9 PM Current Affairs Brief – June 5, 2019

India at 95 on maiden Gender Index

  1. The first of a kind edition of SDG Gender Index 2019  has been released.India has been ranked at 95th among 129 countries on the Index.
  2. The SDG Gender Index has been developed by Equal Measures 2030 which is a joint effort of regional and global organisations.
  3. The index accounts for 14 out of 17 SDGs(sustainable development goals) that cover aspects such as poverty, health, education, literacy, political representation and equality at the workplace.
  4. A score of 100 reflects the achievement of gender equality in relation to the targets set for each indicator.But a score of 50 signifies that a country is about halfway to meeting a goal.
  5. The index found that the world is far from achieving gender equality with 1.4 billion girls and women living in countries that get a very poor grade. The global average score of the 129 countries which represent 95% of the world’s girls and women is 65.7 out of 100 (poor in the index).
  6. Altogether, 2.8 billion girls and women live in countries that get either a very poor (59 and below) or poor score (60-69) on gender equality.Just 8% of the world’s population of girls and women live in countries that received a good gender equality score(80-89) and no country achieved an excellent overall score of 90 or above.
  7. India performs best in health (79.9), hunger & nutrition (76.2), and energy (71.8).But its lowest goal scores are on partnerships (18.3, in the bottom 10 countries worldwide), industry, infrastructure and innovation (38.1) and climate (43.4).

India slams OIC for naming Special Envoy on Kashmir

  1. Indian government has rejected the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) reference to Jammu and Kashmir in a communiqué adopted at its summit meeting in the Saudi Arabia.
  2. The 14th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was held in Mecca,Saudi Arabia.The OIC had reiterated its support for the legitimate rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir(J&K) and has also appointed a special envoy for the state of J&K.
  3. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states.It is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations.
  4. The organisation states that (a)it is the collective voice of the Muslim world and (b) works to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony.The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
  5. At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in May 2018, Bangladesh had suggested that India where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims lives should be given Observer status but Pakistan had opposed the proposal.
  6. However,India’s External Affairs Minister had addressed the Inaugural session of the 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC in Abu Dhabi after India was invited by United Arab Emirates(UAE) as the Guest of Honour.

RBI study moots boost to acceptance infra for digital payments

  1. The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has released a report titled “Benchmarking India’s Payments Systems”.The report provides a comparative position of the payments ecosystem in India relative to comparable payments systems and usage trends in other major economies.
  2. The study has found that India has a strong regulatory system and robust large value and retail payments structure which have contributed to the rapid growth in the volume of transactions.
  3. However,the report says that India is required to take further efforts to bring down the volume of paper clearing and increase acceptance infrastructure to enhance digital payments.
  4. The report said that the relatively high level of cash in circulation offers scope for higher level of digitisation of payments.Also,the decline in cheque usage has been slow.
  5. Further,the growth in the volume of payments systems transactions has been strong and steady.There has also been an increase in point-of-sale terminals including mobile terminals.But this may not be enough to cater to a large population.
  6. The report has also stated that digital communications infrastructure in the form of a robust mobile network is growing strong but broadband infrastructure lags behind.

Global growth to slow in 2019, says World Bank

  1. The World Bank has released its Global Economic Prospects report, 2019.The report has forecasted that the World economy will expand 2.6% in 2019 compared with a projection of 2.9% it made in January, 2019.
  2. The growth was downgraded due to (a)trade conflicts (b)financial strains (c)unexpectedly sharp slowdowns in wealthier countries and (d)build-up of government debt.
  3. The report has warned that the world’s poorest countries will face the most daunting challenges due to entrenched poverty, fragility and geographic isolation.
  4. Further,the World Bank has projected that India will grow at 7.5% in the next three years supported by robust investment and private consumption.
  5. The report said that Private consumption and investment will benefit from strengthening credit growth amid more accommodative monetary policy with inflation having fallen below the Reserve Bank of India’s target.
  6. The World Bank has said that India will continue to retain the position of being the fastest growing emerging economy.And by 2021,its growth rate is projected to be 1.5% more than China’s 6%.

