9 PM Current Affairs Brief – October 12th, 2019

C40 World Mayors Summit

News: C40 World Mayors Summit is being held at Copenhagen, Denmark

Facts:

Key Takeaways:

C40 Good Food Cities Declaration

  • It was signed by the mayors of Barcelona, Copenhagen, Guadalajara, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Oslo, Paris, Quezon City, Seoul, Stockholm, Tokyo and Toronto.
  • As part of the declaration, mayors of these cities will work towards implementing a ‘planetary health diet’ for all by 2030. It will be balanced and nutritious food, based on the culture, geography, and demography of the cities.
  • They will also change the food procurement policies to make healthy, delicious and low-carbon food affordable and accessible for all and also reduce food loss and waste by 50%.

Clean Air Cities Declaration

  • It was signed by Mayors of 35 cities. Delhi is one of the signatory.
  • They will implement radical clean air policies by 2025. Steps will include: like low- or zero-carbon public transport, zero-emissions zones, promoting cleaner fuels and air quality monitoring.

Additional Information:

C40

  • C40 is a network of the world’s megacities taking action to address climate change.
  • It is a group of 94 cities around the world that represents one-twelfth of the world’s population and one-quarter of the global economy.
  • The summit was launched in London in 2005 when the then London Mayor convened representatives from 18 megacities.
  • C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.
  • The aim of the summit is also to show how cities are delivering their strong commitments for healthier, sustainable, resilient and inclusive future.

Right to Information Act

News: Report Card on the Performance of Information Commissions in India has been released

Facts:

About the Study

  • The ‘Report Card on the Performance of Information Commissions in India’ was prepared by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies.
  • It analysed information from 22 commissions, which disposed of almost 1.17 lakh cases in that time period.

Highlights of the Study

  • State and Central Information Commissions, which are the courts of appeal under the RTI Act, failed to impose penalties in about 97% of the cases where violations took place in 2018-19.
  • The State Commissions of Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura did not impose penalties in any cases at all.
  • Apart from fines, the commissions also have the power to recommend disciplinary action against officials for persistent violations of the RTI Act. Only 10 states invoked these powers.
  • The commissions have an increasing workload, which is leading to a huge pendency of cases. There were 2.18 lakh cases pending with the commissions in March 2019, in comparison with 1.85 lakh pending cases a year earlier.

Additional Information

Right to Information Act, 2005:

  • RTI Act provides for timely disclosure of information by citizens from both central and State Public Authorities. It seeks to empower citizens and promote accountability and transparency.
  • Under the Act, Public Authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects of their structure and functioning.  This includes
    • disclosure on their organisation
    • functions and structure
    • powers and duties of its officers and employees and
    • Financial information.

Central Information Commission:

  • It is a statutory body established under RTI Act, 2005. It is constituted by central government.
  • It consists of the Central Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information commissioners.
  • The President of India appoints the Chief Information commissioner and the information commissioners on the recommendation of the committee consisting of the Prime Minister as chairperson, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and one union cabinet ministers nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • The Chief Information commissioner (CIC) and an information commissioner holds office for five years or until they attain the age of 65 years. CIC is not eligible for reappointment. CIC submits its report to parliament.

State Information Commission

  • It is a statutory body established under RTI Act, 2005. It is constituted by state government.
  • It consists of the Central Information Commissioner and not more than ten Information commissioners.
  • The Governor of State appoints the State Information commissioner and the information commissioners on the recommendation of the committee consisting of the Chief Minister as chairperson, the leader of the opposition in the state Legislative Assembly and one state cabinet ministers nominated by the Prime Minister.

Nobel Peace Prize

News: The prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, has won the 2019 Nobel peace prize. He was recognised for starting peace talks with Eritrea and establishing a peace agreement to end the long stalemate between the two countries. He has also brought reforms in Ethiopia.

Facts:

About Nobel Peace Prize

  • The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes.
  • Since 1901, it has been awarded annually (with some exceptions) to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”
  • The recipient is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five-member committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway.
  • Recipient of the first Nobel Peace prize were Frenchman Frédéric Passy and the Swiss Jean Henry Dunant.
  • Indians who received Nobel Peace Prize: Mother Teresa (1979) and Kailash Satyarthi (2014).

