Oct. 31, 2019

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

LYMPHATIC FILARIASIS
Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurates National Symposium on the theme ‘United to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis.’

About:

  • Lymphatic filariasis (LF), commonly known as elephantiasis or Hathipaon, is a neglected tropical disease.

  • Cause: LF disease is caused mainly by Wuchereria Bancrofti and spread by Culex mosquito. This mosquito grows in dirty accumulated water. Infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. The infection is usually acquired in childhood, causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.

  • Effect: LF does not kill the affected people, but may cause permanent disfigurement, reduced productivity and social stigma.

  • Vulnerable groups: The disease affects the poorest population in society, particularly those living in areas with poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

  • Global scenario: It is one of the oldest and most debilitating neglected disease, which is currently endemic in 73 countries of the world, including India.

  • The Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) was launched by the World Health Organization in 2000.

  • Government of India launched the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) in 2018. By the end of February 2019, India successfully rolled out IDA treatment across 4 districts including Arwal in Bihar, Simdega in Jharkhand, Nagpur in Maharashtra and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. 

Source : PIB
Health

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

PENSION FUND REGULATORY AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (PFRDA)
PFRDA has now permitted Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) to enroll in National Pension Scheme (NPS) at par with Non-Resident Indians.

About:

  • An OCI may subscribe to the National Pension System governed and administered by PFRDA, provided such person is eligible to invest as per the provisions of the PFRDA Act and the annuity/accumulated saving will be repatriable, subject to FEMA guidelines.

  • Contributions made towards NPS are eligible for an additional tax deduction under section 80CCD(1B) upto Rs. 50,000 which is over and above the Rs 1,50,000 limit of deduction available under sec 80CCD(1). 

Important Info :

About PFRDA?

  • PFRDA is the statutory Authority established by an enactment of the Parliament, to regulate, promote and ensure orderly growth of the National Pension System (NPS) and pension schemes to which this Act applies.
  • NPS was initially notified for central government employees joining service on or after 1st Jan 2004 and subsequently adopted by almost all State Governments for its employees. NPS was extended to all citizens of Indian on voluntary basis from 2009 and to corporates in 2011 and to Non-Resident Indians in 2015.
Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

NATIONAL HEALTH PROFILE (NHP), 2019
Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan released the 14th National Health Profile (NHP), 2019 and its e-book in New Delhi.

About:

  • The NHP is prepared by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI).

  • This 14th edition of NHP is the continuation of the publication since 2005.

  • It covers comprehensive information on demographic, socio-economic health status, health finance indicators, health infrastructure and health of human resources in the country.

  • The NHP highlights substantial health information under major indicators viz.
    • demographic indicators (population and vital statistics),

    • socio-economic indicators (education, employment, housing and amenities, drinking water and sanitation) and

    • health status indicators (incidence and prevalence of common communicable and non-communicable diseases and RCH) etc.



Source : All India Radio
Health

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

RISING SEA LEVEL IN INDIA & WORLD
According to a research published in Nature Communications, the number of people in India threatened by rising sea-levels is at least seven times more than previously estimated.

About:

  • Researchers of Climate Central, an independent organisation of climate scientists, have developed a new tool that measures elevation of land from mean sea levels with much greater accuracy than earlier models.

  • Their new tool, called CoastalDEM (or Coastal Digital Elevation Model), which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning on 51 million data samples, brought down this error to less than 2.5 inches on an average.

Key findings:

  • Around 300 million people, and not 80 million as estimated earlier, across the globe were currently living in areas that were below the annual coastal flood line.

  • Almost 80 per cent of these 300 million people live in China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. China alone accounted for 43 million.

  • Around 36 million people along the Indian coastlines currently live on land that will fall below the annual flood level by 2050, exposing them to risks of flooding, damage to infrastructure, loss of livelihood, or permanent displacement. The previous estimate was of 5 million people.

  • West Bengal and coastal Odisha are projected to be particularly vulnerable, as is the eastern city of Kolkata.

  • Except for some areas near Kakinada, the threats to the coastlines of the southern states have not been affected by the new measurements. 

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

BEST PERFORMING CEOs IN THE WORLD, 2019
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) released 'The Best-Performing CEOs in the World, 2019', a list featuring top 100 Chief Executive Officer (CEOs) in the world.

About:

  • Since 2015, HBR’s ranking has been based not only on financial performance but also on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings.

  • The HBR took into account three metrics for each CEO's tenure - the total shareholder return (including dividends reinvested) adjusted by country and by industry and change in market capitalisation (adjusted for dividends, share issues, and share repurchases), measured in inflation-adjusted USD.

Key Findings:

  • the list has been topped by American technology company NVIDIA's CEO Jensen Huang.

  • Among the top 10 chief executives on the list, three spots have been occupied by the Indian-origin CEOs. On the 6th spot is Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, followed by MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, ranked 7th and Microsoft chief Satya Nadella on the 9th spot.

  • The list also features India-born CEO of DBS Bank Piyush Gupta on the 89th spot.

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has been the top CEO every year since 2014 on the basis of financial performance alone, failed to make this year's list owing to Amazon's relatively low ESG scores.