Relief for Kiran Bedi as SC restrains Puducherry government

  1. The Supreme Court has directed the Puducherry government not to implement decisions having financial implications which could be taken during the Cabinet meetings.
  2. This direction comes after Centre and Puducherry Lieutenant Governor (LG) filed a plea seeking to maintain the status quo that existed before the Madras High Court order.
  3. Recently,Madras High Court had ruled that LG does not have the powers to interfere or act independently in the day-to-day affairs of the elected government.
  4. In matters of finance,administration and service matters,the High Court had said that LG could only act on the advice of the council of ministers.
  5. The Madras High Court order had effectively dismissed a clarification issued by the Home Ministry in 2017 which had said that the lieutenant governor has powers to act independently and is not bound by the council of ministers.
  6. The Puducherry legislature was created through a parliamentary law, based on an enabling provision in Article 239A of the Constitution.
  7. The Government of Union Territories Act,1963 provides for a Legislative Assembly of Puducherry with a Council of Ministers to govern the Union Territory of Pondicherry.The same Act also says that the UT will be administered by the President of India through an Administrator(LG).

Food safety is everyone’s business: WHO

  1. The first-ever World Food Safety Day adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018 will be celebrated on 7 June,2019 under the theme “Food Safety, everyone’s business”.
  2. According to World Health Organisation (WHO),an estimated 600 million cases of food-borne diseases occur annually around the world.This translates into one in 10 people falling ill after eating contaminated food.
  3. Further,Children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the food-borne disease burden with 1,25,000 deaths every year.
  4. The WHO has said that food borne diseases is an increasing threat to human health which impede socio-economic development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade.
  5. It has also recommended various ways to ensure food safety such as (a)complying with global food standards (b)establishing effective regulatory food control systems (c)applying good agricultural practices and (d)building capacities of consumers to make healthy food choices.

Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of LGBTQ+ movement

  1. Google has celebrated the 50 years of LGBTQ+ movement with a doodle.The doodle slideshow takes the viewer through five decades of Pride history starting from 1969 to present.
  2. The Pride Parade is a symbol of celebration and liberation for the entire LGBTQ+ community.
  3. The movement dates back to 1969 in New York when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons clashed following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar at Christopher Street.
  4. This riot fuelled further protests and led to LGBT pride marches being organised on a much larger public scale.
  5. Further,June is considered as ‘LGBT Pride Month’ to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969.Many pride events are held during this month to recognise the impact LGBT people have had world over.
  6. In 2018,Supreme Court had decriminalised same-sex relationships in India by partially striking down the provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  7. Section 377 criminalised voluntary carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.Though the law did not explicitly mention LGBTQI community,the phrase against the order of nature came to be referred for same-sex sexual relations.

Former President Pratibha Patil awarded Mexico’s highest civilian honour for foreigners

  1. Former President of India Pratibha Patil has been conferred with the “Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca”(Order of the Aztec Eagle).It is the highest civilian award of Mexico given to foreigners.
  2. She was awarded for her contribution in strengthening the humanitarian relations between India and Mexico.
  3. The award was created in 1993 by the then President of Mexico, Abelardo L. Rodriguez.It is given to prominent heads of state or government, ambassadors after they have served in Mexico.
  4. Pratibha Patil is the first Indian woman and second Indian after Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan to receive such an award.
  5. Earlier Dr. Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II (2nd) and Bill Gates were also honoured with this award.

AAI inks pact with Boeing on air traffic management

  1. Airports Authority of India has signed a technical assistance agreement with Boeing to develop a 10-year Air Traffic Management (ATM) modernisation roadmap for India.
  2. The objective of the agreement is to develop a roadmap for AAI to use as a guide in the modernisation of the Indian National Airspace System (NAS) based on global and local best practices to optimally utilise airspace capacity, enhance communications and invest in navigation, surveillance and air traffic management.
  3. Boeing will analyse current technologies and processes to identify areas where efficiency improvements can be implemented while maintaining a practical and safe airspace system.
  4. As part of the project, Boeing will also work closely with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, airlines operating in India, airport operators and other airspace stakeholders like the US-India Aviation Cooperation program.
  5. The Airports Authority of India or AAI is a statutory body created through the Airports Authority of India Act,1994.It works under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
  6. It is responsible for creating, upgrading, maintaining and managing civil aviation infrastructure in India.It provides Communication Navigation Surveillance / Air Traffic Management(CNS/ATM) services over Indian airspace and adjoining oceanic areas.

Tokyo seeks ‘2+2’ meeting with Foreign, Defence Ministers

  1. India’s External Affairs Minister and his Japanese counterpart had held a telephone conversation to discuss maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region.
  2. The two countries have decided to hold their first 2+2 level dialogue this year ahead of Indian Prime Minister and Japan Prime Minister annual summit.
  3. The 2+2 meeting refers to a meeting of foreign and defence ministers of both countries.India has 2+2 mechanism with the USA.

