9 PM Current Affairs Brief – October 5th, 2019

Him Vijay Exercise

News: China has raised strong objection to the ongoing Him Vijay military exercise.

Facts:

  • Exercise Him Vijay is taking place in October, 2019 in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The exercise is to test mobility, communication and coordination of such huge body of fast-moving troops in difficult terrain.
  • It is first time the integrated battle groups (IBGs) is taking part in an exercise
  • Three mountain IBGs carved out of Panagarh-based 17 Corps’ (Mountain Strike Corps) 59 Mountain Division is taking part in the exercise.

Additional Information:

About Integrated Battle groups:

  • IBGs are brigade-sized, agile, self-sufficient combat formations which can swiftly launch strikes against adversary in case of hostilities.
  • Each IBG is tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain and Task and resources will be allotted based on the three Ts.
  • The IBGs are defensive and offensive. The offensive IBGs  are trained to quickly mobilise and make thrust into enemy territory for strikes,
  • On the other hand, the defensive IBGs are trained to hold ground at vulnerable points or where enemy action is expected.
  • Integrated Battle Groups both on the Western and Northern borders have been created for quicker and formidable launch of attack on enemy.

Jal Jeevan Mission

News: As part of the Jal Jeevan Mission, Rural households will get two to three hours of piped water supply and 14.6 crore such households will be provided piped water connection in the next five years. This was informed at a meeting of the group of Governors on Jal Shakti.

Facts:

About Jal Jeevan Mission:

  • Aim: It seeks to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections (HarGharJal) to all rural households by 2024.
  • Implementing Agency: It will be implemented by Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Jal Shakti Ministry.
  • Finance: The project is estimated to cost Rs 3.50 lakh crore, with the Union government and states sharing the expenses 50:50.
  • Features:
  • It will focus on integrated demand and supply-side management of water at the local level.
  • It will implement source sustainability measures recharge and reuse through grey water management, water conservation, rain water harvesting.
  • It will converge with other Central and State Government Schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water supply management across India.
  • It seeks to generate maximum community participation in the form of ‘jan andolan’ to achieve the target of functional household tap connection by 2024.
  • Need: According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, only 18% of India’s rural households have access to piped water. Thus to improve coverage of households with piped safe drinking water the mission has been initiated.

Additional Information:

Group of Governors:

  • The group of Governors on Jal Shakti was constituted by President Ram Nath Kovind in August 2019.
  • Four other groups on various socioeconomic issues has also been constituted.
    • Group on tribal affairs headed by the Governor of Jharkhand.
    • Group on farmer welfare and agriculture Headed by Governor of Gujarat
    • Group on Education headed by Governor of Uttar Pradesh
    • Group on Governance headed by Governor of West Bengal
  • The report of these groups will be deliberated in the 5th conference of the governors to be held in November 2019.

E-Waste Clinic in Madhya Pradesh

News: The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have signed a MoU to set up India’s first e-waste clinic in Bhopal.

Facts:

  • The e-waste clinic would enable segregation, processing and disposal of waste from both household and commercial units.
  • Electronic waste will be collected door-to-door or could be deposited directly at the clinic in exchange for a fee.
  • Door-to-door collection will happen in two ways. Either separate carts for the collection of e-waste will be designed, or separate bins will be attached to existing ones meant for solid and wet waste.
  • It e-waste clinic in Bhopal would be a 3-month pilot project, which, if successful, will be replicated everywhere in India.
  • The clinic is being conceived in compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.

Additional Information:

E-waste:

  • Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a term for electronic products that have become unwanted, obsolete, and have reached the end of their useful life.
  • It refers to all items of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and its parts that have been discarded by its owner as waste without the intent of re-use.

E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016

  • The rules extend to Producer, consumer, collection centre, dismantler and recycler manufacturer, dealer, refurbisher and Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO). However, micro and small industries are exempted.
  • The applicability of the rules extends to various electronic equipment/products, components, consumables, spares and parts of EEE. Further, Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury containing lamp brought under the purview of rules.
  • The Rules adopt collection-based approach to include collection centre, collection point, take back system etc for collection of e – waste by Producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • The Rules are applicable beyond Municipal areas and extend to urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian Railways, airports, airbase, Port and harbour, defence establishments, special economic zones, State and Central government organizations, places of pilgrims, religious & historical importance.
  • The source segregation of waste is mandated to channelize the waste to wealth by recovery, reuse and recycle.
  • Responsibilities of Generators is mandated to segregate waste into three streams:
    • Wet (Biodegradable),
    • Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, wood, etc.) and
    • Domestic hazardous wastes (diapers, napkins, empty containers of cleaning agents, mosquito repellents, etc.)

