ForumIAS: Facts in News (February Week 3rd, 2018)

Facts in news is published on a weekly basis that consists a gist of all crucial news articles from ‘The Hindu’ that may bear relevance to Civil Services Preparation.

Here is the Summary of all current happenings from around the world for the Third week of February 2018.

Download Facts in News PDF file here.

Art and Culture
Crucible for civilisationContext:
• A recently published paper has revealed that small tools were used nearly 385,000 years ago at Attirampakkam
About the paper:
• The paper named ‘Early Middle Palaeolithic culture in India around 385-172 ka reframes Out of Africa models’, by Akhilesh Kumar, Shanti Pappu and others have been published in the Nature
• The paper has revealed stunning new evidence that small tool — as opposed to larger ones that characterised early human species — were being made at Attirampakkam way before — nearly 385,000 years ago.
Significance of the study:
• The paper helps to set the time when the transition from larger hand axes and cleavers, known technically as the Acheulean culture, to smaller tools such as scrapers, used in the Middle Palaeolithic culture, happened.
About Attirampakkam:
• It is located close to Madras
• It is the site where, in 1863, British geologist and archaeologist Robert Bruce Foote discovered the first Palaeolithic stone tools from India
About Palaeolithic:
• The first or the oldest prehistoric culture is known as Palaeolithic or the Old Stone Age.
• The Palaeolithic period extends from the first appearance of artefacts to the end of the last ice age (about 8,500 years BC).
42 Indian languages stare at extinctionContext:
• More than 40 languages or dialects in India are believed to be heading towards extinction
Related facts:
• There are 42 languages which are spoken by less than 10,000 people. These are considered endangered and may be heading towards extinction
• According to a report of the Census Directorate, there are 22 scheduled languages and 100 non-scheduled languages in India
• These are spoken by a large number of people — one lakh or more.
List of Endangered Indian Languages or Dialects by UNESCO
• 11 from Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Lamongse, Luro, Muot, Onge, Pu, Sanenyo, Sentilese, Shompen and Takahanyilang),
• 7 from Manipur (Aimol, Aka, Koiren, Lamgang, Langrong, Purum and Tarao)
• 4 from Himachal Pradesh (Baghati, Handuri, Pangvali and Sirmaudi)
• Manda, Parji and Pengo (Odisha),
• Koraga and Kuruba (Karnataka),
• Gadaba and Naiki (Andhra Pradesh),
• Kota and Toda (Tamil Nadu),
• Mra and Na (Arunachal Pradesh),
• Tai Nora and Tai Rong (Assam),
• Bangani (Uttarakhand),
• Birhor (Jharkhand),
• Nihali (Maharashtra),
• Ruga (Meghalaya)
• Toto (West Bengal).
Internal Security
Mind the perimeter: On J&K terror attacksContext:
• The Sunjuwan attack exposes the vulnerabilities in perimeter security and the scant progress made in improving the security protocol since the attack on the Pathankot Air Force station in January 2016.
About the Sunjuwan terror attack:
• The garrison of the 36 Brigade of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry was attacked by a small group of heavily armed terrorists that managed to enter the residential quarters of soldiers.
• While three terrorists were killed, six soldiers and a civilian lost their lives.
Measures taken:
• In the aftermath of Pathankot, a committee undertook a security audit of all military bases across the country.
• It identified sensitive installations and recommended measures to fortify them
• The Defence Ministry sanctioned Rs. 1,487 crore to strengthen sensitive military installations across the country as per the recommendations of a 2016 audit.
• Defence Minister has also directed the Army to complete its implementation by the end of the year.
Indian Constitution and Polity
Order to install CCTV cameras in courts is only for security reasons, clarifies Supreme CourtContext:
• Recently, the Supreme Court passed orders for installation of CCTV cameras in courts
• On March 28, 2017, the Supreme Court directed that CCTV cameras should be installed in courts and important locations of court complexes in at least two districts in every State and Union Territory.
• The monitor of these cameras should be placed in the chamber of the district and session judge concerned.
• The apex court had, in its order, made it clear that footage from the cameras would not be made available to the public under the Right to Information Act or without the permission of the High Court concerned.
• The court had also considered the issue of CCTV cameras in tribunals where open hearing takes place like courts.
• It was further directed that cameras may be installed in subordinate courts in a phased manner.