Additional Information

Nobel Prize

  • The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances.
  • The will of the Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist Alfred Nobel established the Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, peace and literature in 1895.
  • The award for Economics was created by Sweden’s Central Bank in 1968. It is officially known as Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

News: While speaking at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the launch of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

Facts:

About Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

  • It is an international knowledge and capacity development platform where countries can collaborate to make their existing and new infrastructure strong enough to withstand natural disasters.
  • Aim: To rapidly expand the development of resilient infrastructure and retrofit existing infrastructure for resilience, and to enable a measurable reduction in infrastructure losses. Also seeks to act as an intersection of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Objectives:
    • identify and promote best practices,
    • provide access to capacity building,
    • Work towards standardisation of designs, processes and regulations relating to infrastructure creation and management.
    • Identify and estimate the risks to, and from, large infrastructure in the event of different kinds of disasters in member countries.
  • CDRI secretariat will be set up in New Delhi, India. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is operating as the interim secretariat of CDRI as of now.

Additional information:

The Sendai Framework

  • It is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement on disaster risk reduction.
  • It was adopted in 2015 at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
  • It is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.

The Paris agreement (2015)

  • It is an international agreement with the framework of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • It seeks to combat climate change and accelerate the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.
  • The Paris agreement aims to:
    • keep global temperature rise in 21st century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and
    • pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius

Kayakalp awards

News:Union Health and Family Welfare Minister has presented the kayakalp Awards.

Facts:

  • Under A category,the first prize of Rs 3 crore was given to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS),Delhi.
  • In the group B category, the winner was Shri Vinoba Bhave Civil Hospital (VBCH),Silvassa winning ₹2 crore.

About Kayakalp Awards:

  • The Kayakalp Award was  instituted as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2015.

Objective of the award:

  • To promote cleanliness, hygiene and infection control practices in public health care facilities
  • To incentivize and recognize such public healthcare facilities that show exemplary performance in adhering to standard protocols of cleanliness and infection control
  • To inculcate a culture of ongoing assessment and peer review of performance related to hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation
  • To create and share sustainable practices related to improved cleanliness in public health facilities linked to positive health outcomes.

Parameters:

  • The awards would be distributed based on the performance of the facility on these parameters (a)sanitation and hygiene (b)infection control, (c)hospital upkeep (d)waste management and (e)community participation 
  • The assessment of these parameters would be done sequentially through a three tier system – internal assessment followed by peer assessment and then external assessment.

Kanyashree scheme

News:West Bengal government has decided to set up Kanyashree University in Nadia district and Kanyashree colleges across the state so as to empower girls. 

Facts:

About Kanyashree scheme:

  • The Kanyashree scheme was started by the West Bengal government to empower girls in 2013. 
  • In 2017,the Kanyashree scheme won the United Nations for Public Service award for its Kanyashree scheme.

Objectives:

  • To ensure that girls study in schools and delay their marriages until they attain 18 years of age. 
  • To empower girls from school to university level so that they can become independent women. 
  • To improve the status and well-being of girls, particularly those from socio- economically disadvantaged families through conditional cash transfers.

Components of the scheme:The scheme has two cash transfer components

  • An annual incentive of Rs 750 is given to girls in the age group 13 to 18 years old and studying in Class 8 for every year till they continue their education–provided they are unmarried at the time.
  • One-time grant of Rs 25,000 is also given to girls once they attain the age of 18 years, provided they are engaged in an academic or occupational pursuit and unmarried.

Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN

News:Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN-219 between India and Japan will be conducted at Vairengte,Mizoram.

Facts:

About the exercise:

  • Exercise DHARMA GUARDIAN is an annual joint military exercise between Indian and Japan since 2018.
  • The exercise aims to share experience gained during various Counter Terrorism Operations in respective Countries.
  • The exercise also covers platoon level joint training on counter terrorism operations in jungle and urban scenario.
  • The exercise with Japan is crucial and significant in terms of security challenges faced by both the nations in the backdrop of global terrorism. 

