9 PM Current Affairs Brief – June 6, 2019

Telangana’s women farmers get their due

  1. The women sangams (groups) of the Deccan Development Society, an agro-based NGO  have been awarded the United Nation’s Equator Prize for 2019. They are one of the 20 recipients of the 2019 Equator Prize.
  2. They have been selected for standing as ‘an outstanding example of a local, nature-based solution to climate change and sustainable development.’ The women farmers have built their own seed banks and grow millets in the predominantly rain-fed villages of Sangareddy district, Telangana.
  3. The Equator Prize, organized by the Equator Initiative within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is awarded biennially. It recognizes outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
  4. Equator Prize winners are selected by an independent Technical Advisory Committee. It assesses nominations based on a) measurable and positive environmental, social and economic impacts, b) innovation, c) Scalability and/or replicability, d) Resilience, Adaptability, and Self-Sufficiency, e) Social inclusion and e) Gender equality.
  5. The Equator Initiative is a partnership that brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.

Fee waived off for SC/ST candidates joining vocational training under Jan Shikshan Sansthans

  1. Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has announced that Fee for SC/ST candidates who has joined vocational training under Jan Shikshan Sansthans(JSS) has been waived off.
  2. This decision was taken to further strengthen the skill ecosystem benefiting those in the underprivileged sections of society.
  3. Jan Shikshan Sansthans(JSSs) are established to provide vocational training to non-literate, neo-literate, as well as school dropouts by identifying skills that would have a market in the region of their establishment.
  4. Currently,there are 247 JSSs working across the country imparting vocational skill training programmes and entrepreneurship benefits.
  5. Earlier,JSS was under the Ministry of Human Resources Development but it has now been transferred to the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.

Parthenogenesis: How an anaconda gave birth without a male

  1. Recently,the New England Aquarium in the US has announced that a virgin anaconda had given birth during the winter.But the aquarium does not have a male anaconda.This is only the second known case of parthenogenesis in green anacondas.
  2. The term parthenogenesis is an amalgam of the Greek word parthenos meaning virgin and genesis meaning origin.
  3. Parthenogenesis is defined as a reproductive strategy that involves development of a female (rarely a male) gamete (sex cell) without fertililisation. Many species that reproduce through parthenogenesis do not reproduce sexually.
  4. A gamete is the eggs in females and sperm in males.In animals, parthenogenesis means development of an embryo from an unfertilised egg cell.
  5. About 2,000 species are known to reproduce through parthenogenesis, which is one of the known means of asexual reproduction.Grafting (of plants) is also a type of asexual reproduction.
  6. Further,babies born through parthenogenesis are clones of the mother because there has been no exchange and rearrangement of genetic information with another individual as happens in case of a sexual reproductive process.

Finance Commission hold meeting with representatives of Autonomous Development Councils (ADCs) of Meghalaya

  1. The 15th Finance Commission has held a meeting with the representatives of the Autonomous District Councils(ADCs) of Meghalaya.There are 3 ADCs in Meghalaya namely the Khasi Hills ADC,Garo Hills ADC and Jaintia Hills ADC.
  2. Autonomous District Councils in the tribal dominated areas of North East are administrative bodies constituted in accordance to Sixth Schedule Article 244 (2) & Article 275(1) of the Indian Constitution.
  3. The 6th schedule of the Indian Constitution provides for special arrangements for the administration of tribal area in the four north eastern States- Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  4. The term of the Autonomous District Councils is for five years from the date of their constitution.The autonomous district council are governed by an Executive Committee.
  5. The functions of ADCs under schedule 6 of the constitution includes (a) making laws on land (b)management of forests, except reserved forests (c)appointment of traditional chiefs and headmen (d)making rules regulating the inheritance of property, marriage, divorce,constitution of village courts and (e)to undertake development works like construction of roads, waterways etc.
  6. The main Revenue Sources of ADCs includes (a)taxes on professions, trades, callings and employment (b)taxes on animal, vehicles and boats (c)taxes on the entry of goods into a market and sale therein and tolls on passengers and goods carried on ferries and (d)taxes for the maintenance of schools,dispensaries or roads.