Rationale behind this decision:
• The Supreme Court recently clarified that its orders is meant solely for security purposes and not to record proceedings, which anyway were open to the public.
• For security and administration of justice
Supreme Court may hear plea to take up two-child normContext:
• The Supreme Court may hear a plea to direct the Union government to adopt the “two-child” policy norm in family planning.
About the Petition:
• The public interest litigation petition has been filed by activist Anupam Bajpai
• The petition calls for incentives for couples who follow the “two-child” policy norm and punishment by withdrawal of government “facilities and concessions” for those who violate the norm
• The petition has asked the court to direct the Central government to “motivate the people of this country” to follow the two-child policy norm
The concern over rising population:
• According to the petition, the growing population has put immense pressure on natural resources.
• This has led to several problems which include land degradation, dangerous levels of pollution, global warming and the depletion of ground and surface water.
Prasar Bharati, Centre on collision courseContext
• The proposal of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to appoint an IAS officer as a board member of Prasar Bharati member is in contravention of two clauses of the Prasar Bharati Act.
The Clauses:
• Clause 4(1) of the Act says the Chairman and all the members of the board are to be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Vice-President, the Chairman of the Press Council of India and a nominee of the President.
• Clause 6(2) says the member (personnel) “shall be whole-time member”.
• Clause 6(7) says whole-time members shall be the employees of the corporation.
About Prasar Bharati
• Prasar Bharati is a statutory autonomous body established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence in 1997.
• It is the Public Service Broadcaster of the country.
About Prasar Bharti Act:
• The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 came into force in 1997.
• The Act provides for establishment of a Broadcasting Corporation known as Prasar Bharti.
• The act defines composition, powers and functions of the Corporation.
• The Act aims to provide autonomy to electronic media i.e. the All India Radio and Doordarshan which until the enactment of the Act were under government control.
Directing reformsContext:
Recently, in a landmark judgement the Supreme Court has imposed an additional disclosure norm for candidates contesting elections.
About the Supreme Court Verdict:
• The Court has asked the Centre to amend the rules as well as the disclosure form filed by candidates along with their nomination papers, to include the sources of their income, and those of their spouses and dependents.
• The court has also asked for the establishment of a permanent mechanism to investigate any unexplained or disproportionate increase in the assets of legislators during their tenure.
Myanmar dam on border worries Manipur villageContext:
• Tuidimjang dam being constructed by Myanmar across a river close to the boundary becomes a reason of concern among border villagers in Kengjoi subdivision of Manipur’s Chandel district.
The Issue:
• The topography of the area is such that the immediate villages will be submerged if the dam comes up
About Tuidimjang dam
• The dam is on the Twigem River flowing into Myanmar from Manipur.
Raje drops Bill shielding public servantsContext:
• Rajasthan Chief Minister has announced the withdrawal of the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017
About the Bill:
• The Bill proposed banning courts from taking up cases against serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants without government sanction.
• It also proposed to ban the media from naming the public servant involved in such cases until the government allowed it to be investigated.
‘No info from Centre on Naga pact’Context:
• The Assam government has said that it had not received any communication from the Centre on the Naga Framework Agreement
About the Naga Framework Agreement
• The Naga framework Agreement was signed in 2015
• It was signed by the Centre’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks, RN Ravi and leader of the NSCN (I-M).
• It aimed at facilitating stronger ties among Nagas across the region, without substantially changing the jurisdictional and administrative authority of neighbouring states.
Mahanadi tribunal gets Central nodContext:
• The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of a tribunal to settle a row between Odhisa and Chhattisgarh on sharing the waters of the Mahanadi River.
Role of the Tribunal:
• The role of the Tribunal will be to determine water sharing among basin States on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin,
• It will also determine the contribution of each State, the present utilisation of water resource in each State and the potential for future development
About Inter-State River Disputes (Amendment) Bill:
• The order on constituting a new tribunal has come even as the government plans to introduce a new bill that would have a single tribunal to replace all existing water tribunals.
• The bill, called the Inter-State River Disputes (Amendment) Bill, was introduced in the Lok Sabha by former Water Resources Minister in March 2017
• The proposed Bill has provisions for members, even a chairperson, outside the judiciary.
• The Bill could affect the composition of the members of various tribunals.
About Mahanadi River
• Mahanadi rises from Raipur district of Chhattisgarh and flows for about 851 km before its outfall into the Bay of Bengal.
