9 PM Current Affairs Brief – November 6th, 2019

Explained:How China proposes to treat Alzheimer’s with new drug

News:Recently,China has approved the world’s first multi-targeting and carbohydrate-based drug GV-971 for Alzheimer’s disease.


About Drug GV-971:

  • The drug has been extracted from brown algae and can treat mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer’s disease and improve cognition.
  • It is the world’s first multi targeting drug.The drug can be taken orally by the patients.
  • Multi-target drugs hit several targets in the body which is often necessary to do in order to yield a therapeutic effect in complex diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. 
  • This is different from most drugs which target only a single biological substance, like a protein or enzyme.

Additional information:

About Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that typically affects people older than 65. 
  • The disease destroys brain cells and nerves and disrupts the message carrying neurotransmitters.
  • There is no treatment that cures Alzheimer’s disease or alters the disease process in the brain.Most drugs being developed try to slow down or stop the progression of the disease.

South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme(SACEP)

News:Union Minister of Environment and Forest and Climate Change has attended the 15th meeting of the Governing Council of South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) in Dhaka,Bangladesh.


About SACEP:

  • South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) is an intergovernmental organization.It is headquartered in Colombo,SriLanka.
  • It was established in 1982 by the governments of South Asia to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environment in the region.
  • The members of SACEP includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • SACEP also acts as the Secretariat for the South Asian Seas Programme which comes under the purview of UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme.

Objectives of SACEP:

  • Recognition of environmental degradation caused by factors like poverty, overpopulation, over consumption and wasteful production threatening economic development and human survival,
  • Integration of environment and development as essential prerequisites to Sustainable Development, and
  • Importance of co-operative action in the South Asian region where many ecological and development problems transcend national and administrative boundaries.

Additional information:

About South Asian Seas Programme(SASP):

  • The South Asian Seas Programme(SASP) is a regional agreement which was formally adopted in 1995 among the five maritime countries of South Asia sharing the Indian Ocean. 
  • The five maritime countries are Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • It aims to protect and manage the marine environment and related coastal ecosystems of the region in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.
  • SASP is part of the global Regional Seas Programme established under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme(UNEP).

Explained:Iran’s nuclear programme

News:Iran has announced that it would inject uranium gas into centrifuges that had previously been kept empty under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.


About Iran Nuclear Deal:

  • Iran Nuclear deal is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • The deal was signed in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 group (US,UK, France, Russia, China and Germany).
  • The deal restricts Iran’s nuclear programme,in return for lifting most economic sanctions against it.

Key Provisions of the deal:

  • Iran had agreed to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98% and limit uranium enrichment to 3.67% which means it will have enough enriched uranium to maintain the country’s energy needs without having the ability to build a nuclear bomb.
  • Limits on number of nuclear centrifuges(centrifuge is a device used to enrich uranium) 
  • Restrictions on plutonium enrichment
  • Stopping Iran from operating at Arak nuclear site which was used to make plutonium 
  • Allowing International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) for inspections.
  • The deal has also increased the breakout time to 1 year.Breakout time is the time it would take Iran to produce enough bomb-grade material for a single nuclear weapon.

Why has Iran breached the nuclear deal?

  • Iran had stopped complying with some commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal after the United States had unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and renewed sanctions on Iran.
  • The US had also stepped up its pressure on Iran by ending exemptions from secondary sanctions for countries such as India from buying Iranian oil.This move crippled the Iranian government’s principal source of revenue.

Gujarat anti-terror law gets President assent

News:President has given his assent to the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill,2015.


Key Provisions of the bill:

  • The act defines a ‘terrorist act’ as an act committed with the intention to disturb law and order or threaten the unity, integrity, and security of the state.
  • The Act empowers law enforcing authorities to intercept phone calls, recording of which would be admissible in court as evidence. 
  • Section 16 of the bill stipulates a confession made by a person before a police officer not below the rank of superintendent of police (SP) shall be admissible in court.
  • Section 25 provides immunity to the government and police officers for initiating action under the law.
  • The law puts the onus of proving the innocence of the accused on the accused and has provision for maximum punishment of death penalty and fine of Rs 10 lakh. 
  • The bill extends period of probe from stipulated 90 days to 180 days before filing of charge sheet.
  • The bill also provides for the creation of a special court as well as the appointment of special public prosecutors.

Speed up delivery of S-400 missiles,India to tell Russia

News:India wants Russia to speed up the delivery schedule of the advanced S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems.


