9 PM Current Affairs Brief – March 13, 2020

Animal Protection Index: India ranks second

News: World Animal Protection, an international animal welfare charity has released Global animal protection index 2020

Facts: About Global Animal Protection Index

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  • It aims to showcase where countries are doing well, and where they fall short on animal welfare policy and legislation.
  • The index ranks countries from A (being the highest score) to G (being the weakest score) according to their policy and legislation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Austria are rated with the highest scores
  • India has attained a C ranking in the index, along with countries like New Zealand, Mexico, France, and Spain.

ARI Scientists Study methane-oxidizing bacteria for methane mitigation and value addition

News:Scientists at Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, have isolated 45 different strains of methanotrophic bacteria.

Facts: About Methanotrophs

  • They metabolise and convert methane into carbon-di-oxide. 
  • They can effectively reduce the emission of methane (the second most important greenhouse gas (GHG)).  
  • In rice fields, methanotrophs are active near the roots or soil-water interfaces.

Additional Information:

  • Rice fields are human-made wetlands and are waterlogged for a considerable period. 
  • Anaerobic degradation of organic matter results in the generation of methane. Rice fields contribute to nearly 10% of global methane emissions

Silk Samagra Scheme

News:The Minister of Textiles has informed Rajya Sabha about the implementation of Silk Samagra Scheme for Development of Sericulture.

Facts: About the scheme:

    • It is a Central Sector Scheme launched for a period of three years i.e 2017-2020.
    • Aim:To scale up production of Silk by improving the quality and productivity and to empower downtrodden, poor & backward families through various activities of sericulture in the country.
    • Implementation:It is being implemented by the Central Silk Board (CSB).
    • Components: a) Research & Development, Training and Transfer of Technology b) Seed Organizations c) Coordination and Market Development and d) Quality Certification Systems (QCS)/Export Promotion and Technology Up-gradation.

Additional information: About Sericulture:

  • Sericulture is the cultivation of silk through rearing of silkworm.It is an agro-based industry.
  • India has the unique distinction of producing all these commercial varieties of silk such as Mulberry, Oak Tasar & Tropical Tasar, Muga and Eri.

Central Silk Board:

  • The Central Silk Board is a statutory body established in 1948 by an Act of Parliament.
  • It functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Crime Multi Agency Centre and National Cybercrime Training Centre

News:Union Minister for Home affairs has launched the Crime Multi Agency Centre(Cri-MAC) and National Cybercrime Training Centre(NCTC).


About NCTC:

  • The National Cybercrime Training Centre (NCTC) is meant for professional quality eLearning services on cyber crime investigation on large scale to police officers, judges, prosecutors and other stakeholders. 

About Cri-MAC:

  • Crime Multi Agency Centre(Cri-MAC) aims to share information between various police forces on heinous crimes and other issues related to inter-state coordination.

Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX-2020)

News:Recently,the Indian Coast Guard(ICG) has conducted the National level Search and Rescue Exercise(SAREX-2020) in Goa.

Facts: About the exercise:

    • The exercise has been conducted biennially since 2003 by Indian Coast Guard under the aegis of National Maritime Search and Rescue Board(NMSARB).
    • Aim:To test the efficiency of operations and coordination of the stakeholders involved in Search and Rescue in the Indian Ocean Region.
    • Theme: Harmonization of Maritime and Aeronautical Search and Rescue named ‘HAMSAR’.
    • Further,the exercise witnessed the participation of around 24 overseas observers from 19 countries.

Additional information: About NMSARB:

  • National Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSARB) was constituted by the union government in 2002 with the Director General of Indian Coast Guard(ICG) as its Chairman.
  • The board coordinates the National Search and Rescue Plan in accordance with the provisions of International Conventions.

Role of Lieutenant Governor and elected government intertwined, rules Madras High Court

News:The Madras High Court has set aside its earlier order and held that the role of Puducherry’s Lieutenant Governor(L-G) and elected government in the UT were intertwined as per law and they were expected to act in unison and not in division.

Facts: About the Union Territory of Puducherry:

  • Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 provides for a Legislative Assembly of Pondicherry with a Council of Ministers to govern the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
  • It states that the UT will be administered by the President of India through an Administrator (Lieutenant Governor).

Powers and sources of LG of Puducherry:


  • Section 44 of the Union Territories Act,1963 allows the LG to act in his discretion in the matter of lawmaking even though the Council of Ministers has the task of aiding and advising him. 
  • In case of a difference of opinion between the LG and his Ministers on any matter, the Administrator is bound to refer it to the President for a decision and act according to the decision given by the President. 
  • However, the Administrator can also claim that the matter is urgent, and take immediate action as he deems necessary.