• It flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Odhisa
Supreme Court curtails Tamil Nadu’s share of Cauvery waterContext:
• The Supreme Court gave a verdict in Karnataka’s favour in a dispute over the sharing of the Cauvery river water with Tamil Nadu.
About the Verdict:
• The judgment was passed on a batch of appeals by the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala challenging the 2007 award passed by the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal
• Supreme Court curtailed Tamil Nadu’s share of Cauvery water by 14.75 tmcft and increased Karnataka’s share to meet Bengaluru’s drinking water needs.
• Tamil Nadu will get 404.25 tmcft, which will be 14.75 tmcft less than what was allotted by the tribunal in 2007.
• Karnataka will now release only 177.25 TMC ft Cauvery water from Billigundlu site to Mettur dam in Tamil Nadu.
• The SC has also directed the formation of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB)
• The 2007 tribunal award of 30 TMC ft to Kerala and 7 TMC ft water to Puducherry will remain unchanged
About the River Cauvery
• The Cauvery River originates in Karnataka’s Kodagu district, flows into Tamil Nadu, and reaches the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar.
• Parts of three Indian states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka – and the Union Territory of Pondicherry lie in the Cauvery basin.
• The total catchment area is 81,155 square kilometres. Off the total area 34,273 kilometres is in Karnataka, 44,016 square km in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and about 2,866 sq km is in Kerala.
• The river’s upper hilly catchment lies in Karnataka and Kerala. Its lower part lies in the plains of Tamil Nadu.
• Karnataka is the upper riparian state where the river originates; Tamil Nadu is a lower riparian state.
You value a rape at ₹6,500, ‘shocked’ SC asks M.P. govt.Context:
• The Supreme Court said that it was “shocking” that Madhya Pradesh, which was among the States that received maximum funds from the Centre under the Nirbhaya scheme, was disbursing a meagre ₹6,000-₹6,500 to each victim of sexual assault
About Nirbhaya Fund Scheme:
• The Nirbhaya Fund scheme was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the horrific December 16, 2012 gang-rape and murder case in Delhi,
• It aims to support the initiatives of governments and NGOs working for women’s safety.
Dealing with hijackingContext:
• India had repealed Anti-Hijacking Act of 1982 in 2016
Highlights of the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016:
• The Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 repealed the 1982 Act
• It revamped Section 3 of the 1982 legislation to expand the definition of hijacking to seizure or takeover of an aircraft using “any technological means”.
• The law takes into consideration the possibility that a hijacker need not be physically present inside the aircraft to take control of it. According to the Act, even a credible “threat” to hijack an aircraft amounts to hijacking.
• The definition of ‘hijacking’ further includes an attempt to commit the crime, abetting, organising, participating in it as an accomplice, and unlawfully and intentionally assisting a person involved in hijacking to evade investigation or prosecution or punishment.
• Section 4 of the Act allows capital punishment if the hijacking leads to the death of a hostage, a security personnel, or any person not involved in the offence. The alternative is life imprisonment.
• According to the Act, an aircraft is considered to be “in-service” from the beginning of its pre-flight preparation by ground personnel or crew for a specific flight until 24 hours after “any landing”.
International Relations
Back to the chessboard?Context:
• Sri Lanka’s local government election held on February 10 has led to a political crisis in the country, threatening the stability of the present government.
The Issue:
• Mr. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) and the Sirisena-led faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), its traditional rival, have been in government together since 2015
• In the February 10th local government polls, the partners in national government contested separately and lost to the newly formed party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), or Sri Lanka People’s Front backed by Mr. Rajapaksa
• Sri Lankan President and PM have failed to reach consensus on the future of their coalition government
India offers support for reconstruction of IraqContext:
• India has called for a comprehensive political settlement and reconciliation in Iraq at the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq in Kuwait, where major world powers are meeting to chalk out a plan of recovery for the country.
India’s Support to Iraq:
• Since the outbreak of the war in 2003, India had frequently responded to the humanitarian needs in Iraq
• India has contributed in several ways, including providing $10 million in aid towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) for investments, reconstruction and development in Iraq.
About the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq:
• The International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq was held in Kuwait on 12 -14 February 2018.
• The three-day event mobilized nearly USD 30 billion of additional international support to the country following ISIL's territorial defeat in 2017.
• The conference focused on the physical and human dimensions of reconstruction, e.g. infrastructure, private investment and societal issues such as humanitarian needs, social protection, good governance and accountability.
