9 PM Current Affairs Brief – September 25th, 2019

UMMID initiative

News:The Union Minister for Science & Technology has launched the UMMID initiative.

Facts:

About UMMID:

  • UMMID stands for Unique Methods of Management and treatment of Inherited Disorders.
  • The initiative aims at creating awareness about genetic disorders amongst clinicians and establish molecular diagnostics in hospitals so that the benefits of developments in medical genetics could reach patients.
  • The initiative will be implemented by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Features of UMMID:

  • Establish NIDAN (National Inherited Diseases Administration) Kendras to provide counselling, prenatal testing and diagnosis, management, and multidisciplinary care in Government Hospitals wherein the influx of patients is more.
  • The initiative aims to produce skilled clinicians in Human Genetics.
  • It also aims to undertake screening of pregnant women and newborn babies for inherited genetic diseases in hospitals at aspirational districts.

National Service Scheme (NSS)

News:President of India has presented the National Service Scheme(NSS) Awards for 2017-18 to universities, NSS units and NSS volunteers.

Facts:

About NSS:

  • National Service scheme is a Central sector scheme implemented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of the Government of India.
  • The scheme was launched in 1969. 
  • The scheme aims to develop the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service.
  • NSS volunteers play an important role in spreading awareness about government initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Mission activities and yoga program.

Objectives of the scheme:

  • Understand the community in which they work.
  • Understand themselves in relation to their community.
  • Identify the needs and problems of the community and involve them in problem solving process.
  • Develop competence required for group living and sharing of responsibilities.
  • Gain skills in mobilizing community participation.
  • Develop capacity to meet emergencies and natural disasters.
  • Practice national integration and social harmony.

Explained: How coal gasification can help India reduce its energy import

News:Odisha’s Talcher fertiliser plant has been awarded a contract for starting a coal gasification unit for the production of urea and Ammonia.

Facts:

What is coal gasification?

  • Coal gasification is the process of converting coal into synthesis gas (also called syngas) which is a mixture of hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). 
  • The syngas can be used in a variety of applications such as in the production of electricity and making chemical products such as fertilisers.
  • According to the International Energy Agency report, the coal gasification process holds good potential in the future with coal being the most abundantly available fossil fuel across the world and that even low-grade coal can be used in the process.

Significance of coal gasification:

  • According to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers,urea is currently produced using pooled natural gas, which comprises of both domestic natural gas and imported LNG. 
  • Hence,the usage of locally available coal for making fertilisers would help reduce the import of LNG.
  • Further,India currently imports 50 to 70 lakh tonnes of urea every year, and the revival of the units would help increase the availability of domestically produced fertilisers.
  • The project would also generate direct and indirect employment of around 4,500 people.

Concerns:

  • Coal gasification is one of the more water-intensive forms of energy production.
  • There are concerns about water contamination, land subsidence and disposing of waste water safely.

National Population Register

News:Union Home Minister has said that the National Population register(NPR) is being prepared for the first time in the Census 2021.

Facts:

About National population register:

  • The National Population Register or NPR is a Register of the residents of the nation. 
  • NPR is prepared at the local, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • The exercise is different from the Census 2021 and is not linked to the National Register of Citizens(NRC).

Objective:

  • The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.

Definition of resident under NPR:

  • A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
  • The NPR database would also contain demographic as well as biometric details.
  • Under NPR,a resident identity card (RIC) will be issued to individuals over the age of 18.This will be a chip-embedded smart card containing the demographic and biometric attributes of each individual.The UID number will also be printed on the card.

Emissions Trading Scheme(ETS)

News:Gujarat government has launched the world’s first Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for trading in Particulate Matter(PM) emissions.

Facts:

Features of the scheme:

  • The programme aims to reduce particulate air pollution and facilitate robust economic growth.
  • Under the programme,the government sets a cap on emissions and allow industries to buy and sell permits to stay below the cap.
  • The Gujarat state pollution control board (GPCB) will define the total mass of pollution that can be released into the air over a certain fixed period by all industrial units together.This will be equivalent to the cap.
  • The programme is the first market-based approach to regulate pollution emissions in India.Further,it is also the first in the world to regulate particulate air pollution. 
  • At present,the programme is being launched in Surat to understand its impact on emissions, industry costs and regulatory costs.