Source : Times of India
Economy

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

POLITICAL ADVERTISING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Twitter will ban all political advertising worldwide from 22nd November.

About:

  • The new policy, details of which will be unveiled next month, would ban ads on political issues as well as from candidates.

  • This is in response to growing criticism over misinformation from politicians on social media.

  • Explaining the ban, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that while internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics. he said the reach of political messages should be earned, not bought.

  • News of the ban has divided America's political camps for the 2020 election.

  • Twitter's rival Facebook recently ruled out a ban on political ads. 

Source : All India Radio
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE MOVEMENT
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has refused to accept an environmental award saying that the climate movement needed people to start to listen to science and not awards.

About:

  • The young climate activist, who has rallied millions to her Fridays for Future movement, was honoured at a Stockholm ceremony held by the Nordic Council, a regional body for inter-parliamentary cooperation.

  • Still only 16 years old, Thunberg rose to prominence after she started spending her Fridays outside Sweden’s parliament in August 2018, holding a sign reading “School strike for climate”.

Important Info :

Fridays for Future (FFF)?

  • Fridays for Future (FFF) is also known variously as the school strike for the climate, Youth for Climate, Climate Strike, Youth Strike for Climate.
  • It is an international movement of school students who take time off from class to participate in demonstrations to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change.
  • Publicity and widespread organising began after Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg staged a protest in August 2018 outside the Swedish Riksdag, holding a sign that read "School strike for the climate". A global strike on 15 March 2019 gathered more than one million strikers.
  • In June 2019, Fridays for Future and Greta Thunberg were honoured with Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience award. 
Source : All India Radio
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

FUTURE INVESTMENT INITIATIVE (FII)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a visit to Riyadh to attend the Future Investment Initiative (FII), an international event from October 29 to 31.

About: 

  • The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is an annual investment forum held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

  • It is held to discuss trends in the world economy and investment environment in the context of the Saudi Vision 2030 program of economic and social reform to diversify the kingdom’s economy and reduce its dependence on petroleum products.

  • The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is widely described as “Davos in the desert”. The informal name derives from the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting that is held in Davos, Switzerland, where world leaders discuss agendas for pressing international issues.

  • It is hosted by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF), Saudi Arabia's main sovereign wealth fund.

  • The first event was in October 2017 and featured the announcements of the launch of NEOM, a proposed $500bn independent economic zone in the northwest of Saudi Arabia. The second event was in October 2018. The third event is being held on 29-31 October 2019.

Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

INDIA – SAUDI ARABIA RELATIONS
During the visit of Indian Prime Minister Modi to Saudi Arabia, the two sides have agreed to establish a Strategic Partnership Council to coordinate on important issues, taking the bilateral relationship to the next level.

About:

  • The Council will be an all encompassing bilateral mechanism which will cover an entire spectrum of relationship between the two countries.

  • It will be headed by the top leadership on either side.

  • The two sides re-affirmed their deep commitment to strengthen the strategic partnership envisaged in the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ of 2010.

List of MoUs/Agreements signed during the visit of Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia

  1. Strategic Partnership Council Agreement

  2. MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Renewable Energy

  3. Agreement on Security Cooperation

  4. MoU for Cooperation in the field of combating illicit trafficking and smuggling of narcotic drugs.

  5. MoU for collaboration in military acquisition, industries, research, development and technology

  6. MoU for Cooperation in the field of Civil Aviation

  7. MoU for Cooperation in the field of medical products regulations

  8. Letter of Intent between Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, of the Republic of India

  9. Cooperation Programme between Foreign Service Institute, MEA and Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies (IDS) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia

  10. MoU between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) and Saudi Aramco.

  11. MoU for Cooperation between National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul)

  12. MoU between National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Saudi Payments

Source : All India Radio
International

Current Affairs
Oct. 31, 2019

VYAS SAMMAN
The 28th Vyas Samman for the year 2018 was conferred on well known Hindi writer Leeladhar Jagoori for his poetry collection- Jitne Log Utne Prem.

About: 

  • The Vyas Samman was started in 1991.

  • it is given by K K Birla Foundation.

  • it is given for an outstanding literary work in Hindi authored by an Indian citizen published during the last 10 years.

  • It carries an award money of four lakh rupees along with a citation and plaque.

Source : All India Radio
Awards

Oct. 30, 2019

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA (CJI)
President of India Ramnath Kovind formally announced that Sharad Arvind Bobde will be India’s next Chief Justice Of India (CJI).

About:

  • Justice Bobde will be India’s 47th CJI. Justice Bobde will take oath on November 18 after the incumbent CJI Ranjan Gogoi retires from office.

  • He has been chosen following the rule of seniority and his name was recommended by CJI Gogoi in a letter to the Centre.

  • His tenure as CJI will last for 17 months and he is due to retire in April 2021. 

