9 PM Current Affairs Brief – September 19th, 2019

Rustom-2

News:Rustom-2 has crashed during a trial at Karnataka’s Chitradurga district.

Facts:

About Rustom-2:

  • Rustom 2 is part of the Rustom line of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAVs) that includes Rustom-I, Rustom-H and Rustom-C.
  • The drone was developed for use by all three services of the Indian armed forces primarily for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.
  • The drone can fly at over 22,000 ft and is a medium-altitude long endurance(MALE) UAV that has an approximate flight time of 20 hours.
  • Rustom 2 can fly missions on manual as well as autonomous modes. The onboard way-point navigation system allows the drone to conduct missions autonomously.
  • The drone can carry a variety of payloads like Medium and long Range Electro Optic , Synthetic Aperture Radar(SAR), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) and Situational Awareness Payloads(SAP) that helps in performing missions even during the night.

Additional information:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAVs):

  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASes) are also known as drones.
  • The drones may be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.

ISRO, DRDO join hands for Gaganyaan project

News:Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) and Defence Research Development Organisation(DRDO) has signed MoUs to jointly develop systems that will aid and enhance the Gaganyaan project.

Facts:

About Gaganyaan project:

  • Gaganyaan is India’s first Human Space Flight Programme to be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by 2022.
  • The programme will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission.So far,only the USA, Russia and China have launched human spaceflight missions.
  • The spacecraft will consists of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as the Orbital Module.
  • The Orbital Module will have three Indian astronauts.It will circle Earth at a low-earth-orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km from earth for 5-7 days.
  • GSLV Mk III also called the LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3) will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has the necessary payload capability.
  • Further,ISRO will receive assistance from the French space agency CNES in terms of expertise in various fields including space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, radiation protection and life support.

Dr Kalam Smriti International Excellence Award

News:Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been conferred the Dr Kalam Smriti International Excellence Award 2019.

Facts:

  • She has been awarded for her vision of a peaceful and prosperous South Asia and her contribution to fostering cooperation between India and Bangladesh.

About the award:

  • The award has been instituted in the memory of former Indian President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
  • The award is given every year to honour statesmen or leaders who have shown excellence in their fields to achieve the best for their countries.
  • Earlier,the Presidents of the Maldives, Ghana and Mauritius had received the award since its introduction in 2015.
  • The award is presented by Dale View,a non-governmental organisation registered under the Charitable Societies Act.It was created in 1978 in Kerala to bring about socio-economic development to rural areas through education.

Paraquat herbicide

News:Doctors in Odisha’s has urged the Odisha government to ban the paraquat herbicide that has killed around 170 people in the last two years. 

Facts:

About Paraquat:

  • Paraquat is a toxic chemical that is widely used as an herbicide (plant killer) ,primarily for weed and grass control.
  • The herbicide has been banned in 32 countries including Switzerland, where herbicide producing company Syngenta is based.
  • Paraquat also figures on the list of 99 pesticides and herbicides that the Supreme Court is hearing to ban in an ongoing case.So far in India,only Kerala has banned the herbicide.
  • However,Paraquat is yet to be listed in the prior informed consent (PIC) of the Rotterdam Convention.

Why Paraquat should be banned?

  • There is no alternative treatment for people who have consumed this herbicide.
  • The consumers who has consumed it has complained of kidney, liver and lung problems.

Additional information:

About Rotterdam convention:

  • The Rotterdam Convention was adopted on 10 September,1998 in Rotterdam,the Netherlands.The Convention entered into force in 2004.
  • The convention is also known as the Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
  • India is a party to the convention with 161 other parties.
  • The convention aims to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals.
  • The convention provides open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans.
  • Further,the signatory nations can decide whether to allow or ban the importation of chemicals listed in the treaty and exporting countries are obliged to make sure that producers within their jurisdiction comply.