About International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI)
• The International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) was endorsed at the Madrid Conference
• It came up in response to international requests to help donors channel their resources and coordinate their support for reconstruction and development activities in Iraq.
Nepal gets new Communist Prime Minister: K P Sharma Oli sworn in for second timeContext:
• CPN-UML Chairman K.P. Sharma Oli has sworn in as the 41st Prime Minister of Nepal
Related facts
• K.P. Sharma Oli has been appointed as the Prime Minister for the second time
• He was the Prime Minister from October 11, 2015 to August 4, 2016.
• He had to step down from the prime-ministerial post after the CPN (Maoist Centre) withdrew its support to his government.
• Oli has claimed the Prime Minister’s post with the support of the Left alliance which had garnered a majority victory in the elections held in two phases on November 26 and December 7.
• Maoist Centre and UML are set to merge soon
New Zealand seeks clarity on India’s military ambitionsContext:
• As India expands its influence in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force has sought clarity on a probable military component to India’s ‘Act East’ policy and also queried the objectives of the recently resurrected quadrilateral (Quad)
About India’s Act East Policy:
• India's Act East Policy focuses on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region.
• The objective of ''Act East Policy” is to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationship with countries in the Asia-Pacific region
• AEP provides an interface between North East India including the state of Arunachal Pradesh and the ASEAN region.
• Various plans at bilateral and regional levels include steady efforts to develop and strengthen connectivity of Northeast with the ASEAN region through trade, culture, people-to-people contacts and physical infrastructure
• Some of the major projects include Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project, Rhi-Tiddim Road Project, Border Haats, etc.
About QUAD:
• Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), also known as QUAD is the strategic dialogue between four countries viz. India, United States, Japan and Australia.
• It was originally initiated in 2007 but later disbanded with withdrawal of Australia.
• It has been recently revived and is being viewed as response to increased Chinese economic and military power
‘China quietly holding talks with Baloch militants for CPEC’Context:
• According to a media report, China has been quietly holding talks with Baloch militants in Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province for over five years to protect its $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative.
About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
• The corridor is 3000 km long
• It is aimed at connecting China and Pakistan with rail, road, pipelines and optical cable fiber network.
• It connects China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port, providing access to China to the Arabian Sea.
• The project, when completed, would enable China to pump its oil supplies from the Middle East through pipelines to Xinjiang cutting considerable distance for Chinese ships to travel to China.
Old friends: on India-Iran bilateral tiesContext:
• Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent state visit to India has strengthened the prospects of India-Iran relations
MoUs Signed:
1. Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income.
2. MoU on Exemption from Visa requirement for holders of Diplomatic Passports.
3. Instrument of Ratification of Extradition Treaty.
4. MoU on Cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine.
5. MoU on the establishment of an Expert Group on Trade Remedy Measures to promote. Cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
6. MoU on Cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Allied Sectors.
7. MoU on Cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine.
8. MoU on Postal Cooperation.
9. Lease Contract for Shahid Beheshti Port-Phase 1 of Chabahar during Interim Period between Port and Maritime Organization (PMO), Iran and India Ports Global Limited (IPGL).
Related Facts:
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA):
• It is commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal
• It is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna in 2015
• The agreement is between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union.
Rupee-Rial Arrangement:
• This would allow Indian investors to invest in Iran using Indian rupees.
• Iran will become only the third country, after Bhutan and Nepal, to have such an arrangement with India.
Bank bureau stares at uncertain futureContext:
• The Banks Board Bureau (BBB) is facing an uncertain future with the tenure of its members coming to an end on March 31, 2018.
About Banks Board Bureau (BBB):
• The Banks Board Bureau (BBB) was set up in April 2016, under the government’s Indradanush programme to reform public sector banks.
• The BBB replaced the appointments board
o Give recommendations for appointment of full-time Directors as well as non-Executive Chairman of PSBs.
o Give advice to PSBs in developing differentiated strategies for raising funds through innovative financial methods and instruments and to deal with issues of stressed assets.
o Guide banks on mergers and consolidations.
About Indradanush:
• In 2015, the government launched a seven pronged plan-- Indradhanush--to revamp functioning of public sector banks.
• The seven elements include appointments, board of bureau, capitalisation, de-stressing, and empowerment, framework of accountability and governance reforms.