Important Info :
  • Appointment of CJI: Article 124 of the Constitution of India provides for the manner of appointing judges to the Supreme Court (SC). But there is no specific provision in the Constitution for appointing the Chief Justice.
    • CJI should be the senior most judge of the Supreme Court (SC). Law Minister to seek recommendation of the outgoing CJI for appointment of new CJI at an appropriate time.
    • In case of doubt about the fitness of the senior-most Judge to hold office of CJI consultation with other Judges under Article 124(2) to be made.
    • Law Minister to put up recommendation to Prime Minister (PM) who will advise the President on appointment.
  • Seniority at the apex court is determined not by age, but by:
    • The date a judge was appointed to the SC.
    • If two judges are elevated to the Supreme Court on the same day, (1) the one who was sworn in first as a judge would trump another; (2) if both were sworn in as judges on the same day, the one with more years of high court service would ‘win’ in the seniority stakes; (3) an appointment from the bench would ‘trump’ in seniority an appointee from the bar.
  • Tenure:
    • Once appointed, the Chief Justice remains in office until the age of 65 years.
    • Article 124(4) of Constitution of India provides that a SC Judge including CJI can be moved only through a process of impeachment by Parliament. 
Source : Indian Express
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

EDGE COMPUTING
Nvidia, one of the biggest players in the manufacture of AI acceleration hardware, has just announced its EGX edge computing platform to help telecom operators adopt 5G networks capable of supporting edge workloads. According to the global research firm Gartner, by 2025, companies will generate and process more than 75% of their data at the “edge” of the cloud.

About:

  • Edge computing enables data to be analysed, processed, and transferred at the edge of a network.

  • The idea is to analyse data locally, closer to where it is stored, in real-time without latency, rather than send it far away to a centralised data centre.

  • Experts believe the true potential of edge computing will become apparent when 5G networks go mainstream in a year from now. Users will be able to enjoy consistent connectivity without even realising it. 

Important Info :

Edge Computing vs Cloud Computing:

  • The basic difference between edge computing and cloud computing lies in where the data processing takes place. At the moment, the existing Internet of Things (IoT) systems perform all of their computations in the cloud using data centres.
  • Edge computing, on the other hand, essentially manages the massive amounts of data generated by IoT devices by storing and processing data locally. That data doesn’t need to be sent over a network as soon as it processed; only important data is sent — therefore, an edge computing network reduces the amount of data that travels over the network. 
Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

EMPLOYMENT IN INDIA
A new study, commissioned by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), and undertaken by Laveesh Bhandari of Indicus Foundation and Amaresh Dubey of Jawaharlal Nehru University, has highlighted the broad trends for employment in India between 2004 and 2018.

About:

  • A key feature of this study is that instead of focusing on unemployment, it focuses only on the “employment” data.

  • It does so by looking at three comparable surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) — the Employment-Unemployment Surveys (EUS) of 2004-05 and 2011-12, and the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of 2017-18.

Main findings of the study:

  • The total employment in the country grew by 4.5 crore in the 13 years between EUS 2004-05 and PLFS 2017-18. This represents a growth of just 0.8 per cent — less than half the rate at which the overall population grew, which was 1.7 per cent.

  • Of the 4.5 crore increase in employment, 4.2 crore happened in the urban areas while rural employment either contracted (by 0.01 per cent between 2004 and 2011) or was stagnant (grew by 0.18 per cent between 2011 and 2017).

  • Male employment grew by 6 crore but female employment fell by 1.5 crore.

  • Youth employment (those between the ages of 15 and 24) has fallen from 8.14 crore in 2004 to 5.34 crore in 2017. However, employment in the 25-59 age group and the 60 years and above group has gone up.

  • The share of organised sector in the total employed has risen from 8.9 per cent in 2004 to 14 per cent in 2017. The share of unorganised sector in the total employed has gone up from 37.1 per cent in 2004 to 47.7 per cent in 2017.

  • Both these sectors – Organised and Unorganised – have grown at the expense of the agri-cropping sector, where employment has fallen from 21.9 per cent in 2004 to 17.4 per cent in 2017. In essence, those who are poor, illiterate, and unskilled are increasingly losing out on jobs. 

Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

GILL-OXYGEN LIMITATION THEORY (GOLT)
In a new research paper, Scientists have explained the biological reasons why fish species will shift towards the poles due to impact of climate change. Scientists have described this with the Gill-Oxygen Limitation Theory (GOLT).

About: 

  • According to Gill-Oxygen Limitation Theory (GOLT), warming waters have less oxygen. Therefore, fish have difficulties breathing in such environments. Additionally, such warming, low-oxygen waters also increase fish’s oxygen demands because their metabolism speeds up.

  • This is because, as fish grow, their demand for oxygen increases. However, the surface area of the gills (two-dimensional) does not grow at the same pace as the rest of the body (three-dimensional). The larger the fish, the smaller its surface area relative to the volume of its body.

  • So, the fish move to waters whose temperatures resemble those of their original habitats and that satisfy their oxygen needs.

  • As the global sea surface temperature has increased by approximately 0.13°C per decade over the past 100 years, “suitable” waters are more and more found towards the poles and at greater depths.

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

SENTINEL-3 WORLD FIRE ATLAS
Citing data from its Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas, the European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that compared to August 2018, there were almost five times as many wildfires across the world in August 2019.