About S-400:

  • India had signed a $5 billion deal with Russia for the purchase of five S-400 systems during the 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit in 2018.
  • S-400 Triumf Missile System is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM).
  • It can detect, track and destroy hostile strategic bombers, jets spy planes, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km.
  • It can engage all types of aerial targets such as aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles(UAV).
  • It can track 100 airborne targets including super fighters such as the American built F-35 and engage six of them simultaneously.

US on S-400 Deal

  • Earlier,the United States had threatened India that it might exercise sanctions on India under Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act(CAATSA) act for trading with Russia.

Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act(CAATSA):

  • The Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
  • It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

Additional information:

About Akula-class submarine:

  • India had also signed a $ 3.3 billion deal with Russia in 2019 to take third Akula-class nuclear-powered submarine on lease for 10 years.The submarine will be called Chakra-3 and will be delivered by 2025.
  • The first Russian nuclear-powered submarine called INS Chakra was taken by India in 1988 under a three year lease.A second INS Chakra was taken on lease in 2012 for a period of 10 years.
  • Akula-class nuclear powered Submarine(SSNs) are a part of the Indian navy’s combat fleet.They are propelled by a nuclear reactor but do not carry nuclear weapons. 
  • These vessels can remain underwater for months making them almost impossible to detect and are a big deterrence for enemy vessels in the region. 
  • Their weapons load consists of land attack and anti-ship missiles and torpedoes to sink enemy shipping.

‘Indian Tech Startup Ecosystem – Leading Tech in the 20s’

News:According to the report ‘Indian Tech Startup Ecosystem – Leading Tech in the 20s’ by Nasscom,India continues to be the third largest startup ecosystem across the world.


Key takeaways from the report:

  • India continues to be the third largest startup ecosystem in the world, having added more than 1,300 tech startups in 2019.
  • India now hosts 24 unicorns which is the third-highest number of unicorns in a single country in the world.Unicorn is a term to describe to startups valued at $1 billion.
  • The report has also predicted that the number of Indian unicorns could increase to 95-105 by 2025.
  • The volume of investments in startups has also grown touching $4.4 billion by January-September,2019 across 450 startups up 5% from the year-ago period.
  • Startups have also created 60,000 direct jobs in 2019 alone compared with 40,000 jobs in 2018.

Additional information:


  • The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) was established in 1988.
  • It is a non-profit organisation of Indian Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship launches Skills Build platform in Collaboration with IBM

News:The Directorate General of Training (DGT) under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship(MSDE) has announced the launch of Skills Build platform in collaboration with IBM.


About the platform:

  • The skill builds platform aims to offer diplomas in IT, networking and cloud computing at Industrial Training Institutes(ITI) and National Skill Training Institutes(NSTI). 
  • The platform will also be extended to train ITI and NSTI faculty on AI skills for future work.
  • This initiative is part of IBM’s global commitment to create a job-ready workforce and to build the next generation of skills needed for new collar careers.
  • The platform is deployed with the support of IBM Volunteers along with the NGOs who will offer students personalised coaching and experiential learning opportunities. 

Additional information:

About NSTI:

  • National Skill Training Institute(NSTI) is one of the premier institutes run by the Directorate General of Training (DGT),Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship,Govt.of India.
  • It was initially set up by the Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGE&T), Ministry of Employment and Labour, Govt. of India in the year 1963.
  • The main objective of NSTI is to impart training to the instructors of ITIs in the country.It also aims to impact Quality training & upgrading skills of the industrial workforce in emerging areas.

Trump administration notifies UN of planned Paris climate accord exit

News: The US has begun the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, notifying the UN of its intention to leave. The notification begins a one-year process of exiting the global climate change accord.


About Paris Climate Change Agreement

  • The Paris Agreement was adopted at the UNFCC COP21 held in Paris in 2015. 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 187 have become party to it
  • Aim: It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and specifies long-term goals regarding global average temperatures, adaptation to climate change and finance flows
  • Goals:
    • Temperaturehold warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with effective efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C
    • AdaptationIncreasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development
    • Low Emission Finance flows: Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
  • Approach: Intended Nationally Determined Targets: The Paris Agreement gives flexibility to both developed and developing countries to determine their own targets. The INDCs set out each country’s plan for addressing climate change, including a target for reducing GHG emissions, and how the countries intend to achieve that target.
  • Paris Agreement Rulebook: In 2018, at COP24, Katowice, parties to the agreement agreed on Paris agreement rulebook to implement the Agreement. The rulebook includes details on several fronts:
    • How the emissions from every country should be measured
    • How these measurements should be reported and verified
    • Kinds of financial flows – loans, concessions, grants-that can be classified as climate finance,
    • The manner in which financial flows should be accounted
    • the information that every country needs to provide regarding their climate actions
    • The mechanisms for diffusion of appropriate technologies to developing countries
    • How collective efforts will be reviewed, leading to scaled-up actions and support every five years (Global Stocktake)

Why US wants to leave Paris Climate Change Agreement?

