for 2019 is 43
- The top ranked countries are New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland and Singapore
- The countries ranked at the bottom of the list are Somalia, South Sudan and Syria
- India’s ranking has slipped from 78 to 80 compared to 2018
News: Road Transport and Highways Minister launched a web portal called GATI
- It has been created by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on the lines of PRAGATI portal
- It can be accessed from NHAI Website and contractors/concessionaires can raise any project related issues on the portal.
National Highways Authority of India
- It is the Central Authority to develop, maintain and manage the National Highways in India
- It was constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1988 and functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
- PRAGATI stands for Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation. The platform was launched in 2015.
- The platform is aimed at addressing common man’s grievances and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
- The major objectives of the program are (a) Grievance redressal (b) Project implementation (c) Project monitoring.
News:The Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) for the year 2020 has been released.
About the Index:
- The Global Talent Competitive Index(GTCI) was launched in the year 2013.
- It an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
- The 2020 index has been released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Adecco Group and Google.
- The index gives ranking based on six indicators namely attract, retain, enable, grow, vocational skills and global knowledge skills.
Key takeaways from the index:
- Switzerland secured the first position while the USA is on second and Singapore got third place.
- India has secured 72nd place in 2020.In 2019,India was ranked 80th in the Index.
- Among BRICS countries,China was ranked at 42nd, Russia at 48th, Brazil secured 80th while South Africa grabbed the 70th position in the list.
News:Election commission of India(ECI) will host the 10th Annual Meeting of The Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia(FEMBoSA) in New Delhi.
- Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia(FEMBoSA) was established at the 3rd Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies(EMBs) of SAARC Countries in 2012.
- The forum aims to increase mutual cooperation in respect to the common interests of the SAARC’s EMBs.
- Besides ECI,the other seven members of the forum are EMBs from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Objectives of the forum:
- promote contact among the EMBs of the SAARC countries
- share experiences with a view to learning from each other and
- cooperate with one another in enhancing the capabilities of the EMBs towards conducting free and fair elections.
News:Nepal has invited the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan along with several other heads of government for the Sagarmatha Sambad.
About Sagarmatha Sambad:
- Sagarmatha Sambad is a multi-stakeholder, permanent global dialogue forum with headquarters at Kathmandu,Nepal.
- It is a joint collaborative initiative of Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Institute of Foreign Affairs(IFA) and the Policy Research Institute(PRI).
- The dialogue aims to deliberate on the most prominent issues of global, regional and national significance.
- It is slated to be held biennially, with the first summit at Kathmandu in April, 2020 with the theme ‘Climate Change, Mountains and the Future of Humanity’.
News:Government of India has announced the winners of Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar, 2020.
About the award:
- The award has been instituted to acknowledge the contribution and selfless service of organisations and individuals to humanity in the aftermath of any disaster.
- The award is announced every year on the 23rd January,the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
- All Indian Citizens and organizations who have excelled in areas of Disaster Management (Prevention, Mitigation, Relief or Early Warning) are eligible for the award.
- The award is given in two categories – Individual and Institution.It is given along with cash prizes.
- For 2020,Disaster Mitigation & Management Centre,Uttarakhand (Institution) and Shri Kumar Munnan Singh(Individual) have been selected for their commendable work in Disaster Management.
News:Khadi Village Industries Corporation(KVIC) is trying to get international trademark for ‘khadi’ under the Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property to prevent any product from masquerading as ‘khadi’ nationally or globally.
About Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property:
- The Paris Convention was signed in Paris, France in 1883.It is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization(WIPO).
- The convention applies to industrial property in the widest sense including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, trade names, geographical indications among others.
- As of January 2019,the Convention has 177 contracting member countries.
Major Provisions of the treaty:The substantive provisions of the Convention fall into following categories:
- National Treatment:It establishes that each state must offer individuals or businesses with a patent the same protections as they would give national citizens of their own state.
- Right of Priority:This means that an individual could file a patent for his or her invention in whatever country that person lives in.After a given amount of time,the inventor could file for a patent within any other countries that have agreed to the Paris Convention.
- The amount of time a person would need to wait is around six months for industrial marks and designs and 12 months for utility models and patents.
- Article 6 of the Convention protects armorial bearings, flags and other State symbols of the States part to the convention,including official signs, and hallmarks indicating control and warranty adopted by them.
- WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation.
- It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations with 192 member states.
- It’s mandate governing bodies and procedures are set out in the WIPO Convention which had established WIPO in 1967.