About the prototype

  • Sentinel-3 is an Earth observation satellite constellation developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of the Copernicus Programme.

  • The Sentinel-3 World Fires Atlas Prototype product has been developed by ESA over the southern countries of the ESA member states.

  • it aims to provide continuity to ESA ATSR World Fire Atlas (operating from June 1995 to March 2012) taking on board all the improvements of Sentinel-3 SLSTR instrument.

Key findings:

  • The ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission recorded 79,000 fires in August this year, compared to just over 16,000 fires detected during the same period last year.

  • The data revealed that 49% of the fires were detected in Asia, around 28% were detected in South America, 16% in Africa, and the remaining were recorded in North America, Europe and Oceania. 

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

ORGANOID
Two neuroscientists have warned that fellow scientists are “perilously close” to crossing the ethical red line of growing mini-brains or organoids in the laboratory that can perceive or feel things.

About:

  • Organoids are a group of cells grown in laboratories into three-dimensional, miniature structures that mimic the cell arrangement of a fully-grown organ.

  • They are tiny (typically the size of a pea) organ-like structures that do not achieve all the functional maturity of human organs but often resemble the early stages of a developing tissue.

  • Organoids are grown in the laboratory using stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). Stem cells are provided with nutrients and other specific molecules to grow and become cells resembling a specific organ.

  • Present status: Organoids of the brain, small intestine, kidney, heart, stomach, eyes, liver, pancreas, prostate, salivary glands, and inner ear to name a few have already been developed in the laboratory.

  • Benefits: Since the organoids closely resemble mature tissues, they can be used for studying the complex arrangements of cells in three-dimension and their function in detail, and understanding how cells assemble into organs. Organoids can be used to study the safety and efficacy of new drugs

  • Arguments against: Organoids do not have sensory inputs and sensory connections from the brain are limited. Isolated regions of the brain cannot communicate with other brain regions or generate motor signals. Thus, the possibility of consciousness or other higher-order perceptive properties emerging seems extremely remote. 

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

MELBOURNE MERCER GLOBAL PENSION INDEX (MMGPI) 2019
According to the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI) 2019, India has marginally improved its ranking to 32nd position in terms of providing pension and retirement benefits to citizens compared to last year.

About:

  • The MMGPI, which covers 37 countries, is based on how they fare on providing pension and retirement benefits to citizens across different income groups.

  • India stood at 32nd position in 2019 out of 37 countries, while it was ranked at 33rd place in 2018 out of 34 countries in the list. The country’s score in the MMGPI 2019 rose to 45.8 from 44.6 last year. India’s index value increased largely due to the improvement in all three sub-indices of adequacy, sustainability and integrity.

  • In the overall list, the Netherlands had the highest index value (81.0), while Thailand had the lowest value (39.4).

  • Sub-index wise, Ireland had the highest score for adequacy (81.5), Denmark for sustainability (82.0) and Finland for integrity (92.3). Thailand scored the lowest for adequacy (35.8), Italy for sustainability (19.0) and Philippines for integrity (34.7). 

Source : Times of India
Economy

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

ROLE OF MOUNTAIN STREAMS IN CARBON CYCLE
Scientists have reported the findings of the first large-scale study of the carbon dioxide emissions of mountain streams, and their role in global carbon fluxes (the carbon exchanged between various carbon pools on Earth).

Key findings: 

  • The international study led by Switzerland-based research institute École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

  • Mountain streams have a higher average carbon dioxide emission rate per square metre than streams at lower altitudes, due in part to the additional turbulence caused as water flows down slopes.

  • Mountain streams account for 5% in the global surface area of fluvial networks. 10%-30% is the share of mountain streams in carbon dioxide emissions from all fluvial networks.

  • The findings indicate that the carbon dioxide comes from geological sources. The result shows importance of including mountain streams in assessments of the global carbon cycle.

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

NATIONAL PANCHAYAT AWARDS 2019; GRAM MANCHITRA
Union Minister for Panchayati Raj conferred the National Panchayat Awards 2019 on the 240 panchayats. He also launched Spatial Planning Application ‘Gram Manchitra.’

National Panchayat Awards 2019 were given under the following categories:

  1. Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar (DDUPSP): given to best performing Panchayats (District, Intermediate and Gram) in recognition of the good work done for improving delivery of services and public goods such as Sanitation, Social Sector Performance, Disaster Management, Innovation in revenue generation, e-Governance etc.

  2. Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar (NDRGGSP): Given to Gram Panchayats (GPs) for their outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development by involving Gram Sabhas.

  3. Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) Award: It is conferred to best performing Gram Panchayats (GPs) across the country which have developed their GPDPs according to the State/UT specific guidelines.

  4. Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award: This award is given for best performing GPs/Village Councils (VCs) (one in each State/UT) for adopting child-friendly practices.

  5. e-Panchayat Puraskar: The main aim of this award is to incentivize those States/UTs, which have made dedicated efforts in adopting and implementing the e-Panchayat Applications and enabling electronic delivery of services through Panchayats & equivalent rural bodies.