Mandatory Prior sanction:

  • Section 22 of the Act provides for prior sanction of the Administrator for certain legislative proposals. 
  • These include Bills or amendments that the Council of Ministers intends to move in the Legislative Assembly and which deals with the Judicial Commissioner with respect to any of the matters in the State List or the Concurrent List.

Obligatory provisions

  • Section 23 of the Act also makes it obligatory on the part of the UT government to seek the recommendation of the LG before moving a Bill or an amendment to provide for the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax or the amendment of the law with respect to any financial obligations undertaken or anything that has to do with the Consolidated Fund of the UT.

Veto powers:

  • Once the Assembly has passed a Bill, the LG can either grant or withhold his assent; or reserve it for the consideration of the President. He can also send it back to the Assembly for reconsideration.

A new era for girls report:Taking stock of 25 years of progress

News:Recently, UNICEF along with Plan International and United Nations Women has released a report titled “A New era for girls: Taking stock on 25 years of progress”.

Facts: About the report:

  • The report is issued in the context of the Generation Equality campaign and to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Key takeaways from the report:

  • The number of out-of-school girls worldwide dropped by 79 million between 1998 and 2018.
  • The number of female youth aged 15-24 years who are illiterate declined from 100 million to 56 million between 1995 and 2018, but 1 in 10 female youth remain illiterate today.
  • Since 1995,the proportion of young women who were married as children has declined globally from 1 in 4 to approximately 1 in 5.
  • However,still one in every 20 girls aged 15-19 which is around 13 million has experienced rape in a lifetime.
  • Over the past 25 years, the adolescent birth rate has declined from 60 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years to 44 births worldwide.

Additional information: About UNICEF:

  • UNICEF acronym of United Nations Children’s Fund was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946.It is headquartered in New York, USA.
  • It is a special program of the United Nations (UN) devoted to aiding national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
  • It publishes the State of the World’s Children report every year.

About UN Women:

UN Women is the United Nations entity established in 2010.It is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

About Generation Equality Forum:

  • Generation Equality Forum is a civil society–centred, multi-stakeholder, global gathering for gender equality convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France.
  • The Forum will kick off in Mexico City in May 2020 and culminate in France in July 2020.
  • It will celebrate the power of women’s rights and take stock of progress and set an agenda of concrete action to realize gender equality before 2030.

Centre forms committee for implementation of Kisan Rail scheme

News:The Central Government has formed a committee to work out the modalities of Kisan Rail.

Facts: About the Committee:

  • The Committee has been formed with representatives from Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Railways. 
  • It will explore into the options of creating a cold supply chain for perishable goods.

About Kisan Rail Scheme:

  • The Kisan Rail was proposed by the Union Finance Minister during the Union Budget 2020-21. 
  • Under the scheme, the centre envisages setting up of a national cold supply chain to transport highly perishable goods including milk, fish and meat. 
  • It will be set up through a public-private-partnership(PPP) arrangement.

Senna spectabilis

News:The Kerala Government is planning to stop the rampant growth of Senna spectabilis in the forest areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve(NBR).

Facts: About Senna Spectabilis:

  • Senna spectabilis is a plant species of the legume family (Fabaceae) native to South and Central America.
  • The plant has become an invasive alien species in parts of Africa, India and other countries.
  • The thick foliage of the tree arrests the growth of other indigenous tree and grass species.Hence,it causes food shortage for the wildlife population especially herbivores.
  • It also adversely affects the germination and growth of the native species.
  • It is categorised as ‘Least Concern’ under IUCN Red List.

Additional information: About Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve:

  • The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India. 
  • It is a part of the Western Ghats which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
  • The Biosphere reserve includes a) Bandipur National Park b) Nagarahole National Park c) Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary d) Mukurthi National Park e) Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary f) Silent Valley National Park and g) Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Tribal groups like the Todas, Kotas, Irullas, Kurumbas, Paniyas, Adiyans, Edanadan Chettis, Cholanaickens, Allar among others are native to the reserve.

ARI developes ARI-516- a hybrid variety of grapes

News:Recently, Scientists from Pune based Agharkar Research Institute(ARI) have developed a hybrid variety of grapes called ARI-516.

Facts: About ARI-516:

  • ARI-516 is a high yielding variety of grapes which is resistant to fungal diseases and has excellent juice quality.
  • It has been developed by interbreeding of two species from the same genus – Catawba variety of Vitis labrusca and Beauty seedless variety of Vitis vinifera.
  • Its fungal resistance has been derived from Catawba which is an American grape variety.

Additional information: About Grape Production in India:

  • India is the world’s 12th largest producer of grapes.Maharashtra accounts for nearly 81% of grapes produced in the country.


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