9 PM Current Affairs Brief – October 25th, 2019

2 out of 3 wild poliovirus strains have been eradicated, says WHO

News:On the World Polio Day,independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication(GCC) has declared that wild poliovirus type 3(WPV3) has been eradicated worldwide.

Facts:

About Polio:

  • Polio is an acute infectious disease caused by polio virus.The virus is a human enterovirus of the Picornaviridae.
  • 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.
  • Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age.There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. 
  • The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops.
  • India was declared polio free in 2014 and the last case was reported in January 2011.

Types of Polio virus:

  • There are three individual and immunologically distinct wild poliovirus strains namely (a)wild poliovirus type 1(WPV1) (b)wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) and (c)wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3).
  • Symptomatically,all three strains are identical, in that they cause irreversible paralysis or even death. 
  • But there are genetic and virological differences, which make these three strains three separate viruses that must each be eradicated individually.
  • The WPV2 and WPV3 have been eradicated globally but WPV1 remains in circulation in just two countries namely Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Additional information:

About World Polio Day:

  • World Polio Day was established by Rotary International on 24th October to celebrate the birth of Jonas Salk who had developed a vaccine against Polio.

Quantum Supremacy

News:Google has announced that it has achieved a breakthrough called quantum supremacy in computing.

Facts:

About Quantum Supremacy:

  • The phrase quantum supremacy was coined in 2011 by John Preskill, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology.
  • Quantum supremacy refers to quantum computers being able to solve a problem that a classical computer cannot.
  • It uses the principles of quantum mechanics so that they can easily tackle computational problems that are beyond the scope for the classical computer.

Quantum computing and Traditional Computing:

  • The quantum computing differs from a traditional computing in the way the two store information.
  • The traditional computer stores information in the form of binary bits that can process either ‘1’ or a ‘0’ at a time.
  • On the other hand,Quantum computers compute in qubits or quantum bits which means it can be put into a quantum state where they can simultaneously represent both 0 and 1.

What Google has achieved?

  • Google has claimed that its quantum computer named Sycamore, has completed the task in 200 seconds that would have been accomplished in 10,000 years by the world’s fastest supercomputer named Summit.

Significance of the achievement:

  • Google have achieved only the development of an architecture of qubits and the demonstration of its computing capabilities.Hence,there is still a long way from developing a quantum computer.
  • However,quantum computer when created could revolutionise science research and technological advances.It could boost areas like artificial intelligence leading to new energy sources and even to new drug therapies.
  • On the other hand, the quantum computing can also be a threat to national security.They could override the encryption that protects our computers and the data we use online.

Government e-Marketplace

News:Thegovernment e-Marketplace (GeM) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Federal Bank to offer different services including the transfer of funds.

Facts:

About GeM:

  • Government e Marketplace is an online marketplace setup in 2016 for procurement of commonly used goods and services by government ministries,departments and CPSEs.
  • It aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.
  • It is a National Procurement Portal of India.It functions under Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D),Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Benefits of GeM:

  • Transparency: GeM eliminates human interface in vendor registration, order placement and payment processing to a great extent.
  • Efficiency:Direct purchase on GeM can be done in a matter of minutes and the entire process online, end to end integrated with online tools for assessing price reasonability
  • Secure and safe: GeM is a completely secure platform and all the documents on GeM are e-Signed at various stages by the buyers and sellers.
  • Savings to the Government: transparency, efficiency and ease of use of the GeM portal has resulted in a substantial reduction in prices on GeM.

Kittur Utsav

News:Chief Minister of Karnataka has inaugurated the Kittur Utsav festival.

Facts:

About Kittur Utsav:

  • Kittur Utsav is a three-day festival which celebrates the Queen Rani Channamma’s victory over East India’s company in 1824.
  • The festival organizes sports, cultural programmes and lectures by resource persons on the kingdom of Rani Channamma.

About Kittur Chennamma: 

  • Kittur Chennamma (1778 – 1829) was an Indian freedom fighter and Rani of the Kittur, a former princely state in Karnataka.
  • She is one of the first women freedom fighters to have fought against the British rule in India.
  • She led an armed force against the British East India Company in 1824 in defiance of the doctrine of lapse in an attempt to maintain Indian control over the region. 
  • She was defeated in the third war and was imprisoned at Bailhongal Fort where she died in 1829.

Additional information:

About Doctrine of Lapse:

  • The doctrine of lapse was an annexation policy applied by the British East India Company in India until 1859. 
  • Under the doctrine,the ruler of an independent state died childless,the right of ruling the State reverted or ‘lapsed’ to the sovereign. 
  • The policy is most commonly associated with Lord Dalhousie who was the Governor General of the East India Company in India between 1848 and 1856.
  • However,it was not solely his invention.The East India Company had annexed Kittur in 1824, Mandvi in 1839, Kolaba and Jalaun in 1840 and Surat in 1842 by imposing a ‘doctrine of lapse’.