Gram Manchitra:

  • The Minister also launched a Spatial Planning Application called ‘Gram Manchitra’ which is a Geo Spatial based decision support system for the panchayats.

  • The panchayats can utilize this App to plan, develop and monitor developmental activities on real time basis. 

Source : PIB
Awards and Recognitions

Current Affairs
Oct. 30, 2019

NATIONAL DHANWANTARI AYURVEDA AWARD
Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India celebrated Ayurveda Day on 25th October, 2019 on the day of Dhanvantari Jayanti (Dhanteras). On this occasion, Ministry also facilitated Ayurveda experts with "National Dhanwantari Ayurveda Award."

National Ayurveda Day: 

  • Objectives of Ayurveda Day: Create a sense of awareness about Ayurvedic principles of healing in society in today's generation.

  • Date of Celebration: It is celebrated every year on the occasion of Dhanwantari Jayanti (Dhanteras) since 2016.
    • Lord Dhanvantari is considered as divine propagator of Ayurveda.

    • He is conferred with the virtues of granting health and wealth. Therefore, Dhanvantari Jayanti was preferred for celebration of Ayurveda Day.



National Dhanwantari Ayurveda Award:

  • The award instituted by Ministry of AYUSH is conferred every year on the Ayurveda Day.

  • It is conferred on Ayurveda experts possessing qualifications included in II, III, IV schedule of IMCC Act, 1970 and having profound contribution to the field of Ayurveda.

  • A cash prize of Rs. 5 lacs along with citation are given to the awardees.

Source : PIB
Awards and Recognitions

Oct. 29, 2019

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

THE UNITED NATIONS’ UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION (UPU)
In a unilateral decision, Pakistan has stopped exchange of postal mails with India since August 27. Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said Pakistan’s decision was taken “without any prior notice” and “in direct contravention of international norms.

About: 

  • Type: The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). 

  • Functions: It coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. It frames rules for international mail exchange, and fixes rates for international postal services. It regulates 6.40 lakh postal outlets worldwide. 

  • Membership: The UPU has 192 member-countries. 

  • Headquarters: Bern, Switzerland. 

  • Timeline: it was established by the Treaty of Bern in India joined the UPU on July 1, 1876 and Pakistan on November 10, 1947. 

  • The UPU has four units: the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB). 

  • Under UPU rules, when a country decides to suspend exchange with a country, it must notify the operator of the other country (in India’s case, India Post) and, if possible, the duration for which services are being stopped. The UPU’s International Bureau too has to be notified. 

Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

OPERATION KAYLA MUELLER / BARISHA RAID
On 27 October 2019, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself and three children by detonating a suicide vest during the Barisha raid conducted by the Delta Force, in Syria's northwestern Idlib Province, according to a statement by President Donald Trump.

About:

  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (1971 – 2019) was the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant terrorist organisation.

  • In 2014, the ISIS announced the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. Al-Baghdadi was named its caliph, to be known as "Caliph Ibrahim".

  • He was designated by the United States Department of State as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

Operation Kayla Mueller / Barisha raid

  • The Barisha raid was a United States military operation in Barisha, Idlib Governorate, in northwestern Syria targeting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leadership, notably its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on October 26-27, 2019.

  • The special forces raid was officially code-named Operation Kayla Mueller after the American humanitarian worker who was held captive, tortured, and sexually abused by Baghdadi before her death in 2015.

  • According to U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump, Baghdadi killed himself when he detonated a suicide belt. 

Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

IK ONKAR
In a unique gesture to mark 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji, Air India has depicted Sikh religious symbol 'Ik Onkar' on the tail of one of its aircraft.

About: 

  • Ik Onkar is the symbol that represents the unity of God in Sikhism, meaning God is One or One God. 

  • It is a central tenet of Sikh religious philosophy. It is the opening phrase of the Mul Mantar and the opening words of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It is consequently also part of the Sikh morning prayer, Japji Sahib. 

  • It is found in the Gurmukhi script and is found in all religious scriptures and places such as gurdwaras. 

  • It is a combination of two characters, the numeral ੧, Ikk (one) and the first letter of the word Onkar (Constant taken to mean God). 

Source : All India Radio
Culture

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

CARBON CAPTURE
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have developed a new technology to capture carbon dioxide from a stream of air, virtually at any concentration level.

Working: 

  • While most methods of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of gas required higher concentrations such as those found in the flue emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants, the new method could take out the gas even when it was present in very low concentrations.

  • The device is a large, specialized battery with a stack of electrodes that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air passing over its surface as it was being charged up, and then released the gas as it was being discharged.

  • A chemical reaction takes place at the surface of each of a stack of electrodes as the battery charges. Electrodes are coated with a compound called polyanthraquinone compounded with carbon nanotubes.

  • The electrodes have a natural affinity for carbon dioxide and readily reacted with its molecules in the airstream or feed gas. The device operates at room temperature and normal air pressure.