- It’s aim is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all.
News:NITI Aayog released its vision for the National Data and Analytics Platform(NDAP).
About National Data and Analytics Platform(NDAP):
- The National Data and Analytics Platform(NDAP) is being developed by NITI Aayog.
- The platform aims to democratize access to publicly available government data.
- It will host the latest datasets from various government websites, present them coherently and provide tools for analytics and visualization.
- The platform will also follow a user-centric approach and will enable data access in a simple and intuitive portal tailored to the needs of a variety of stakeholders.
- The first version of the platform is expected to be launched by the year 2021.
News : Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Home Minister will monitor the disposal of over 9,400 enemy properties which the government estimates is worth about Rs 1 lakh crore.
About Enemy property:
- When wars broke out between India and China in 1962 and India and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971,the central government took over properties of citizens of China and Pakistan in India under the Defence of India Acts.
- These Acts define an enemy as a country that committed an act of aggression against India and its citizens.The properties of enemies in India were classified as enemy property.
How did India deal with enemy property?
- Parliament of India enacted the Enemy Property Act in 1968.It provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
- The central government through the Custodian is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country.
About Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill,2016:
- In 2017,Parliament passed The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill,2016.
- The bill amended The Enemy Property Act,1968 and The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.
Key features of the bill:
- It makes the Custodian the owner of enemy property retrospectively from 1968.
- It voids the legal sales undertaken by enemies of enemy properties since 1968.This means that a person who may have bought an enemy property in good faith when such sale and purchase was legal, now stands to lose the property.
- It prohibits Indian citizens who are legal heirs of enemies from inheriting enemy property, and brings them within the definition of ‘enemy’.
- It also prohibits civil courts and other authorities from hearing certain disputes relating to enemy property.
News:North Korea will send a delegation to the Munich Security Conference for the first time.
About Munich Security conference:
- It is an annual conference where world leaders discuss the international security challenges.
- The conference takes place in Munich,Germany.It was founded in 1963 by Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin.
- It is the world’s largest gathering of its kind.Its motto is Peace through Dialogue.
- The conference also publishes the Munich Security Report, an annual report of relevant figures, maps, and research on crucial security challenges.
News:The International Court of Justice(ICJ) has unanimously ordered Myanmar to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide of Rohingyas in Myanmar.
About Rohingya crisis:
- Rohingya are an ethnic group largely comprising Muslims who predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine.
- They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.
- But the government of Myanmar denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census refusing to recognise them as a people.It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
- Hence,lakhs of Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and India after facing religious and ethnical persecution in Myanmar.
- This has led to a historic migration crisis and a large humanitarian crisis.
What did the Court ordered?
- The judges have voted unanimously to order Myanmar to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide of Rohingyas.
- These measures include the prevention of killing, and causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group as well as preserving evidence of possible genocide that has already occurred.
- The measures are binding and not subject to appeal but the court has no means of enforcing them.
- The International Court of Justice(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).
- The ICJ has two primary functions a) to settle legal disputes submitted by States in accordance with established international laws and b) to act as an advisory board on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.
Structure of ICJ:
- It is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.
- In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both UN bodies.
- The 15 judges of the Court are distributed in the following regions a) Three from Africa b) Two from Latin America and Caribbean c) Three from Asia d) Five from Western Europe and other states and e) Two from Eastern Europe.
- Further,to ensure a measure of continuity, one third of the Court is elected every three years and Judges are eligible for re-election.
News:India has participated at the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) programme at the World Economic Forum(WEF).
About the Programme:
- The theme of the programme was “Access for all: Leveraging Innovations, Investments and Partnerships for Health”.
- The programme laid emphasis on accessibility of health to all with innovative technologies and solutions and also on bridging economic inequalities.
- The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS(UNAIDS) is an initiative of the United Nations which was started in 1996.It is is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- The main objective of the programme is to coordinate global action on the AIDS disease and alleviate its impact.
- It is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- It has a vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths and a principle of leaving no one behind.
- The UN Political declaration on ending AIDS was adopted in 2016 which seeks to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
About UNAIDS Fast-Track strategy:
- UNAIDS Fast-Track strategy was started in 2014.It plans to step up the HIV response in low and middle-income countries to meet the SDG 3 target to end AIDS by 2030.
- To achieve this,the Fast Track strategy sets out targets for prevention and treatment known as the 90-90-90 target.
- The 90:90:90 target provides that by 2020 a) 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status b) 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy c) 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.