Additional information:

Other exercises between India and Japan:

  • JIMEX- It is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Japan.
  • Exercise Malabar– It is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners.
  • Sahayog-Kaijin – It is a joint bilateral exercise between Indian Coast Guard and the Japan Coast Guard.

Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan (SUMAN) scheme

News:Union Minister for Health along with several State Health Ministers launched Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan (SUMAN) initiative for Zero Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths.

Facts:

About SUMAN:

  • The scheme aims to provide dignified and quality health care at no cost to every woman and newborn visiting a public health facility in order to bring down maternal and infant mortality rates in the country,
  • Under the scheme, pregnant women, mothers up to 6 months after delivery and all sick newborns will be able to avail free healthcare benefits such as four antenatal check-ups and six home-based newborn care visits.
  • The scheme will enable zero expense access to the identification and management of complications during and after the pregnancy.
  • The government will also provide free transport from home to health institutions.
  • The pregnant women will also have a zero expense delivery and C-section facility in case of complications at public health facilities.

Additional information:

Maternal mortality rate:

  • Maternal mortality refers to the number of maternal deaths which occur due to pregnancy or as a result of a complication of the same. 
  • Maternal mortality rate(MMR) is taken as the number of recorded maternal deaths, for every 1 lakh live births.
  • According to the government,India’s maternal mortality rate has declined from 254 per 1,00,000 live births in 2004-06 to 130 in 2014-16. 

Infant mortality rate:

  • Infant mortality rate(IMR) is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age.
  • Between 2001 and 2016, the infant mortality rate has also come down from 66 per 1,000 live births to 34.

Special and differential(S&D) treatment

News:India China and several African nations has cautioned against diluting special and differential treatment provisions related to developing countries, as it would lead to deadlock at the WTO.

Facts:

About Special and differential treatment:

  • The WTO Agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights and which give developed countries the possibility to treat developing countries more favourably than other WTO Members.
  • These provisions are referred to as “special and differential treatment” (S&D) provisions.

The special provisions include:

  • longer time periods for implementing Agreements and commitments,
  • measures to increase trading opportunities for developing countries,
  • provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries,
  • support to help developing countries build the capacity to carry out WTO work, handle disputes, and implement technical standards, and
  • provisions related to least-developed country (LDC) Members.

Issues with S&D provisions:

  • Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail these benefits.
  • In the case of least developed countries, the status is given as per the per capita income status of the UN.
  • However,the US has opposed self-selection of the developing country status and demanded stopping of developing country concessions to several of these countries, including China and India.
  • But India and the others have maintained that there was a need to ensure that S&D treatment remains as they are still home to a large number of poor and vulnerable sections.

Pangio bhujia

News:Researchers from Kerala have discovered a new species of eel-loach named ‘Pangio bhujia’ in Kozhikode district of state.

Facts:

About Pangio Bhujia:

  • The species has been named ‘Pangio bhujia’ due to its resemblance to the North Indian snack, bhujia.It belongs to genus Pangio.
  • Pangio Bhujia is a unique species of miniature well-dwelling subterranean fish. 
  • It is the first species of eel-loach in the world that has been discovered to be living in subterranean environments. 
  • Eel-loaches are generally found in fast-flowing streams in the south and the south-east Asia.

Characteristics:

  • It is approximately 3 centimetres long and pinkish-red in colour.It resides in purest waters of deep subterranean aquifers. 
  • It has several unique characters including absence of dorsal fin which has never been encountered in genus Pangio to which this new species belongs. 

National Coordination Center

News:Government of India is planning to set up a National Coordination Center (NCC) that will function as a data bank of Maoists.

Facts:

About NCC:

  • The National Coordination Center (NCC) will act as a synergy point for anti – Maoist operations and intelligence gathering.
  • It will create a strategy for security agencies to counter support received by the Maoist leaders. 
  • It will also control the sympathy gained or created by the Maoists in the social media.
  • It will utilize knowledge of retired police officers who served in anti – Maoist operations in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh. 
  • The coordination center will also identify the sources of finance to the Maoists and work to neutralize the network.