PM Modi to head Cabinet committees on growth, employment

  1. The Government of India has reconstituted six Cabinet Committees and has formed two new Committees.
  2. The committees includes (a)Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (b)Cabinet Committee on Accommodation (c)Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (d)Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (e)Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs and (f)Cabinet Committee on Security
  3. The two new cabinet committees formed are (a)Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth and (b)Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development.
  4. The six committees will be headed by the Prime Minister.The two remaining committees which are Committees on Parliamentary Affairs and Accommodation will be chaired by the Home Minister.
  5. The two new Cabinet committees have been constituted to address the twin problems of sluggish economic growth and rising unemployment.
  6. This committee on Investment and growth will be a focussed group to take measures to bring investments and spur growth in the critical sectors including infrastructure, manufacturing and agriculture.

China launches its first sea-based space rocket

  1. China has launched one of its Long March 11 rockets from a launch pad on board a ship in the Yellow Sea. This is the first time China has launched a space-bound rocket from a seaborne platform.
  2. China has joined USA and Russia as the only three countries with proven ability to launch rockets into space from sea. However, China is the only country to have launched from a sea platform and using launch technology that they solely and fully own and operate.
  3. The world’s first launch at sea was made in April 1967 with a Scout B carrier rocket, developed by the United States, from the San Marco platform off the coast of Kenya. The most recent sea launch took place in May 2014, when Sea Launch, a multinational joint venture, sent a Zenit-3SL rocket
  4. Launching rockets at sea can offer several advantages over land-based rocket launches. Firstly, the rocket can lift off closer to the equator, where Earth’s spin naturally provides a speed boost and decreases the amount of fuel needed to reach orbit thus reducing the launch cost.
  5. Further, compared with conventional land-based launches, a sea-based launch has a lower risk of causing trouble for densely populated areas along the rocket’s trajectory.
  6. China’s space rocket launch from a seaborne platform is another significant achievement in space programme. Recently, China became the first nation to land a rover on the far side of the moon.
  7. China has also decided to send a manned mission to moon and to build a scientific research station there.
  8. Further, China has also announced that its Tiangong or “Heavenly Palace”, a space station, will go into orbit in 2022. It is set to replace the International Space Station (ISS) which is due to be retired in 2024.

TN gets $287-m World Bank loan for healthcare reform

  1. The central government,Tamil Nadu and the World Bank have signed a $287 million loan agreement for the state’s Health System Reform Programme.
  2. The program aims to (a)improve the quality of health care (b)reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases(NCDs) and (c)fill equity gaps in reproductive and child health services.
  3. The Tamil Nadu Health System Reform Program will also support the state government to develop (a)clinical protocols and guidelines (b) achieve national accreditation for primary, secondary, and tertiary-level health facilities in the public sector.
  4. Further,the program will also help in strengthening physicians,nurses and paramedics through continuous medical education and also strengthen the feedback loop between citizens and the state by making quality and other data accessible to the public.
  5. Tamil Nadu ranks third among all Indian states in the NITI Aayog Health Index.The state’s maternal mortality rate has also declined from 90 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 62 deaths in 2015-16 while infant mortality has declined from 30 deaths per 1000 live births to 20 in the same period.
  6. NITI Aayog Health Index ranks all states and Union territories based on their year-on-year incremental modification and overall performance in health.All States and UTs are graded in 3 classes to make sure comparison among similar entities.In terms of all performance,Kerala topped the list among the Larger States.

Army’s special training exercise ends in Punjab

  1. The major exercise called as Kharga Prahar has been conducted jointly by the Indian Army and Indian Air Force in Chandigarh on June 4, 2019.
  2. Kharga Prahar exercise was undertaken in plains of Punjab by various units and formations of Army’s Kharga Corps.
  3. The exercise was successful in validating latest operational concepts which are designed to deliver a swift punitive blow to India’s adversary.
  4. The exercise has also brought out valuable lessons and also reinforced a high degree of operational preparedness of the Kharga Corps.
  5. The Indian Army’s II Corps, based in Ambala is known as Kharga Corps. It has been stationed at Ambala since 1985.
  6. Kharga possesses 50% of Indian Army’s offensive capabilities and on integration with multiple military formations it has proved an effective weapon in various wars.
  7. In 1971,Bangladesh Liberation War Kharga Corps was positioned in West Bengal and helped in creation of Bangladesh.During the Kargil conflict in 1999,this elite force was deployed somewhere in the desert sector.

