9 PM Current Affairs Brief – October 19th, 2019

Interpol to hold general assembly in India in 2022

News:India will host the 91st Interpol General Assembly in 2022 after its proposal received support of member countries.

Facts:

About Interpol:

  • Interpol is the shorter and better known name of the International Criminal Police Organization.The agency was established in 1923.
  • It is a network comprising 192 member nations including India.It is headquartered at Lyon,France.
  • Interpol aims to help police in all its member countries to work together to make the world a safer place.
  • It enables police forces from different countries to share and access data on crimes and criminals and offers a range of technical and operational support.

Interpol General Assembly:

  • The General Assembly is Interpol’s supreme governing body, and comprises representatives from all its member countries.
  • The General Assembly meets annually for a session to vote on activities and policy.
  • The General Assembly’s decisions take the form of Resolutions.Each member country has one vote.Decisions are made either by a simple or a two-thirds majority depending on the subject matter.

Notices by Interpol:

  • INTERPOL Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.

National Milk Sample Safety Quality Survey

News:Food Safety and Standard Authority of India(FSSAI) has released the National Milk Sample Safety Quality Survey.

Facts:

Key takeaways from the survey:

  • The survey has found that milk samples from Telangana followed by Madhya Pradesh and Kerala has shown the highest number of cases of adulteration.
  • The problem of Aflatoxin-M1 is more dominant in processed milk than that of raw milk. 
  • Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Kerala were the top states where the Aflatoxin-M1 was found maximum.
  • In terms of quality, 7% of the total sample of processed milk did not comply with quality parameters because the presence of contaminants such as fats, Maltodextrin and sugar were above permissible limits. 

Additional information:

About Aflatoxin-M1:

  • Aflatoxins are toxins produced by certain fungi which are generally found in agricultural crops like maize, peanuts, cotton seed and others.They are carcinogenic in nature.
  • It comes in the milk through feed and fodder that are currently not regulated in the country. 
  • There is no proper lab to test this residue in the country.

Testing and sampling Scheme:

  • To address the issue of testing,the government is instituting a scheme for testing and sampling for organised dairy players.It will be implemented from January 1,2020,
  • The scheme stipulates sampling points during various stages of milk processing, test methods and frequency of sampling. 
  • Organised players which include dairy co-operatives and private players, will need to have a well-equipped in house lab for testing and also will need to keep records of all tests conducted.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory autonomous body under Food Safety and Standards Act,2006.It comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.

Exercise DANX-19

News:Andaman and Nicobar Command(ANC) has conducted the second edition of Defence of Andaman & Nicobar Islands 2019(DANX-19).

Facts:

About Exercise DANX:

  • The DANX is a joint services exercise conducted by the ANC (Andaman and Nicobar Command).The exercise was conducted for the first time in 2017.
  • The main objective of the exercise is to practice and validate procedures and drills of all Command forces aimed at defending strategic Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and special forces from newly formed Armed Forces Special Operations Division (AFSOD) participated in this exercise.

Additional information:

About Andaman and Nicobar Command(ANC):

  • Andaman and Nicobar Command was created in 2001. 
  • It is the first and only tri-service command of the Indian Armed Forces based at Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 
  • It was created to safeguard India’s interests in the Strait of Malacca and in Southeast Asia. 
  • The ANC provides logistics and administrative support to Indian ships that are deployed in East Asia and Pacific Ocean.

About Armed forces Special Operations Division(AFSOD):

  • The Armed Forces Special Operations Division(AFSOD) is a tri-services division which is tasked to carry out Special operations. 
  • The division will have commandos from all three services of the Indian Armed Forces and it will function under the Integrated Defence Staff.

Officers Automated Structured Information System(OASIS)

News:The Indian Army has begun to digitize its official records under its new programme called OASIS-Officers Automated Structures Information System.

Facts:

About the programme:

  • The programme aims to digitise the official records of the Indian army officers.
  • Earlier,the records were manually preserved by Manpower Planning Directorate.
  • Oasis will also carry the photographs of the dependents of the army officers.This is essential to prevent frauds where people create fake dependent cards.
  • When the officer retires,the whole data will also be migrated from Oasis to Retired Officers Digital Records Archive (RODRA).RODRA holds the pension details of the officers.

Acute flaccid myelitis(AFM)

News:Recently, the Acute flaccid myelitis(AFM) which is referred to as a ‘polio-like condition’ has been tested negative for the polio virus.

Facts:

About Acute flaccid myelitis(AFM):

  • Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a neurologic disease.It is rare but a serious disease.It affects an area of the spinal cord called gray matter.
  • The exact cause of the disease hasn’t been identified but it is believed that some viruses may be behind it.
  • The symptoms of AFM includes muscle weakness, weak limbs, pain, and absent reflexes.These symptoms look much like those of polio.
  • The most serious complication of AFM is respiratory failure if the muscles involved with breathing becomes weakened.
  • Most cases of Acute flaccid myelitis(AFM) have been in children but it can also develop in adults.
  • While in the US,the incidence rate of AFM is 0.71 per million.But in India it was 120 per million population in 2010.