Additional information:

About Maoism:

  • Maoism originated in China as a form of Communist theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong. 
  • It was widely applied as the political and military guiding ideology of the Communist Party of China till 1977-78. 
  • It emphasised the advancement of people’s social and economic life by establishing a classless society through armed revolution.

About Naxals:

  • Naxalism originated as a rebellion against lack of development and poverty at the local level in the rural parts of eastern India. 
  • The term ‘Naxal’ derives its name from a village called Naxalbari in the State of West Bengal where the movement had its origin under the leadership of Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal.
  • The Naxals are considered far left radical communists who support Maoist political ideology.
  • Their origin can be traced to the split that took place in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1967. It led to the formation of Communist Party of India (Marxist and Leninist). 
  • Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal.Thereafter, it spread into Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

Draft Arms (Amendment) Bill

News:Union Home Ministry has released a Draft Arms(Amendment) Bill.It amend the Arms Act,1959.

Facts:

Features of the bill:

  • The bill proposes an amendment to convict makers and users of illegal arms.It says that the makers of prohibited arms and those carrying such arms have to spend the remainder of their life in prison if convicted.
  • The bill also says that anyone possessing more than 2 licensed gun has to deposit the third one with the authorities.
  • The amendment also categorizes illegal import of guns and their sales as illicit trade. 
  • A sports person can possess a third weapon of 0.22 calibre rifle only if the user is a dedicated sports person whose participation is recognized in national and international events in the last 2 years.

Additional information:

About Arms act,1959:

  • The act was legislated to consolidate and amend the laws related to arms and ammunition.It replaced the Arms Act 1878. 
  • The act has undergone many changes since 1959. The most recent change in the act was done in 2010 through an amendment for the arms act. 
  • The act briefs rules and regulations about acquisition, manufacture, possession, sale, import and export ammunition in India.It also provides provisions related to licenses. 
  • The act lists the punishments associated with breaking rules related to the act.It also provides details on powers that the officials possess to enact it.

Global Fund raises $13.92 billion to fight AIDS, TB, malaria

News:French President has said that the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria(GFATM) has raised at least USD 13.92 billion for the next three years.

Facts:

About GFATM:

  • The Global Fund to fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria(GFATM) is an international financial organization.
  • It aims to attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
  • It is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.
  • It was formed in 2002.It is headquartered in Geneva,Switzerland.
  • The organisation mobilizes and invests more than US$4 billion a year to support programmes run by local experts in more than 100 countries.

India and GFATM:

  • India shares a sustained partnership with the Global Fund since 2002 both as recipient and as a donor.
  • In the current funding cycle (2018-21), the Global Fund has allocated US$ 500 million to India.
  • As a donor,India has contributed US$ 46.5 million so far till 2019 including US$ 20 million for the 5th Replenishment.

India rejects RCEP e-commerce chapter

News:India has rejected the e-commerce chapter of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

Facts:

What did the e-commerce chapter contains?

  • The e-commerce chapter contains clauses which if India had agreed to them,would have prevented India from implementing data localisation rules on companies doing business in India.
  • Instead, India has proposed that participating country can locate the computing facilities inside the country if it is meant to protect its essential security interests and national interests.
  • However,India’s alternate proposal has been opposed by the 14 members of the 16-country RCEP countries.

What has India agreed to?

  • India is learnt to have agreed to financial transfer chapter in the agreement.
  • The chapter says that the financial services companies will be allowed to move and store data of Indians abroad. 
  • This proposal is crucial as the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) in its April 2018 notification mandated all system providers shall ensure that the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them are stored in a system only in India.

Additional information:

Data localisation:

  • Data localisation is the act of storing data on any device physically present within the borders of a country.
  • Localisation mandates that companies collecting critical data about consumers must store and process them within the borders of the country.
  • The main intent behind data localisation is to protect the personal and financial information of the country’s citizens and residents from foreign surveillance and give local governments and regulators the jurisdiction to call for the data when required.
  • The data localisation is also essential to national security.Storing of data locally is expected to help law-enforcement agencies to access information that is needed for the detection of a crime or to gather evidence.
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