Important Info :

Significance:

  • The advantage of this technology over other carbon capture or carbon absorbing technologies is the binary nature of the adsorbent's affinity to carbon dioxide. The new system is energy efficient compared to existing methods -- consistently using about one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured.
  • This advance that may pave the way for new strategies to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.
Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

ELECTORAL REFORMS
On the recommendation of the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Central Government has amended the Rules to facilitate the process of postal ballot paper for Absentee voters of essential services, Senior citizens of more than 80 years and marked PwD electors.

Salient features of these amendments are as follows:

  • A concept of ‘absentee voter’ has been introduced and defined for the elections;

  • ‘Absentee voter’ means a person belonging to such class of persons as may be notified, under clause (c) of section 60 of the Act, and who is employed in essential services as mentioned in the said notification, and includes an elector belonging to the class of senior citizen or persons with disability [rule 27 A (aa)];

  • ‘Person with Disability’ means a person flagged as person with disability in the data base for the electoral roll;

  • ‘Senior Citizen’ for the purpose of this Part means an elector belonging to the class of absentee voters and is above 80 years of age;

  • In case of an absentee voter, the application shall be made in Form 12D, and shall contain such particulars as specified therein, and shall be duly verified by the Nodal Officer for the absentee voter, other than senior citizen or persons with disability, which shall reach the Returning Officer within five days following the date of notification of election;

  • In the case of absentee voter, postal ballot paper shall be returned to the centre provided for recording of vote under sub-rule(3) of rule 27F, subject to any direction that may be issued by the Election Commission in this behalf.

Source : Times of India
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

EXERCISE SHAKTI-2019
Indo-French Joint Exercise Shakti-2019 will be conducted from 31 October 2019 to 13 November 2019 at Foreign Training Node at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges, Rajasthan.

About: 

  • Series of  'Exercise SHAKTI' between Indian and France commenced in year 2011.

  • It’s a biennial exercise and  is conducted alternately in India and France.

  • As part of Exercise SHAKTI – 2019, a contingent of the Sikh Regiment of Sapta Shakti Command will represent Indian Army in this exercise. The French Army delegation will be represented by troops of 21st Marine Infantry Regiment  of 6th Armoured Brigade.

  • The joint exercise will focus on Counter Terrorism operations in backdrop of semi-desert terrain under United Nations Mandate. The training will focus primarily on high degree of physical fitness, sharing of drill at tactical level and learning of best practices from each other.

Source : PIB
International

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

NELLOPTODES GRETAE
A tiny species of beetle discovered more than 50 years ago has been named after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

About:

  • Scientists at the Natural History Museum in London have officially called the insect Nelloptodes gretae to honour the 16-year-old Swedish activist’s “outstanding contribution” in raising global awareness of climate change.

  • The arthropod, which has no eyes or wings, is less than 1mm long and belongs to the Ptiliidae family, which is made up of some of the world’s smallest beetles.

  • The beetle was first found in 1965 by British naturalist Dr William C Block in Nairobi, Kenya.

  • Biological names comprise two words, one for the genus and the second for the species. Traditionally, it is the species name that scientists coin to honour a prominent personality.

  • While the species name gretae derives from Greta, the genus Nelloptodes too is a new genus. 

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

DOXXING
A court in Hong Kong has issued a temporary order, in effect until November 8, banning the practice of ‘doxxing’.

About: 

  • Doxxing (also spelt as ‘doxing’) means to publicly identify or publish private information about someone, especially with the intention of punishing or taking revenge.

  • Doxxing first emerged as hacker slang for obtaining and posting private documents about an individual, usually a rival or enemy. To hackers, who prized their anonymity, doxxing was considered a cruel attack.

  • In Hong Kong, protesters have been releasing information about police officers and their families, thereby opening them up to targeted violence or harassment and abuse, either physically or online.

  • Doxxing has emerged as one of the major tactics employed by pro-democracy protesters who have been carrying out relentless, sometimes violent, demonstrations that the administration has found impossible to suppress for over four months now.

Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

ULURU
From October 26, 2019, climbing Uluru, Australia’s famous desert rock, considered sacred by the local Anangu people, has been banned.

About: 

  • Uluru is also known as Ayers Rock.

  • It is a large sandstone rock formation. It is dominantly composed of coarse-grained arkose (a type of sandstone characterised by an abundance of feldspar) and some conglomerate. Average composition is 50% feldspar, 25–35% quartz and up to 25% rock fragments.

  • It is located in central Australia.

  • It is sacred to the Anangu people, the Aboriginal people of the area.

  • It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • It is notable for appearing to change colour at different times of the day and year, most notably when it glows red at dawn and sunset.

  • Uluru is an inselberg, literally "island mountain". An inselberg is a prominent isolated residual knob or hill that rises abruptly from and is surrounded by extensive and relatively flat erosion lowlands in a hot, dry region.

  • The remarkable feature of Uluru is its homogeneity and lack of jointing and parting at bedding surfaces, leading to the lack of development of scree slopes and soil. These characteristics led to its survival, while the surrounding rocks were eroded.

Source : Indian Express
Geography

Current Affairs
Oct. 29, 2019

INS BAAZ
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh visited INS Baaz, the southernmost air station of the Indian Armed Forces and spent a day with personnel stationed there.

About: 

  • The Indian Naval Ship (INS) ‘Baaz’ was commissioned in July 2012.