World Wildlife Trade

News: According to a study by researchers at University of Florida and the University of Sheffield nearly one in every five species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are bought and sold on the wildlife market globally.

Facts:

Key findings of the Study

  • Out of 31,745 vertebrate species on Earth, 5,579 (18%) are traded — a finding that is 40-60 % higher than previous estimates.
  • Trade in wildlife breaks up as 27% (1,441) of mammal species, 23% (2,345) of bird species, almost 10% (609) of amphibian species and 12% (1,184) of reptiles.
  • Wildlife trade industry generates between $8 billion and 21 billion, pushing some of these species closer to extinction.
  • Trade of wildlife for luxury foods, medicinal parts and as pets are the key factors contributing to the extinction risk faced by of vertebrates globally.
  • Overall for vertebrates, 44% are traded as pets and over 60% as products.

Additional Information:

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)

  • It is an international treaty to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct because of international trade.
  • CITES was drafted after a resolution was adopted at a meeting of the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963. The text of the Convention was agreed at a meeting in Washington, DC in 1973. The Convention is therefore sometimes referred to as the Washington Convention. CITES came into force in 1975.
  • CITES is legally binding on the Parties, but it does not take the place of national laws.
  • The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
    • Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
    • Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
    • Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

Cosmic Web

News: The cosmic web has been imaged on a large scale for the first time. The study has been published in the journal Science.

Facts:

Cosmic Web:

  • Galaxies across the universe are connected by a complex structure made up of filaments of dark matter and sheets of hydrogen gas. The network connecting these intergalactic filaments is known as cosmic web.
  • The existence of the cosmic web is central to current theories of how galaxies first formed following the big bang, however, evidence for it had remained largely theoretical.
  • The recent observations of the cosmic web support the cold dark matter theory of galaxy formation.

Cold dark matter theory:

  • The theory suggest that hydrogen gas created in the big bang collapses first into sheets and then into filaments strung out across space.
  • In places where filaments cross or are clustered together, galaxies form and the filaments continue to fuel the growth of galaxies by feeding them a steady stream of gas.

Additional Information

Dark Matter:

  • Dark matter is a form of matter thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe and about 25% of its total energy density.
  • Most dark matter is thought to be non-baryonic (not composed primarily of baryons- protons, neutrons and all the objects composed of them) in nature, possibly being composed of some as-yet undiscovered subatomic particles.

Goa Maritime Conclave– 2019

News:The Goa Maritime Conclave(GMC)-2019 was inaugurated by the National Security Advisor(NSA) at Goa on 4th October 2019.

Facts:

About the Goa Maritime Conclave(GMC):

  • The theme for the conclave is “Common Maritime Priorities in IOR and need for Regional Maritime Strategy”. 
  • The conclave was attended by the heads of the navies of ten nations from the Indian Ocean region of (a)Bangladesh (b)Indonesia, (c)Malaysia (d)Maldives (e)Mauritius (f)Myanmar (g)Seychelles, (h)Singapore (I)Sri Lanka and (j)Thailand.
  • It focussed on issues such as (a)capacity building among Indian Ocean region(IOR) navies to tackle emerging maritime threats and (b)discussing cooperative strategies for enhancing interoperability among partner maritime agencies.

Key takeaways from the conclave:

  • During the conclave,NSA has said that seas, outer space and cyberspace are going to offer the biggest opportunity and also present the most serious threat to security.
  • Further,the NSA also stressed on the need to continuously design infrastructure and research-backed intelligence to tackle new threats arising from the seas.

Additional information:

About NSA:

  • The National Security Adviser (NSA) in India is the senior official on the National Security Council(NSC) of India and the chief adviser to the Prime Minister of India on national and international security policy.

Deadly Japanese Fungi found in Australia

News:One of the world’s most deadly fungi called Poison fire Coral has been identified growing in Australia for the first time.