Italy’s Mount Etna, Europe’s Highest Volcano, Spews Ash And Fire

  1. Mount Etna which is the largest of Italy’s three active volcanoes has been ejecting ash and lava once again.This new phase of eruptions has started as two new cracks in the volcano opened up sending lava down its flank.
  2. Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology(INGV) has said that prior activity took place before the eruption with a series of seismic events occurring in the weeks leading up to two fissures opening on Mount Etna’s New Southeast Crater.
  3. Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and one of the world’s most frequently erupting volcanoes.It is also the volcano with the longest record of continuous eruption.
  4. It is located near the east coast of the island of Sicily in Italy, Mount Etna is 10,900 feet tall.The mountain’s largest feature is the Valle del Bove (Valley of the Ox),a large horseshoe-shaped caldera on the eastern slope.
  5. Etna sits on the active fault between the African plate and the Ionian microplate, which are both being subducted together beneath the Eurasian plate.
  6. In June 2013,it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population,Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations.

‘Cyclone man’ Mrutyunjay Mohapatra appointed IMD chief

  1. Renowned scientist and cyclone warning specialist Mrutyunjay Mohapatra has been appointed as the chief (Director General of Meteorology) of India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  2. The IMD is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology
  3. IMD is mandated to issue warning to people about severe weather phenomenon like cyclones, dust storms, heavy rain and snow, cold and heatwaves, among others.
  4. It provides current and forecast meteorological information for optimum operation of weather sensitive activities like agriculture, shipping, aviation, offshore oil exploration etc.

‘Dolphins may have died due to environmental conditions’

  1. A team of scientists and researchers from the College of Fisheries, Mangaluru has ascertained the causes behind the deaths of two dolphins which were recently stranded along the shore of the Mukka and Sasihitlu beach, Mangaluru, Karnataka.
  2. According to the team, the dolphins could have died due to various environmental conditions such as extreme tidal fluxes, extreme weather condition, solar storms, human activities, illness or injury or pollution (toxic effects of oil spill).
  3. In India, Dolphins are protected species as per the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The government has also declared Gangetic Dolphin as the national aquatic animal. Gangetic dolphin is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List.
  4. India also has a sanctuary for conservation of Gangetic Dolphin known as the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, located in Bhagalpur District of Bihar.

Most healthy Indians resistant to common antibiotics: Study

  1. A study published by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found antibiotic resistant organisms in the digestive tracts of 2 out of every 3 healthy persons that it tested.
  2. The study was based on analysis of stool samples of 207 individuals who had not taken any antibiotic for at least a month and did not suffer from any chronic illness.
  3. The maximum resistance was seen for cephalosphorins (60%) and fluoroquinolones (41.5%). These are two commonly used antibiotics, the first is used for treating UTIs, skin or soft tissue infections and the latter for common bacterial infections.
  4. Such a high prevalence of antibiotic resistance among healthy people has pointed out a rapid spread of antibiotic resistance in the Indian population which is a cause of concern.
  5. Antibiotic resistance is a type 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 antimalarials) from working against it. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises AMR as a serious threat to global public health.
  6. The two major causes of antibiotic resistance are: a) Inappropriate use of antibiotics, b) Rampant use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry animals.

Nipah is confirmed, precautions in place

  1. The Nipah virus has resurfaced in Kerala with the confirmation of the infection in a 23-year-old college student. Earlier, in 2018, there was a Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala.
  2. Nipah Virus is a zoonotic virus i.e. transmitted from animals to humans. It is a member of the genus Henipavirus in the family Paramyxoviridae. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of Nipah virus.
  3. It was first recognised in 1998-99 during an outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.
  4. Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans from animals (such as bats or pigs), or contaminated foods and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human.
  5. Nipah virus infection in humans causes asymptomatic infection, acute respiratory infection and fatal encephalitis.  It has a high case fatality rate estimated to range between 40 and 75%
  6. There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals. The primary treatment for humans is supportive care.

Researchers turn plastic waste into jet fuel

  1. A research group led by Washington State University scientists has found a way to turn daily plastic waste products into jet fuel. The research has been published in the journal Applied Energy.
  2. The research team had tested low-density polyethylene and mixed a variety of waste plastic products, like water bottles, milk bottles, and plastic bags, and ground them down to around 3mm
  3. The plastic granules were then placed on top of activated carbon in a tube reactor at a high temperature, ranging from 430 degrees Celsius to 571 degrees Celsius. The carbon is a catalyst, or a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction.
  4. After testing several different catalysts at different temperatures, the best result they had produced a mixture of 85% jet fuel and 15% diesel fuel.
  5. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental crisis today. Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.
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