EC to review penalty for ‘false plaint’

  1. The Election Commission has decided to re-examine the Rule 49MA which prosecutes a voter for making a false complaint of malfunction of an electronic voting machine(EVM) or voter verifiable paper audit trail machine(VVPAT).
  2. Rule 49MA says that voter who claims that the EVM or the VVPAT machine did not record his or her vote correctly is allowed to cast a test vote under Rule 49 MA of the Conduct of Election Rules.
  3. However,if the voter fails to prove the mismatch,poll officials can initiate action under Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code for giving a ‘false submission’.
  4. The Section also says that the person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or both.
  5. Recently,the Supreme Court had sought the Election Commission’s response on a plea which had asked the apex court to strike down Section 49MA under Conduct of Elections Rules,1961.
  6. The petitioner in its plea had said that Section 49MA was unconstitutional as it criminalised reporting of malfunctioning of EVM or VVPATs.The plea contended that the onus of proving an allegation cannot be on a voter when machines used for voting showed deviant behaviour.
  7. Further,the petitioner had also said that Section 49 MA deters people from coming forth to complain.The rule infringes upon a citizen’s right to freedom of expression which is a fundamental right of free expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Indian Navy steams ahead with its go ‘green’ plans in eco-friendly push

  1. Indian Navy has taken various initiatives towards the goal of Clean and Green Navy.
  2. Indian Navy has formulated a plan called as Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap(INECR).The roadmap aims for reduction in energy consumption and diversification of energy supply as the key result areas.
  3. Indian Navy has pledged 1.5% of its works Budget towards Renewable Energy generation.
  4. The Indian Navy has also formulated Green Initiatives Programme which would aid in boosting the national interests of environment sustainability and self-reliance in energy.Green Initiatives Programme has added a new dimension called as social responsibility into it.
  5. Further,24 MW of Solar Photovoltaic(PV) projects consisting of both Rooftop and Land based solar panels are under execution at various shore establishments of the Navy under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission(JNNSM).
  6. Indian Navy has also focused attention towards addressing the menace of Air Pollution by way of various environmental remediation measures for mitigating it such as (a)sapling plantation (b)horticulture (c)anti-plastic drive and (d)effluent treatment plants
  7. Indian Navy has also organized awareness drives and programmes by means of coastal cleanship,lectures to enhance participation and ensure better outreach amongst communities and contribute to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Centre wants all States to join Ayushman Bharat

  1. Union Health Minister has urged Delhi, Odisha, Telangana and West Bengal to join Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
  2. The Minister said that by joining Ayushman Bharat states would gain (a)resources (b)national portability (c)state-of-the-art technological platforms (d)implementation systems and (e)world-class analytics systems at no additional cost.
  3. They will also benefit from a well-proven fraud monitoring and control system and exchange of key learning and best practices of other states towards equitable healthcare.
  4. Ayushman Bharat or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana(PMJAY) is the National Health Protection Scheme which targets to cover over 10 crore poor vulnerable families (around 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage of up to ₹5 lakh (per family per year) for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.The benefit cover includes pre and post hospitalisation expenses.
  5. PMJAY has subsumed the on-going centrally sponsored schemes –Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).It is an entitlement based scheme with entitlement decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the Socio Economic Caste Census database.

By 2025, India to have 88 mn 5G connections

  1. According to Global telecom industry body GSMA,India will have 920 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025 which will include 88 million 5G connections.
  2. 5G (5th Generation) is a version of mobile communications. It succeeds LTE mobile networks- 4G, 3G, and 2G (GSM). In telecommunication, Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a standard for wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals.
  3. According to experts,5G would provide near-instantaneous connectivity —20 times faster than 4G. The other expected benefits of 5G include reduced latency (faster response time), energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and mass device connectivity.
  4. India has not yet conducted any 5G field trials but the Huawei had been working with Indian telecommunication companies to setup field trials which is expected to happen in the second half of 2019.
  5. One of the barriers to 5G connectivity in India is the infrastructural gap. According to the National Digital Communications Policy 2018,India currently has approximately 1.5 million kilometres of optical fibre cable (OFC) and less than one-fourth of the towers are fibre-connected.