Additional information:

About Polio:

  • Polio is an acute infectious disease caused by polio virus.The virus is a human enterovirus of the Picornaviridae
  • There are three types of Polio Virus: 1,2,3-Single stranded RNA virus Natural or Wild Polio Virus (WPVS).
  • It is transmitted from one person to another by oral contact with secretions or faecal material from an infected person. 
  • It attacks the central nervous system through the bloodstream and damage the cells and paralyse the victim.
  • India was declared polio free in 2014 and the last case was reported in January 2011.

Italy to levy web tax on digital giants from 2020

News:Italy has approved a new tax on digital companies including U.S. tech giants as part of its 2020 draft budget.

Facts:

Why is digital tax?

  • The digital tax aims to stop multinationals from avoiding taxes by setting up headquarters in low-tax European Union(EU) countries.
  • This means that firms end up paying very little tax in countries such as France or Italy despite having lots of customers there.

About digital tax by Italy:

  • The digital tax which will be starting next year in Italy will oblige global technology firms to pay a 3% levy on internet transactions.
  • The tax would be applied to companies with sales of over 750 million euros of which at least 5.5 million euros come from services provided in Italy.
  • This digital tax is similar to one applied by France which had also levied a 3% tax on these companies.

UN human rights council

News:Venezuela has won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council despite opposition by several countries over its poor human rights record.

Facts:

About UN Human Rights Council:

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was established in 2006.
  • It aims to promote and protect human rights around the globe as well as investigate alleged human rights violations.
  • It consists of 47 member states which are selected by the UN General Assembly on a staggered basis each year for three-year-long terms.
  • To become a member, a country must receive the votes of at least 96 of the 191 states of the UN General Assembly.
  • The members meet around three times a year to debate human rights issues and pass non-binding resolutions and recommendations by majority vote.
  • The council also carries out the Universal Periodic Review of all UN member states which allows civil society groups to bring accusations of human rights violations in member states to the attention of the UN.

Chenani-Nashri Tunnel

News:Government has decided to rename the Chenani-Nashri tunnel after Syama Prasad Mookerjee.

Facts:

About the Chenani-Nashri tunnel:

  • Chenani-Nashri tunnel was inaugurated by Prime Minister in 2017.It is also known as the Patnitop tunnel. 
  • The tunnel is  9.28 km long.It is located between Udhampur and Ramban in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • It is not only India’s longest highway tunnel but also Asia’s longest bi-directional highways tunnel.
  • The tunnel reduces distances between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 km and travel time by 2 hours.
  • The tunnel incorporates India’s first fully integrated mechanism to externally control everything from the movement of vehicles to the inflow and outflow of air and even the evacuation of passengers or vehicles in distress.

Additional information:

Other key tunnels in J&K:

  • Jawahar Tunnel – It is a 2.85 km long tunnel connecting Banihal in Jammu with Qazigund in the Valley was built at an elevation of 2194 m.
  • Nandini Tunnel- It is located beneath the Nandni wildlife sanctuary.It consists of four tunnels of lengths between 210 m and 540 m adding up to a combined length of 1.4 km.

Railway tunnels in J&K:

  • Banihal-Qazigund – It is 11 km tunnel.It is India’s longest and Asia’s 4th longest railway tunnel.The tunnel brings Qazigund and Banihal closer by 17 km.

Explained: Why China’s growth has slowed to a record low

News:According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics,the Chinese economy grew by just 6% in the third quarter of the current calendar year.

Facts:

Why is China slowing down?

  • China’s growth rate has been slowing down since the global financial crisis of 2008-09. 
  • However,China had recovered quickly and got back to double-digit growth in 2010-11 but since then it has been slowing down steadily.

Reasons for growth slowdown:

  • China’s fastest growth phase was during a phase when it was led by exports growth.But in the wake of the global financial crisis, domestic consumption was seen to be a more robust way of sustaining growth.
  • On the domestic consumption side,China’s one-child policy had placed structural constraints and this was one of the reasons why that policy was withdrawn a few years ago.
  • Domestic consumption has also been adversely affected by rising inflation cutting into people’s incomes as well as the outbreak of swine fever. 
  • Further,the demand has been affected by the growth deceleration that has happened as a result of the trade war with the US and the consequent uncertainties.

Impact of China’s slowdown:

  • The slowdown in China which is the world’s second-largest economy after the United States is not just a cause of worry for the Chinese but also for the global economic momentum.
  • The global economy is driven heavily by economic activity in some of the biggest economies like the US, China and the Eurozone countries.

Monetary policy committee sees further slowdown in growth

News: The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has released the minutes of the monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting.

Facts:

  • In its fourth Bi-monthly policy review,the Reserve Bank of India’s(RBI) Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) has reduced the interest rates by 25 basis points to 5.15 % from 5.40 %.

Key takeaways from the MPC meeting:

  • All the six members of the MPC has voted for a rate cut to revive domestic demand citing the room provided by inflation which is within the target of 4%.
  • The members have also decided to continue with an accommodative stance as long as it is necessary to revive growth while ensuring that inflation remains within the target.
  • The members said that the growth in the consumption demand has reduced due to rising unemployment and ongoing stress in the banking system.
  • They also said that the private investment has lost traction due to corporate sector reluctant to make fresh investments.

Additional information:

About Monetary Policy Committee(MPC):

  • The Monetary Policy Committee(MPC) is a committee of the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The MPC is made up of six members with three nominated by the Union government and three representing the RBI.
  • The MPC is mandated by law to ensure that retail inflation stays within a band of two percentage points of the target inflation rate of 4%.
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