DVC to start exporting power to BangladeshContext:
• Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) would soon begin exporting power to Bangladesh.
Related facts:
• This is the first time that DVC had won a global tender for cross-border power supply
• DVC would supply power to Bangladesh from January 2020 to May 2033.
• The short-term supply would commence from June 2018 and end in December 2019.
• The line would be commissioned in June 2018
• The power would be evacuated through the 500 MW HVDC transmission line through Baharampur in West Bengal and Behrammara in Bangladesh.
About DVC:
• The Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) is a government organization which operates several power stations in the Damodar River area of West Bengal and Jharkhand states of India
• DVC has an installed capacity of 7,237.2 MW
• DVC supplies power to six States (Karnataka, Kerala, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh), apart from its two holding States (West Bengal and Jharkhand).
Punjab to install micro ATMs in co-op institutions across the StateContext:
• The Punjab government plans to install micro ATMs in all its 3,535 primary agricultural cooperative societies and district central cooperative banks under its rural financial inclusion plan.
About Micro ATMs:
• Micro ATMs are card swipe machines through which banks can remotely connect to their core banking system.
• They are similar to point of sale (PoS) terminals and are a doorstep mobile banking arrangement cum-mobile ATM device.
Cabinet committee clears several rail, road projectsContext:
• The government recently approved several railway projects
Approved Projects:
• Jeypore-Malkangiri new line project
• Jhansi-Manikpur and Bhimsen-Khairar project
• Bhatni-Aurnihar line
• Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel
About Jeypore-Malkangiri new line project:
• It will cover Koraput and Malkangiri of Odisha
About Jhansi-Manikpur and Bhimsen-Khairar project
• It will cover Jhansi, Mahoba, Banda, Chitrakut Dham in Uttar Pradesh and Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh.
About Bhatni-Aurnihar line
• It will cover Deoria, Ballia, Mau and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh.
About Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel
• It is a 4.5 km-long two-lane bi-directional tunnel
• It is a part of ‘Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana’
About Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojna:
• It is an ambitious initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres in the Himalayas.
• The project’s main objective is to develop around 900 km of national highways.
₹11,500 crore fraud rocks state-run PNBContext:
• State-run lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) reported unauthorised transactions worth ₹11,500 crore in one of its branches in south Mumbai.
More in news:
• PNB found that the SWIFT system had been misused by a junior-level branch official, who had fraudulently issued letters of undertaking (LoUs) on behalf of some companies for availing buyer’s credit from overseas branches of Indian banks.
• All the accused have been booked for cheating and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code along with criminal misconduct by a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act
About the SWIFT System:
• The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) provides a network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized and reliable environment.
• It is the world’s largest electronic payment messaging system
About LoU:
• LoU is a bank guarantee generated on behalf of importers for payments abroad.
• Under this arrangement, the issuing bank agrees to unconditionally repay the principal amount and interest thereupon. It remains valid for three months.
About Prevention of Corruption Act:
• The Prevention of Corruption Act is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to combat corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India.
• This law defines who a public servant is and punishes public servants involved in corruption or bribery.
• It also punishes anyone who helps him or her commit the crime
India initiates review of anti-dumping duty on Chinese steel wheel importsContext:
• India has initiated a review of the anti-dumping duty on flat base steel wheels from China.
Related facts:
• The move comes in the backdrop of India’s huge trade deficit with China ($51.1 billion in FY’17).
• India had in 2013 imposed duty up to $613 per tonne on import of the product from China for five years.
• The Directorate General of Anti-dumping and allied Duties (DGAD) has initiated the review investigation.
About Directorate General of Anti-dumping and allied Duties (DGAD):
• The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping & Allied Duties was constituted in April, 1998 and is headed by the Designated Authority of the level of Joint Secretary to the Government of India who is assisted by an Adviser (Cost).
• The Directorate is responsible for carrying out investigations and recommending, where required, under the Customs Tariff Act, the amount of anti-dumping duty
About Dumping:
• As per the World Trade Organisation, if a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market, it is said to be “dumping” the product.
Centre targets industry to save powerContext:
• The Centre, through its company Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), is planning to replicate its success in the LED space in the commercial sector by creating a market for low-cost, energy-efficient motors.
About EESL:
• Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is an energy service company (ESCO) of the Government of India and is the world's largest public ESCO.
• It is a joint venture of state-owned NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID.
• EESL was formed under India's Ministry of Power to facilitate energy efficiency projects.