Committee to review Companies, LLP Acts

News:Government of India has constituted the company law committee for examining and making recommendations on various provisions and issues related to implementation of the Companies Act.

Facts:

About the committee:

  • The committee will consist of 11-members which will be chaired by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) secretary Injeti Srinivas.
  • The committee will submit its recommendations on offences both compoundable and non-compoundable which could be recategorised as civil offences under the Companies Act, 2013.
  • The panel will propose measures to improve the functioning of the National Company Law Tribunal.
  • The committee will also examine the feasibility of introducing settlement mechanism, deferred prosecution agreement within the fold of the Companies Act, 2013.
  • Further,it will also study the existing framework under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 and suggest measures to plug the gaps, if any, to enhance the ease of doing business.

Additional information:

Compoundable and non-compoundable offences:

  • Compoundable offences are those that are punishable with a fine or with a fine or imprisonment or both.
  • Non-compoundable offences are those offences which are punishable with imprisonment only or punishable with imprisonment and fine.

Companies Act,2013:

  • The Companies Act 2013 is an Act of the Parliament of India on Indian company law.Company means a company incorporated under this Act or under any previous Company Law.
  • The law regulates incorporation of a company, responsibilities of a company, directors and dissolution of a company. 

Limited liability partnership act,2008:

  • The Limited Liability Partnership Act,2008 was enacted by the Parliament of India to introduce and legally sanction the concept of LLP in India.
  • A limited liability partnership(LLP) is a partnership in which some or all partners (depending on the jurisdiction) have limited liabilities.
  • In an LLP,each partner is not responsible or liable for another partner’s misconduct or negligence.
  • This is an important difference from the traditional unlimited partnership in which each partner has joint and several liability.

National Recruitment Agency (NRA)

News:A new National Recruitment Agency(NRA) will be set up to streamline recruitment process on subordinate-rank posts in the government.

Facts:

About the NRA:

  • The proposal new agency is meant to streamline the recruitment process on subordinate-rank posts in the government.
  • It will also reduce the burden of the Staff Selection Commission(SSC) and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection(IBPS) from holding preliminary recruitment exams which is an extensive exercise. 
  • Once set up, NRA will work as a preliminary single-window agency to shortlist qualifying candidates from the bulk of applicants and forward the list to SSC, IBPS to hold the mains.
  • However, the proposed agency will not be in charge of recruitment of Probationary Officers(PO) in banks.

Additional information:

Staff Selection Commission(SSC)

  • The Staff Selection Commission is an attached office of the Department of Personnel and Training.
  • It was constituted as the Subordinate Services Commission in 1975 which was subsequently re-designated as Staff Selection Commission in 1977.
  • SSC makes recruitment to various Group “B” and Group “C” posts in the various Ministries/Departments of the Government of India and in Subordinate Offices.

Institute of Banking Personnel Selection(IBPS)

  • IBPS is an autonomous body that is mainly engaged in conducting competitive exams for recruitment to clerical and officers’ posts in the banking sector.

Indian Council for Cultural Relations(ICCR)

News:International Ramayana Festival was organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations(ICCR) in New Delhi.

Facts:

About ICCR:

  • The Indian Council for Cultural Relations(ICCR) is an autonomous organisation of the Government of India.
  • It was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who was the first Education Minister of independent India.

Objectives of ICCR:

  • To actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes pertaining to India’s external cultural relations.
  • To foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries
  • To promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people and to develop relations with nations.

MIS Portal Under Accessible India Campaign

News:Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities(DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has developed a Management Information System(MIS) for stakeholders of Accessible India Campaign (AIC).

Facts:

About MIS Portal:

  • The MIS portal will bring all the nodal ministries and States/UTs on a single platform for monitoring the progress being made against each target of Accessible India Campaign (AIC).
  • The portal will be useful in maintaining all the function on digital platform and capture data on a real-time basis.