Additional information:

Emission trading system(ETS):

  • Emission trading systems(ETS) is also referred to as the cap-and-trade system. 
  • Under ETS, the government caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions provided to the companies and allows those industries with low emissions to sell their extra allowances to larger emitters.

Particulate matter:

  • Particulate Matter (PM) is small liquid droplets and solid particles whose hazardous nature increases with a decrease in their size as they become respirable. 
  • It includes both organic and inorganic particles, such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.

Census 2021

News:Union Minister for Home Affairs has said that the 2021 census exercise would be carried out digitally.

Facts:

About Census:

  • The census provides information on size, distribution demographic, socio-economic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
  • A systematic and modern population census in its present form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country.
  • However,the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881.Since then,censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
  • Since 1949 the census has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  • India’s last census was carried out in 2011 when the country’s population stood at 121 crore.The Indian Census is one of the largest administrative exercises undertaken in the world.

Census 2021:

  • The data collected by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India during the 2021 Census will be stored electronically.
  • The Census 2021 will be conducted in 18 languages out of the 22 scheduled languages (under 8th schedule) and English.
  • The Census data would be available by the year 2024-25 as the entire process would be conducted digitally and data crunching would be quicker.

Additional information:

About Registrar General of India:

  • Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India was founded in 1961 by Government of India Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It was formed for arranging, conducting and analysing the results of the demographic surveys of India including Census of India and Linguistic Survey of India.

Microhyla eos

News:Scientists have discovered a new discovered species of frog named Microhyla eos from Arunachal Pradesh.

Facts:

About Microhyla:

  • Microhyla are a group of narrow-mouthed frogs (subfamily Microhylinae) that is primarily and widely distributed in Asia. 
  • They are commonly known as ‘Rice Frogs’ or ‘Chorus Frogs’, the genus currently comprises of 49 recognised species.

About the new frog species:

  • The new frog was discovered from riparian habitats in a primary evergreen forest in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve of the state.
  • The frog was confirmed to represent a distinct new species after detailed comparison of both, DNA and morphology with all the previously known members of the group found across South, Southeast, and East Asia.
  • Since Arunachal Pradesh is popularly known as ‘the land of the rising sun’ or ‘the land of dawn-lit mountains’,the new species has been named as eos after the mythological Greek goddess of dawn.

Additional information:

Namdapha National Park:

  • Namdapha National Park is a large protected area in Arunachal Pradesh
  • The area is located between Dapha Bum ridge of Mishmi Hills outspurs of North Eastern Himalayas and Patkai Ranges.
  • It is the fourth largest national park in India.
  • The Namdapha flying squirrel (Biswamoyopterus biswasi) was first sighted in this park.It is endemic to this park and critically endangered.

Special Expenditure Observers

News:Election commission of India has appointed former IRS officers as special expenditure observers for Maharashtra polls.

Facts:

About Special Expenditure observers:

  • The Special Expenditure Observers are appointed by the EC under the powers conferred under Article 324 of the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • The special observers will be supervising and monitoring the work being done by the electoral machinery.
  • The observers will also watch the conduct of Elections with special emphasis on controlling the abuse of money power, in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer at respective constituencies.
  • They will also ensure stringent and effective enforcement action is undertaken based on intelligence inputs and complaints received through C-VIGIL and Voter Helpline.

Additional information:

About RPA Act,1951:

  • The Representation of the People Act,1951 is an act of Parliament of India.
  • The act provides (a)the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and the House of the Legislature of each State (b)the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses and (c)the corrupt practices,decisions,doubts and disputes arising in connection with such elections.

Election commission:

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India.
  • The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution under Article 324 and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act,1951.
  • The EC administers elections to the (a)Lok Sabha (b)Rajya Sabha (c)state Legislative Assemblies (d)state legislative Councils and the (e)offices of the President and Vice President of the country.

C-VIGIL:

  • Election Commission of India had launched a mobile application named ‘C-vigil.
  • The app allows citizens to report on violation of Model code of conduct.It is operational only where elections are announced.
  • Election observers will also be able to see all the complaints by citizens through C-vigil and take action in real time in their area of jurisdiction.

India International Science Festival

News:The 5th edition of India International Science Festival (IISF) 2019 will be held at Kolkata from 5th to 8th November, 2019.