Facts:

About Poison fire Coral:

  • Poison fire coral which has a red appearance is a native of Japan and Korea.
  • The fungus species is the only known fungus that is poisonous to touch. It produces at least eight toxic compounds that can be absorbed through the skin.
  • The ingestion of the virus can prove fatal and there are several recorded deaths in Japan and Korea
  • Even touching the fungus can also cause inflammation and dermatitis. Further,If eaten,the fungus can cause organ failure and brain damage.

Cabinet approves new strategic disinvestment process

News:Union Cabinet has approved a new process of strategic disinvestment with a view to expediting privatization of select PSUs.

Facts:

What are the new changes?

  • Under the new policy, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) under the Ministry of Finance has been made the nodal department for the strategic disinvestment sale.
  • Currently, PSUs for strategic sale are identified by NITI Aayog.But the new policy has now allowed DIPAM and NITI Aayog to jointly identify PSUs for strategic disinvestment.
  • Further, the DIPAM secretary would now co-chair the inter-ministerial group on disinvestment along with the secretary of administrative ministries concerned. 

Additional information:

What is disinvestment?

  • Disinvestment is defined as the action of an organisation or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary.It is also referred to as divestment.
  • In the case of Public Sector Undertakings(PSU), disinvestment means Government selling/ diluting its stake (share) in PSUs in which it has a majority holding.
  • Disinvestment is carried out as a budgetary exercise under which the government announces yearly targets for disinvestment for selected PSUs.
  • Government has set the disinvestment target of 1.05 lakh crore for the current financial year 2019-20.

Significance of disinvestment:

  • It improves the structure of incentives and accountability of PSUs in India.
  • It can help in the revival of loss-making public sector enterprises(PSU).
  • It can help in financing the increasing fiscal deficit.
  • It can also finance the large-scale infrastructure development, defense, education and healthcare projects.

Concerns on disinvestment:

  • The process of disinvestment is not favoured socially as it is against the interest of socially disadvantageous people.
  • After disinvestment, the employees of Public Sector Units(PSUs) will lose their jobs.
  • Government’s dividend income will also decline as it will have less shares in the PSUs.

Government constitutes working group to prepare contours of new industrial policy

News:Government has constituted a working group to prepare the contours of a new industrial policy to make India a manufacturing hub. 

Facts:

  • This will be the third industrial policy after the first in 1956 and the second in 1991.
  • The new industrial policy will replace the industrial policy of 1991 which was prepared in the backdrop of the balance of payment crisis. 
  • The policy will be prepared with an aim to (a)create jobs for the next two decades (b)promote foreign technology transfer and (c)attract $100 billion foreign investment annually. 

About the working group:

  • The working group will be chaired by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) secretary.
  • The group has government representatives from seven states including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, besides other two as members. 
  • The group will also have members from industry chambers, including FICCI, CII and Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and additional secretary/joint secretary from six ministries including commerce, revenue, economic affairs and MSME 
  • It will consult stakeholders, identify pain points of industry and develop actionable solutions for short and medium term.
  • It will also delineate the role for private sector in achieving the national targets. 

Explained: How Singapore law proposes to crack down on ‘false’ online posts

News: Singapore has passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act,2019.

Facts:

Features of the Act:

  • The act aims to control the spread of falsehood which the government deems to be a threat to national security, public tranquillity and Singapore’s friendly relations with other countries.
  • The act enables the government to order social media websites to take down posts deemed to be false.
  • It gives Singaporean ministers the power to decide whether content on the internet is considered a falsehood.The minister will need to explain why the statement is false.
  • A falsehood is defined as a statement of fact that is false or misleading. However,the act’s definition of a falsehood is limited to a statement of fact and does not cover opinions, criticisms, satire or parody.
  • Further,if a minister identifies a falsehood,the individual is issued a Stop Communication Direction to be complied with within a specified time period.
  • Only when falsehood is spread with malicious intent do criminal sanctions apply.It provides for prosecutions of individuals who can face fines of up to S$50,000 and, or up to five years in prison.
  • The act also provides for a set of binding Codes of Practice for technology companies covering three areas.
  • The three areas are (a)inauthentic online accounts and bots (b)digital advertising transparency and (c)de-prioritising falsehoods will be applied to digital advertising intermediaries or Internet intermediaries.
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