Accessible India Campaign:

  • Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities(DEPwD) has formulated the Accessible India Campaign also known as Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan.
  • It was launched on International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December,2015.
  • The campaign is based on the principles of the Social Model of Disability, which means disability is caused by the way society is organised and not by the person’s limitations and impairments
  • The aim of the Campaign is to make a barrier free and conducive environment for Persons with Disabilities all over the country.
  • The campaign targets three separate verticals for achieving universal accessibility namely (a)built up environment (b)transportation ecosystem and (c)information & communication technology(ICT) ecosystem.
  • The campaign is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to which India is a signatory.

Collegium system

News:President has appointed four new judges to the Supreme Court taking its strength to 34 which is the highest-ever.

Facts:

About Collegium system:

  • The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges to the Supreme Court and transfers of judges of the High Courts are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • The Collegiums System of appointment of judges has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.

Procedure of an appointment:

  • The Chief Justice of India (CJI) and the other judges of the highest judiciary are appointed by the President of India under Article 124(2) of the Constitution.

Eligibility:A person to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court should have the following qualifications: 

  • He should be a citizen of India.
  • He should have been a judge of a High Court (or high courts in succession) for five years; or
  • He should have been an advocate of a High Court (or High Courts in succession) for ten years; or
  • He should be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the president.

Are Collegium recommendations binding?

  • The Central Government can ask the Collegium to reconsider its recommendations only once as the recommendations are binding on the Central Government if the Collegium sends the names of the judges to the government for the second time.

Concerns with the Collegium system:

  • Collegium is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution and has been evolved by the judiciary itself.
  • The collegium system is seen as a closed-door affair with no prescribed norms regarding eligibility criteria or even the selection procedure.
  • Collegium has not been able to keep a check on the rising cases of vacancies of judges and cases in courts.
  • There is no public knowledge of how and when a collegium meets and how it takes its decisions.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

News:India is expected to back Argentina’s nominee for the post of Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Facts:

About IAEA:

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) is widely known as the world’s Atoms for Peace and Development.It was established as an autonomous organization in 1957.
  • It seems to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna,Austria.It has 171 member states with one vote per member.
  • Though established as an autonomous organisation,the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Security Council.
  • The IAEA and its former Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

Mission:The IAEA is generally described as having three main missions:

  • Peaceful uses: Promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by its member states,
  • Safeguards: Implementing safeguards to verify that nuclear energy is not used for military purposes, and
  • Nuclear safety: Promoting high standards for nuclear safety.

Karan Vandana:A new hybrid wheat variety

News:Government is planning to launch a new hybrid wheat variety named Karan Vandana across the country.

Facts:

About Karan Vandana

  • It has been developed by the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • It is also known as DBW-187.It is resistant to both yellow rust and white blast diseases.

Additional information:

Yellow rust:

  • Yellow rust is a fungal disease which manifests as powdery yellow stripes on leaves. 
  • These stripes hinder photosynthesis make the grains shrivel and stunt growth of the plant.
  • It is a serious disease which has been threatening wheat cultivation in the country the past few years. 
  • All the wheat growing states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, the tarai region of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and the low lying areas of Jammu and Kashmir are susceptible to the disease. 

Wheat Blast

  • Wheat Blast is also a fungal disease.
  • It prevents maturation of the actual grain which affects reproduction by causing the host to produce fewer seeds.

About ICAR:

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare , Government of India.
  • The Council is the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country.

Manual Scavenging

News:The Supreme Court of India has pulled up the Centre on the number of deaths of manual scavengers and for not providing them with protective gear.

Facts:

About Manual scavenging:

  • Manual scavenging is the practice of manually cleaning,carrying, disposing of, or handling human excreta.
  • The International Labour Organization(ILO) distinguishes three forms of manual scavenging: a) Removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, b) Cleaning septic tanks, and c) Cleaning gutters and sewers.