10% drop in H-1B visa approvals in 2018: U.S.

  1. According to the US authorities,H-1B visa has registered a 10% decline in the approval rates in the fiscal year 2018.
  2. The approval rates of H-1B visa have come down due to US administration policy of clamping down on the use of the work visa programme.
  3. Further,US President policy of Buy American and Hire American which seeks to create higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers has also led to the decline in H-1B visas.
  4. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
  5. Dependents of H-1B visa holders get H-4 visas.The US Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS) is the federal agency mandated with the task of approving such applications for H-1B visa.

Nirmala Sitharaman to attend G-20 Finance Ministers’ meeting in Japan

  1. Finance Minister will attend the two-day meeting of G-20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors in Japan.The deliberations at this meeting would be followed by the G-20 Leaders Summit scheduled on June 28,2019 at Osaka,Japan.
  2. The G-20 finance ministers are likely to discuss issues such as (a)infrastructure investment (b)resilience against natural disasters and (c)strengthening health financing for ensuring health for all in developing countries.
  3. The other issues which would be discussed are international taxation in the context of digitised economy, issues concerning shifting of tax liability to low tax jurisdiction and real time exchange of tax-related information.
  4. G20 is an international forum of the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies formed in 1999.The group accounts for 85% of world GDP and two-thirds of the population.They have no permanent staff of its own and its chairmanship rotates annually between nations divided into regional groupings.
  5. The members of the G20 consists of 19 individual countries plus the European Union (EU).The 19 member countries of the forum are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada,China,France,Germany,India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia,Saudi Arabia,South Africa,South Korea,Turkey,United Kingdom and the United States.
  6. The objectives of the G20 are:(a) Policy coordination between its members in order to achieve global economic stability, sustainable growth (b) To promote financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises and (c)To create a new international financial architecture.

India’s services sector activity growth slips to 12-month low

  1. According to Nikkei India Services Purchasers manager Index(PMI) ,services sector activity has slowed down to 50.2 in May,2019 from 51.0 in April,2019.
  2. This slowdown has happened due to disruptions arising from the elections in the month of May which had affected the growth of new work intake.
  3. However,the index has said that the slowdown may be temporary as companies has stepped up hiring and became more confident about future prospects.
  4. PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity — both in the manufacturing and services sectors.It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before.The
  5. PMI is derived from a series of qualitative questions.Executives from a reasonably big sample,running into hundreds of firms are asked whether key indicators such as (a)output (b)new orders (c)business expectations and (d)employment were stronger than the month before and are asked to rate them.
  6. The headline PMI is a number from 0 to 100.The figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity.Anything below 50 denotes contraction.
  7. The rate of expansion can also be judged by comparing the PMI with that of the previous month data.If the figure is higher than the previous month’s then the economy is expanding at a faster rate. If it is lower than the previous month then it is growing at a lower rate.

To mark Environment Day, Rupani kicks off Sabarmati clean-up drive

  1. To mark World Environment Day, the Gujarat Chief Minister has launched Swachh Sabarmati Maha Abhiyan’. It is a 5-day long cleaning drive which will last till June 9th 2019.
  2. The Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) National Water Quality Programme has included the Sabarmati among the most polluted rivers in the country. Under the National Water Quality Programme, CPCB along with state pollution control boards monitors the quality of water bodies at 2500 locations across India.
  3. The Sabarmati River is one of the major west-flowing rivers in India. It originates in the Aravalli Range of the Udaipur District of Rajasthan and meets the Gulf of Khambhat of Arabian Sea. It flows through parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  4. Mahatma Gandhi had set up Sabarmati ashram on the banks of the river after his return from South Africa in 1915.