  • According USA, the agreement had imposed an “unfair economic burden” on the country. The agreement would cost the US $3tn in lost economic output and 6.5 million jobs b
  • USA is of the opinion that the Paris Agreement gives China and other big polluters an unfair advantage over the US by allowing them to continue to increase emissions.

Economic slowdown will lighten India’s carbon burden: Study

News: According to an analysis published in Carbon Brief, carbon dioxide emissions in India are poised to grow at their slowest since 2001. There would only be a 2% rise from 2018.


Factors contributing to slow rise in CO2 emissions:

  • Slower growth in coal-based power generation: This is mainly due to fall in Industrial coal use because of a slowdown in the construction sector as a response to the economic slowdown.
  • Rise in renewables: Wind generation rose by 17% in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier, with solar up 30% and hydro increasing by 22%

Additional Information:

India’s Carbon footprint:

  • According to a report by the International Energy Emissions Agency, India’s per capita emissions were about 40% of the global average and contributed 7% to the global carbon dioxide burden. The U.S. is the largest emitter contributing 14% to global CO2 burden.

India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to Paris Climate Change Agreement:

  • reduce the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of its GDP by 33% to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level,
  • increase total cumulative electricity generation from fossil free energy sources to 40% by 2030,
  • create additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover

National Health Profile 2019

News: The 14th National Health Profile (NHP) 2019 has been released on 3oth October 2019.


About National Health Profile (NHP)

  • It is an annual publication released by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI). The first NHP was released in 2005.
  • It covers all the major information on Demography, Socio-Economic Status, Disease Morbidity & Mortality, Healthcare Finance, Human Resources in Health and Healthcare Infrastructure.

Key takeaways from NHP 2019

  • Life Expectancy: According to the report, life expectancy in India increased from 49.7 years in 1970-75 to 68.7 years in 2012-16. For the same period, the life expectancy for females is 70.2 years and 67.4 years for males.
  • Maternal, Neonatal, Nutritional Diseases and Other Communicable Diseases:
    • The disease burden due to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases, as measured using disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)), dropped from 61% to 33% between 1990 and 2016.
    • However, there is an accelerated rise in the prevalence of chronic non-communicable (NCD) diseases.
    • The disease burden due to non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancers, mental health disorders and injuries increased from 30% to 55% between 1990 and 2016.
    • Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) accounted for 69.47% of morbidity which was the highest in the communicable disease category leading to 27.21% mortality.
    • Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal reported a large number of patients and fatalities due to ARI.
  • Infant And Maternal Mortality Rate:
    • Infant Mortality Rate in India which was at 74 (per 1000 live births) in 1994 has declined considerably to 33 (Per 1000 live births) in 2017.
    • Maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has reduced by 77% from 556 per 1 Lakh live births in 1990 to 130 per 1 Lakh live births in 2016
  • Anaemia continues to remain a huge health concern: According to the report, over half the children between 6 and 59 months (58.4%) and women in the age group 15-49 are anaemic.
  • Doctor to Patient Ratio: There is only one allopathic government doctor for every 10,926 people in India against the WHO’s recommended doctor-population ratio of 1:1000.
  • Healthcare Spending: India’s public spending on healthcare continues to remain the lowest globally. As per the report, India’s public expenditure on health now stands at 1.28 per cent of the GDP.

Additional Information:

Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI):

  • It was established in 1961 by the Act of Parliament on the recommendation of Mudaliar committee.
  • It is the Health Intelligence Wing under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • Key Objectives:
    • To collect, analyse & disseminate Health Sector related data of India for evidence based policy decisions, planning and research activities.
    • To identify & disseminate innovative practices for Health Sector Reforms.
    • To function as collaborating centre (CC) for WHO Family of International Classifications (WHO-FIC) in India & SEAR countries.
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