Issues faced by manual scavengers:

  • Caste-based discrimination
  • Poor Knowledge of existing laws
  • Lack of occupational and safety measures
  • Health issues
  • Low pay

Government efforts to end Manual Scavenging:

  • Government of India had enacted the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act,1993.
  • The act prohibited the employment of manual scavengers for manually cleaning dry latrines and also the construction of dry toilets (that do not operate with a flush).
  • In 2013,this was followed by the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 which was wider in scope.
  • The act intends to eliminate unsanitary latrines and prohibit employment as manual scavengers.It also prohibits hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
  • In 2014,the Supreme Court has also made it mandatory for the government to identify all those who died in sewerage work since 1993 and provide ₹10 lakh each as compensation to their families.

International Migrant Stock 2019

News: Union Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Population Division, has released International Migrant Stock 2019.

Facts:

Key takeaways from International Migrant Stock 2019:

  • Number of international migrants in the world had reached an estimated 272 million 2019 — 51 million more than in 2010.
  • The percentage of international migrants of the total global population has increased to 3.5% from 2.8% in 2000.
  • India (17.5 million) is the top source of international migrants, followed by Mexico, China, Russia and Syria.
  • The number of migrants living in India declined from 5.24 million in 2015 to an estimated 5.15 million in 2019. Bangladesh was the leading country of origin for migrants in India.
  • The European region hosted the highest number of the immigrants at 82 million in 2019, followed by North America (59 million) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (49 million).
  • Among countries, the U.S. hosts the highest number of international migrants (51 million), about 19% of the global population.

Additional Information:

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA):

  • It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and is responsible for the follow-up to major United Nations Summits and Conferences, as well as services to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Second and Third Committees of the United Nations General Assembly.
  • It assists countries around the world in agenda-setting and decision-making with the goal of meeting their economic, social and environmental challenges.
  • It was established in 1948. It is headquartered in New York, USA.

Prohibition of E-cigarettes Ordinance, 2019

News: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the Promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement) Ordinance, 2019.

Facts:

About E-cigarettes:

  • E-cigarettes are the most common form of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). These are battery- operated devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution, which a user then inhales.
  • Other examples: Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and e-cigars and other similar devices.

Concerns associated with E-cigarettes:

  • The solutions in E-cigarettes contain propylene glycol, nicotine etc pose significant health risks, including cancer.
  • E-cigarettes have adverse impact that is comparable to cigarette smoking- damage to cardiovascular system, impaired respiratory immune cell function and severe respiratory disease.
  • Concerns about addiction in teens and young adults as e-cigarettes are often advertised as less harmful than conventional cigarettes.

Prohibition of E-cigarettes Ordinance, 2019

  • After the ban comes into force, any production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale), distribution or advertisement (including online advertisement) of e-cigarettes will be a cognizable offence.
  • The offence will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, or fine up to ₹1 lakh, or both for the first offence; and imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to ₹5 lakh for a subsequent offence.
  • Those found storing e-cigarettes will be punished with an imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.
  • Those who have existing stocks of e-cigarettes will have to declare and deposit them with the nearest police station on their own before the ordinance comes into effect
  • The sub-inspector has been designated as the authorised officer to take action under the ordinance.

Significance of the ban:

  • Will ensure effective and timely action against the trend of use of e-cigarettes especially among youth.
  • Will complement government’s efforts for tobacco control
  • Will help in reduction of tobacco use and reduction in associated economic and disease burden.

Additional Information:

  • In August 2018, the Indian health ministry had issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories (UTs) to stop the manufacture, sale and import of ENDS.
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in its white paper on Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), published on the eve of World No Tobacco Day (31st may), has said that ENDS adversely affects almost all the human body systems. It has recommended a complete ban on e-cigarettes and other ENDS.
  • According to WHO’s Global Tobacco Epidemic 2017 report, nearly 30 countries have banned ENDS. Examples include Mauritius, Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
  • In India, 16 states and 1 UT has had already banned manufacture, import and sale of ENDS.
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