Facts:

About IISF:

  • IISF is an annual event organised jointly by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences in association with Vijnana Bharati (Vibha).
  • IISF aims to encourage the young minds towards the field of science and to promote the networking of stakeholders working towards the propagation of science.
  • The festival celebrates the achievements of India’s scientific and technological advancements with students, innovators, craftsmen, farmers, scientists and technocrats from India and abroad.
  • The theme for this year’s festival is RISEN India – Research, Innovation, and Science Empowering the Nation.

About Student Science village:

  • Student Science Village is a part of the India International Science Festival 2019 at Kolkata, West Bengal. 
  • The prime goal of Student ScienceVillage is to provide science exposure to the students from rural India and make them aware of India’s achievements in frontier areas of Science & Technology.
  • The programme is linked with Pradhan Mantri Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana where in every Member of Parliament has been asked to nominate five students each along with their teacher from their constituency for the village. 

Additional information:

About Pradhan Mantri Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana:

  • Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is a village development project under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.
  • The goal is to develop three Adarsh Grams or model villages by March 2019, of which one would be achieved by 2016.Thereafter,five such Adarsh Grams (one per year) will be selected and developed by 2024.
  • The scheme is implemented through a village development plan that is prepared for every identified gram panchayat with special focus on enabling every poor household to come out of poverty.
  • The constituency fund, MPLADS fund would be available to fill critical financing gaps.
  • The planning process in each village will be a participatory exercise coordinated by the District Collector.The MP will play an active facilitating role in this exercise.

Krishi Kisan App

News:Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched ‘Krishi Kisan App for Geo Tagging’.

Facts:

About the app:

  • The Krishi Kisan App will provide farmers the information of best demonstration of high-yielding crops and seeds in their nearby area.
  • Any farmer with high quality of crops can utilise this platform to demonstrate best practices of cultivation to other farmers so that this will help other farmers also to adopt these methods.
  • The App will also help in geo-tagging and geo-fencing of crop and give weather forecast message to farmers. 

Kerala police gear up to scan underworld of Internet

News:Kerala police has launched a programme called Cyberdome.

Facts:

About Cyberdome:

  • Cyberdome is Kerala police department’s premier facility dedicated to prevent cybercrime and mitigate security threats to the State’s critical information infrastructure.
  • The facility has state-of-the-art lab complete with enabling software to intervene and crack down on the rising criminal activities over the Darknet also known as the underworld of the Internet.

Additional information:

Darknet:

  • The darknet refers to networks that are not accessible by search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. 
  • These are networks that are only available to a select group of people and not to the general Internet public.It is only accessible via authorization, specific software and configurations.
  • The two typical types of darknet are friend-to-friend networks (usually used for file sharing with a peer-to-peer connection) and privacy networks such as Tor (The Onion Router).
  • It is a major source to buy anything for drug dealers, arms traffickers, child pornography collectors and other criminals involved in financial and physical crimes.

PM pushes to strengthen FATF

News:On the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly session,Indian Prime minister attended the Dialogue on Strategic Responses to Terrorist and Violent Extremist Narratives.

Facts:

  • The dialogue was organised by Jordan, France and New Zealand and attended by leaders of about 24 countries but did not include either China or Pakistan.
  • Addressing the session,Indian Prime minister said that institutional mechanism against terrorism like UN Security Council(UNSC) sanctions and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) listings must not be politicised.

Additional information:

About FATF:

  • The Financial Action Task Force(FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.
  • It is a policy-making body which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas.
  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris, France.

Objectives:

  • The objectives of the FATF are to (a) set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures (b) for combating money laundering (c)terrorist financing and (d) other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

Listing by FATF:FATF maintains two different lists of countries:

  • Grey list:The grey list contains those countries that have deficiencies in their anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) regime.But they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes, 
  • Black list:These countries are those that do not end up doing enough even after having deficiencies in their anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) regime.

Which countries are listed?

  • As of now there are only two countries in the blacklist which are Iran and North Korea.
  • Further,there are seven countries on the grey list which includes countries such as  Pakistan, Syria , Yemen among others.

Implications of listing:

  • Once a country is on grey list,the country is downgraded by institutions like IMF, World Bank, ADB, EU and also reduction in risk rating by Moody’s, Fitch and S&P.
  • Further,if the country is blacklisted,FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures,increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether.
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