  • It is the southernmost air station of the Indian Armed Forces. INS Baaz is located at Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar island, the southernmost and largest island of the Nicobar islands, in the UT of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This island is also the location of the Indira Point.

  • The primary functions of the INS Baaz include helping build Maritime Domain Awareness by providing information via airborne surveillance using aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

  • Significance: The location has been described as India’s “window into East and Southeast Asia”, and is in close vicinity of the Six Degree Channel, one of the Indian Ocean’s busiest shipping lines, carrying strategic cargo to East Asian countries. It is also close to the Strait of Malacca.

  • It is a part of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-services formation of the Indian Armed Forces that was started in 2001.

Source : Indian Express
Defence & Security

Oct. 26, 2019

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

RTI RULES
The Ministry of Personnel notified the Right to Information (Term of Office, Salaries, Allowances and Other Terms and Conditions of Service of Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commissioners and State Information Commissioners) Rules, 2019.

About:

  • The rules have reduced the tenure of Information Commissioners from five years to three.

  • It give the government the discretion to decide on “conditions of service” for which no express provisions are made in the rules.

  • The Chief Information Commissioner’s salary has been fixed at ₹2.5 lakh and an Information Commissioner’s at ₹2.25 lakh.

Important Info :

Opposition to rules: 

  • According to activists, the rules had been drafted and promulgated in violation of the procedures laid down in the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy of 2014.
  • The policy requires all draft rules to be placed in the public domain for comments/suggestions of people. The draft was not available in the public domain and no consultations were held with members of the public.
  • The changes would affect the independence of ‘Information Commissions who will function like caged parrots.’
Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

LEBANON
On October 17, the Lebanese government proposed a plan to tax calls made through the internet and other similar services.

About:

  • Voice Over IP (VoIP) calls in Lebanon would be charged at 20 cents everyday, from January 2020 onwards, which totals to $6 per month. These VoIP services include calls made through Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype and Viber.

  • While the proposal has since then been withdrawn, if it were to pass, Lebanon would be the first country in the world to do so. The move, however, has triggered mass anti-government protests in the West Asian country.

Important Info :

Lebanon?

  • Lebanon is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus is west across the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Capital: Beirut.
Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

COSMIC YETI
Astronomers accidentally discovered the footprints of a monster galaxy in the early universe that has never been seen before.

About: 

  • Like a cosmic Yeti, the scientific community generally regarded these galaxies as folklore, given the lack of evidence of their existence, but astronomers in the United States and Australia managed to snap a picture of the beast for the first time.

  • Published in the Astrophysical Journal, the discovery provides new insights into the first growing steps of some of the biggest galaxies in the universe.

  • The researchers estimate that the signal came from so far away that it took 12.5 billion years to reach Earth, therefore giving us a view of the universe in its infancy.

  • They think the observed emission is caused by the warm glow of dust particles heated by stars forming deep inside a young galaxy. The giant clouds of dust conceal the light of the stars themselves, rendering the galaxy completely invisible.

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

GLOBAL BURDEN OF DISEASE STUDY 2017 FOR PANCREATIC CANCER
The Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 for pancreatic cancer was published in The Lancet.

Key findings of the study: 

  • Pancreatic cancer, once rare, is now a growing cause of cancer mortality worldwide. From 1,96,000 incidences in 1990, these rose to 4,41,000 in 2017.

  • The burden of pancreatic cancer is higher in higher income countries. In both 1990 and 2017, the highest age-standardised death rates due to cancer were recorded in Greenland and Uruguay. On the other hand, the lowest age-standardised death rates were in Bangladesh.

  • For India, the death rate due to pancreatic has increased by over five times, from 6,887 in 1990 to 30,426 in 2017, while incidence has increased from 6,824 cases to 29,059. The number of years lost due to ill-health in India were 1,826,77 in 1990 and 7,17,037 in 2017.

  • Bhutan had the least incidents and deaths in the South Asian region. 

Important Info :

The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach in the upper left abdomen. it has two main functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar. 

Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

OPEN GENERAL EXPORT LICENCES (OGELs)
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved issuance of two Open General Export Licences (OGELs) for export of certain parts and components and intra-company transfer of technology to select countries. The decision will give a boost to defence exports.

About:

  • Following a demand by the exporters, the DPP held extensive consultations with various stakeholders and formulated this OGEL policy and submitted for Defence Minister’s approval.

  • The OGEL is a one-time export licence to be granted to a company for a specific period which is two years initially.

  • The application for grant of OGEL will be considered by Department of Defence Production (DPP) on a case-to-case basis.

  • For acquiring the licences, the applicant is mandatory to have Import-Export certificate.

  • The items permitted under OGEL includes components of ammunition and fuse setting device without energetic and explosive material, firing control and related ing and warning equipment and related system and body protective items.

  • Complete aircraft or complete unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and any components specially designed or modified for UAVs are excluded under this licence.

  • The countries allowed under the OGELs are: Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA, Canada, Italy, Poland and Mexico. Export of items to a Special Economic Zone is not permitted.