Trade deficit widens to $16.3bn in Jan.Context:
• According to the data released by the Commerce Ministry India’s goods trade deficit has widened to $16.30 billion in January 2018
More in news:
• The goods trade deficit has widened to $16.30 billion in January 2018 from $9.9 billion in the same month a year ago and $14.88 billion in the previous month owing to imports outpacing exports
• The January trade deficit is a more than three-year high.
• Exports for January went up by 9.07% year-on-year to $24.38 billion.
• However, goods imports rose 26.1% to $40.68 billion.
• Exports have been on a positive trajectory since August 2016 to January 2018 with a dip of 1.1% in the month of October 2017

Government Schemes and Programmes
Rajasthan to come up with vision document on nutritionContext:
National Nutrition Mission(NNM) will be implemented in 24 of the 33 districts of Rajasthan
About NNM:
• The Mission has set the target to reduce stunting from 38.4% as per the National Family Health Survey-4 to 25% by 2022.
• It will cover 235 districts in 2018-19 and the remaining districts in the next two years.
About NNM in Rajasthan:
• A multi-sectoral State consultation, “Nourishing Rajasthan-2022”, has thrown light on the strategies for addressing the issue of under-nutrition and stunting.
• The NNM will be implemented in implemented in 24 of the 33 districts in Rajasthan
• The 24 districts in the State have been selected on the basis of their previous track record and a number of indicators as well as empirical evidence which depicts a high degree of malnutrition among women and children.
• The nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions will be made in Rajasthan in the realms of women and child development, health, food and public distribution, sanitation, drinking water, rural development, livelihoods, education and agriculture.
Not a prescription for the poorContext:
• The National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) is being hailed as the biggest takeaway for the public in 2018 Budget.
About National Health Protection Scheme:
• NHPS (Ayushman Bharat Scheme) seeks to provide health insurance of Rs 5 Lakh to 10 crore poor and vulnerable households.
• Under it, up to Rs 5 lakh insurance cover will be provided to each family per year in secondary and tertiary care institutions.
About the Old Scheme: Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana
• The scheme aims to provide health insurance coverage to the unrecognised sector workers belonging to the BPL category and their family members
• It provides for cashless insurance for hospitalisation in public as well as private hospitals.
Week-long tiger census begins in Odisha todayContext:
• Week-long tiger census in Odhisa will begin on 16th February 2018
About the Census:
• The week-long census that coincides with the national tiger census will be carried out in all forest divisions.
• Both direct and indirect methods will be used to ascertain the status of tigers in the State.
• Unlike earlier, the Odhisa Government has brought the entire Similipal Tiger Reserve, which houses the State’s largest tiger population, under the scope of the census.
About recently conducted Dolphin Census:
• On January 19, a dolphin census was conducted across six coastal divisions of Odhisa
• The number of endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in the Chilika Lake was 114.
• The dolphin population in the State rose to 469 from 450 in 2015.
• A total of 307 dolphins were sighted in the Bhitarakanika National Park.
• Of these, 108 were Indo-Pacific dolphins and 62 were Indian humpbacks.
Brewing higher profits and saving birds on the farmContext:
• According to a recently published research in the journal Scientific Reports, Arabica coffee helps both farmers and wild birds in the Ghats.
About the Study:
• Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS-India) and USA’s Princeton University compared bird diversity in 61 Arabica and Robusta estates across Chikkamagaluru, Hassan and Kodagu districts in Karnataka.
Findings of the Study:
• The plantations supported 79 species of forest-dependent birds in all
• Arabica estates hosted twice the number of endemic birds than Robusta. They also supported more birds that depend on forests, and eat fruits, insects and other food.
• Interviews with 344 coffee-growers showed that Arabica was more profitable, with returns of around Rs. 1 lakh per hectare.
• Robusta plantations also hosted high bird diversity. Robusta farmers in the Western Ghats retain native trees and thus they have been able to preserve the complex canopy structure, setting them apart from others worldwide
Solar alliance biggest win since Paris accord, says PMContext:
• Recently at the inaugural session of the World Sustainable Development Summit, PM Modi has said that the biggest development on tackling climate change since the Paris Accord of 2015 has been the International Solar Alliance.
About International Solar Alliance (ISA):
• The ISA was launched on November 30, 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference
• The ISA aims to mobilise more than $1,000 billion in investments by 2030 for “massive deployment” of solar energy.