Nipah case: 7 in isolation and 314 quarantined in Kerala

  1. The numbers of suspected Nipah virus infection cases in Kerala has risen to 7. Samples from the patients have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) labs at Alappuzha and Pune.
  2. The National Institute of Virology is an Indian virology research institute. It was previously known as ‘Virus Research Center’ and was founded in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation. It has been designated as a WHO H5 reference Laboratory for SE Asia region
  3. According to WHO, the Nipah virus infection is a newly emerging zoonosis, that is, a disease transmitted from animals to humans. The virus belongs to a genus termed Henipavirus (subfamily Paramyxovirinae).
  4. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural host of Nipah virus. The virus is present in bat urine, and potentially in bat faeces, saliva and birthing fluid. Fruits contaminated with bat secretions may potentially transfer the virus.
  5. Humans are infected after direct contact with infected bats, pigs or from other Nipah-virus infected persons.
  6. 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%
  7. There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals. The primary treatment for humans is supportive care.

Workshops on prevention of drug use to be held for students

  1. The Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has decided to conduct workshops on prevention of drug use for 8lakh students across India. The workshops would be conducted with the help of State education boards and NGOs working in this field.
  2. The decision to conduct the workshop is in lines with the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2025) which highlights the need for education to prevent use of drugs among children.
  3. According to the Magnitude of Substance Use in India report submitted in 2019 by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of the AIIMS, 1.3% of children between 10 and 17 years reported current use of alcohol. Further, 0.9% reported use of cannabis, 1.8% reported use of opioid and 1.17% reported use of inhalants.
  4. In 2018, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment drafted the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2025). The five year action plan aims to reduce to the adverse consequences of drug abuse in India through a) education, b) de-addiction and c) rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families.
  5. The Government of India has also brought out National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) in 2012 to combat drug menace in a holistic manner.
  6. Further, the government has had enacted Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in 1985 to make stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Imperative to test all pregnant women for gestational diabetes

  1. A recent paper published in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India has highlighted the need to screen every pregnant woman for gestational diabetes even if no symptoms are exhibited.
  2. Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is defined as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) with onset or first recognition during pregnancy.
  3. Undiagnosed or inadequately treated GDM can lead to significant maternal & fetal complications. Maternal risks of GDM include polyhydramnios, prolonged labour, obstructed labour, caesarean section, uterine atony, postpartum haemorrhage, infection and progression of retinopathy. These are the leading global causes of maternal morbidity and mortality.
  4. Fetal risks include spontaneous abortion, intra-uterine death, stillbirth, congenital malformation, shoulder dystocia, birth injuries, and infant respiratory distress syndrome.
  5. Further, women with GDM and their off springs are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other non-communicable diseases later in life. Type 2 diabetes is characterised by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin.
  6. To prevent and minimize maternal and fetal morbidity associated with GDM, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India had released a national guideline for provision of universal screening and management of GDM as part of the essential antenatal package.
  7. The guidelines recommend early testing during the first trimester i.e. Week 1 to 12. If the test is negative, the guidelines recommend to repeat the test between 24-28 weeks.

Studying Olive Ridleys in Odisha

  1. A proposal has been made to establish a permanent research centre dedicated to Olive Ridley Turtles in the Khallikote forest range, near the Rushikulya rookery on the Odisha coast. A rookery is a communal nesting ground of animals.
  2. The research centre would study the mass nesting of Olive Ridleys and the environmental factors related to it. It would also study the coastal flora and fauna.
  3. Further, a museum would be opened for the general public where skeletons and eggs of different marine turtles would be displayed. It would also include models and interactive displays.
  4. The Research Centre would also work to alleviate myths and unscientific theories related to the mass nesting. Recently, it became viral on social media that the turtles had sensed Cyclone Fani and did not visit the rookery for mass nesting. However, past data proved the assumption wrong. Mass nesting occurred at the rookery in 1999 and 2013, when major cyclones hit the Odisha coast
  5. The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles in the world. They inhabit in the warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. It is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.
  6. The Olive Ridley turtles are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada. During Arribada, a large number of female turtles come together on the same beach to lay eggs. Such mass nesting phenomenon is also observed among Kemps Ridley turtle.
  7. An important breeding area for olive Ridleys in the Indian Ocean along the Bay of Bengal is Odisha. There are three major mass nesting areas: a) Gahirmatha rookery close to the mouth of Brahmani-Baitarani Rivers, b) Devi river mouth and c) Rushikulya river mouth.
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