Cape Town Agreement

News:India is yet to ratify the Cape Town Agreement which was adopted by the International Maritime Organization(IMO) for safety of fishing vessels.

Facts:

About Cape Town Agreement:

  • The Cape Town Agreement was adopted by the IMO in 2012 to help combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
  • The agreement is aimed at facilitating better control of fishing vessel safety by flag, port and coastal states.
  • It includes mandatory safety measures for fishing vessels of 24 meters (79 feet) in length and over. 
  • It covers key parameters such as stability and associated seaworthiness, machinery, and electrical installations, life-saving appliances, communications equipment, fire protection and fishing vessel construction.
  • The agreement will enter into force 12 months after at least 22 nations with an aggregate of 3,600 fishing vessels of 24 metres and over in length operating on the high seas will express their consent to be bound by it.
  • However,till now only 13 countries have ratified the Cape Town Agreement.

Additional information:

About Torremolinos declaration:

  • The Torremolinos declaration aims to ensure that the 2012 Cape Town Agreement will enter into force by the 10th anniversary of its adoption, on October 11,2022.
  • A total of 46 countries have signed this declaration to indicate their determination to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement.

International Maritime Organization:

  • The International Maritime Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations.It currently has 174 Member States.
  • IMO is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent pollution from ships.
  • It is also involved in legal matters, including liability and compensation issues and the facilitation of international maritime traffic.

Automated Facial Recognition System(AFRS)

News:Government of India has asked the IT companies to send proposals to National Crime Record Bureau(NCRB) to install world’s largest facial recognition system.The winner of the bids will create National Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS).

Facts:

About Automated Facial Recognition System(AFRS):

  • Automated Facial Recognition System involves a large database of photos as well as videos of peoples’ faces and biometric software. 
  • The software maps facial features of an individual mathematically and stores the data as a faceprint in the database.
  • Then,a new image of an unidentified person is often taken from CCTV footage is compared to the existing database to find a match and identify the person.
  • The artificial intelligence technology used for pattern-finding and matching is called neural networks.
  • Neural networks are a set of algorithms modeled loosely after the human brain that are designed to recognize patterns.

Concerns:

  • Cyber experts have cautioned that the Automated Facial Recognition System can be used as a controlling tool by the government and transform India into a police state.
  • In the absence of data protection law,Indian citizens will be more vulnerable to privacy abuses if AFRS is used.
  • The use of surveillance cameras and facial recognition constrict the rights of particular class of people.
  • Moreover,even facial recognition systems are not 100% accurate. Therefore,there can be chances of mistaken identity.

Additional information:

About NCRB:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The agency is responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code(IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).

India, Pakistan sign pact to enable Indian pilgrims visit Kartarpur

News:India and Pakistan has signed a Kartarpur agreement to open a land corridor between the two countries.

Facts:

Key Highlights of the agreement:

  • Indian pilgrims of all faiths and Person of Indian origin can use the Kartarpur corridor
  • Travel will be visa free.But the pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport and an electronic travel authorisation they receive if their registration is deemed successful.
  • Persons of Indian Origin need to carry OCI card along with the passport of their country
  • India will send the list of pilgrims to Pakistan 10 days ahead of travel date.Confirmation will be sent to pilgrims 4 days prior to the date of travel.
  • Either party can terminate the agreement at any time by giving notice of one month to the other party of its intention to terminate this agreement.

About Kartarpur Corridor:

  • The Kartarpur Corridor is a 4km long corridor comprising border gates, road and a bridge to link Dera Baba Nanak gurdwara in Gurdaspur district in India to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan.
  • The corridor is aimed at allowing the easy movement of Sikh pilgrims to the Kartarpur gurdwara.
  • The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of River Ravi,about 120 km northeast of Lahore.It is revered as Guru Nanak’s final resting place.

Fitch cuts India’s FY20 GDP growth forecast to 5.5 per cent

News:Fitch Ratings has reduced the growth forecast of India’s gross domestic product(GDP) forecast to 5.5% in 2019-20 from 6.6%.

Facts:

  • Fitch has said that the large squeeze in credit availability arising from the non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) has pushed Indian economic growth to a six year low.
  • It has also said that the slowdown in domestic spending and world trade has also weakened the Indian economy.
  • Further,the investment-led slowdown has also broadened into the consumption driven by financial stress among rural households and weak job creation.
  • However,it has said that the government has taken several policy measures such as (a)easing of NBFCs’ liquidity positions by encouraging banks to purchase high-quality NBFC assets (b) capital is being injected into banks and (c)corporate tax cut to their lowest level.
  • Hence,these measures should help the economy in picking up the economic growth to 6.2% in 2020-21 and 6.7% in 2021-22.

Additional information:

About Fitch:

  • Fitch Ratings is an international credit rating agency based out of New York City and London.It is a leading provider of credit ratings, commentary and research.
  • Along with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s,Fitch is one of the top three credit rating agencies.
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