• It further aims to pave the way for future technologies adapted to the needs of moving to a fossil-free future and keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C by the end of the century.
• It is the first treaty-based international intergovernmental organisation to be based out of India.
• It has 121 member countries
Guards get modern weapons to fight poachingContext:
• In a major initiative for wildlife protection, the forest guards in Assam were given modern weapons to check poaching of rhinos, tigers and other wild animals.
What is in news?
• Altogether 74 rhinos have been killed by poachers since 2015 and 316 poachers arrested during 2015-17.
• Thus, wildlife fast-track courts have been set up in 10 districts and such courts have been set up for the first time in the country.
• The government launched a new programme – modernisation of arms and equipment for protection, rescue and rehabilitation of rhinos, tigers and other wildlife.
• According to the plan, forest guards were given 954 SLRs, 272 INSAS rifles, 133 rifles of .12 bore, 20 of 9 MM pistols and 91 Ghatak rifles.
Wildlife sanctuaries in Assam:
• Assam has five national parks and 19 wildlife sanctuaries.
• It is home to more than 91% of Indian rhinos (2,431 rhinos as per 2015 census).
• It is also home to 167 tigers, 248 leopards, 1,169 swamp deer besides a large number of wild buffaloes, different varieties of deer and other animals.
Science and Technology
Chandrayaan-II to be launched in AprilContext:
• India’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan-II, which would land a rover on the lunar surface, is expected to be launched in April this year.
Related Fact
• Chandrayaan-I discovered water on the moon and this will mission will be an extension of that.
About Chandrayaan II:
• Chandrayaan-II would cost about Rs. 800 crore.
• It has three components: an orbiter, a lander and a moon rover.
• The orbiter had a life of one year while the lander and the rover were designed to last a lunar day, which was 14 days, as they worked on solar power.
• A location had been identified at the Moon’s South Pole to drop the lander and rover.
Vaccines can prevent TB infections in adolescentsContext:
• A clinical trial has provided encouraging new evidence that TB vaccines can prevent sustained infections in high-risk adolescents.
Subunit vaccine
• In the Phase 2 trial conducted in South Africa, revaccination with the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine significantly reduced sustained TB infections in adolescents.
• An experimental vaccine candidate, H4:IC31, also reduced sustained infections, although not at statistically significant levels.
• The trend observed for H4:IC31 is the first time a subunit vaccine has shown any indication of ability to protect against TB infection.
World Health Organisation data on TB:
• TB is the world’s leading cause of death from an infectious disease
• According to the World Health Organisation, about one-third of the world’s population has latent TB infection, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.
• People infected with TB bacteria have a lifetime risk of falling ill with TB of 10%.
• People ill with TB can infect 10-15 other people through close contact over the course of a year.
• Without proper treatment, 45% of HIV-negative people with TB on average and nearly all HIV-positive people with TB will die.
Experts urge more funds to tackle Tuberculosis crisisContext:
• At the opening day of the 5the Global Forum on TB Vaccines in New Delhi, Health Ministry assured the TB community that eliminating the disease by 2025 had the ‘highest level of commitment from the PM office.
Statistics on TB in India:
• Nearly 4.2 lakh Indians die of the disease every year
• Out of the 10 million cases globally, India shoulders the maximum burden with 2.8 million cases.
• According to Health Ministry data, only 63% of the patients infected with the airborne disease are currently under treatment.
• Further, 1, 47,000 patients are resistant to first and second line TB medicines.
• At the current rate of progress, global targets to eliminate TB by 2030 will be missed by a 150 years.
Disaster Management
Funds push for project to benefit desert areasContext:
• A new loan agreement for water sector is set to benefit the desert areas in Rajasthan through restructuring of Indira Gandhi Canal and formulation of flood management systems for the Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and Ghaggar rivers.
About the Agreement:
• The agreement has been signed with New Development Bank.
• The release of 1,000 crore as first instalment of a loan worth 3,300 crore, was signed.
• The loan amount of second phase will be released in April, followed by the release of subsequent instalments to match the project’s implementation.
About the Indira Gandhi Canal:
• The canal is 650 km long and starts from the Harike Barrage, a few kilometres below the confluence of the Sutlej and Beas rivers in Punjab.
• It flows through Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan, with the major length of the canal flowing through Rajasthan.
• The canal terminates near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan
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