Source : All India Radio
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

NATIONAL CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AWARDS (NCSRA)
The President of India will present the National Corporate Social Responsibility Awards (NCSRA) to select companies for their outstanding contribution in area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on 29th October, 2019 in New Delhi.

About:

  • The National CSR Awards are the highest recongnisation in the domain of CSR by the Government of India.

  • The Awards have been instituted in 2017 by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

  • Objective: To recognize corporate initiatives in the area of CSR to achieve inclusive growth and inclusive and sustainable development.

  • Categories of Awards: Total number of awards of National CSR Awards is 20 in 3 categories which are as follows -
    • Corporate Awards for Excellence in CSR

    • Corporate Awards in CSR in Challenging Circumstances:

    • Up to Eleven Awards to be given based on contribution to National Priority Schemes so as to motivate corporates to spend in these areas.



Source : All India Radio
Awards

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

INDIGEN GENOME PROJECT
Union Minister for Science & Technology, Harsh Vardhan announced details of the IndiGen Genome project.

About:

  • The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has conducted Whole Genome Sequencing of 1,008 Indians from different populations across the country under the IndiGen Genome project.

  • The IndiGen initiative was undertaken by CSIR in April 2019, which was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.

  • This has enabled benchmarking the scalability of genome sequencing and computational analysis at population scale in a defined timeline. The ability to decode the genetic blueprint of humans through whole genome sequencing will be a major driver for biomedical science.

  • The outcomes of the IndiGen will have applications in a number of areas including predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases. 

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

SIACHEN GLACIER
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced that the Siachen Glacier will be open for tourists, between the base camp and Kumar logistics base. As of now, civilian tourists are restricted to the Nubra Valley, which is the gateway to the Siachen Glacier, and well away from the base camp.

About: 

  • The Siachen Glacier is a glacier located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas, just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends. 

  • The glacier lies between the Saltoro Ridge immediately to the west and the main Karakoram range to the east. The Saltoro Ridge originates in the north from the Sia Kangri peak on the China border in the Karakoram range. 

  • The entire Siachen Glacier, with all major passes, is currently under the administration of India since 1984. Pakistan controls the region west of Saltoro Ridge, far away from the glacier. 

  • The glacier's melting waters are the main source of the Nubra River in the Indian region of Ladakh, which drains into the Shyok River. The Shyok in turn joins the 3000 kilometre-long Indus River which flows through Pakistan. Thus, the glacier is a major source of the Indus.

  • At 76 km long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world's non-polar areas. 

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

SYCAMORE
Using the company's state-of-the-art quantum computer, called Sycamore, Google has claimed "quantum supremacy" over the most powerful supercomputers in the world by solving a problem considered virtually impossible for normal machines.

About:

  • The quantum computer completed the complex computation in 200 seconds. That same calculation would take even the most powerful supercomputers approximastely 10,000 years to finish.

  • Google's quantum computer consists of microscopic circuits of superconducting metal that entangle 53 qubits in a complex superposition state.

  • Although this Google achievement is certainly a feat in the world of quantum computing, the field is still in its infancy and practical quantum computers remain far on the horizon. 

Important Info :

Quantum supremacy?

  • Quantum supremacy, or “quantum advantage” is the point at which quantum computers can solve problems that are practically unsolvable for “classical” (non-quantum) computers to complete in any reasonable timeframe.
  • It is generally believed that at least 49 qubits are required to cross the quantum supremacy line.
  • Qubits behave very differently to bits in classical computers. Bits represent either a “1” or a “0”. In contrast, qubits can represent a combination state made up of both “1” and “0,” due to the peculiar quantum effects in which properties like particle position, direction, and momentum are not well-defined. 
Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Oct. 26, 2019

SUKHNA LAKE
The Chandigarh administration issued a draft notification for declaring Sukhna Lake as a wetland under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rule, 2017. Suggestions and objections have been invited from residents for the same.

About: 

  • Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh is a reservoir at the foothills (Shivalik hills) of the Himalayas.

  • This rainfed lake was created in 1958 by Le Corbusier and the Chief Engineer P L Verma by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream coming down from the Shivalik Hills.

  • The catchment area of Sukhna Wetland spreading over 10,395 acres as finalised by the Survey of India includes 2,525 acres of Haryana and 684 acres of Punjab.

  • Declaring Sukhna a wetland will help preserve the lake and conserve its ecological and biodiversity. A major threat to Sukhna is the discharge of pollutants from neighbouring areas.

  • With this, various activities will be prohibited/regulated/ promoted both in the wetland as well catchment areas.

Important Info :

Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017? 

  • These rules notified by the environment ministry, decentralise wetlands management by giving states powers to not only identify and notify wetlands within their jurisdictions but also keep a watch on prohibited activities.
  • It also indirectly widens the ambit of permitted activities by inserting the 'wise use' principle, giving powers to state-level wetland authorities to decide what can be allowed in larger interest.
  • The Centre's role under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, will be restricted to monitoring its implementation by states/UTs, recommending trans-boundary wetlands for notification and reviewing integrated management of selected wetlands under the Ramsar Convention.
Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology
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