Nov. 17, 2019

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR STATE CAPITALS & DELHI
Union Minister of Consumer Affairs released the Water Quality Report for State Capitals & Delhi as analysed by Bureau of India Standards (BIS).

About:

  • The samples of drinking water were tested as per Indian Standard 10500:2012 (Specification for Drinking Water) as set by the Bureau of India Standards (BIS).

  • Tests were conducted on various parameters such as Organoleptic and Physical Tests, Chemical test, Toxic substances and Bacteriological tests.

Findings:

  • A vast majority of the samples have failed to comply with the requirements of IS 10500:2012 in one or more parameters.

  • In Delhi, all the 11 samples drawn from various places did not comply with the requirements of the Indian Standard & failed on several parameters.

  • All the 10 samples drawn from Mumbai were found to comply with the requirements.

  • In the cities of Hyderabad, Bhubaneshwar, Ranchi, Raipur, Amravati and Shimla, one or more samples did not comply with the requirements of the Standard.

  • None of the samples drawn from 13 of the State Capitals i.e. Chandigarh, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, Bhopal, Guwahati, Bengaluru, Gandhinagar, Lucknow, Jammu, Jaipur, Dehradun, Chennai, Kolkata complied with the requirements of the Indian Standard.

Important Info :
  • The study was conducted as per directions of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to check the quality of piped drinking water being supplied in the country in keeping with the objectives of the Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to provide tap water to all households by 2024.
  • The Union Government wants to make BIS Standards mandatory for Tap Water so as to ensure quality drinking water for all households.
Source : The Hindu
Water

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

AGNI-II
India successfully conducted the first night trial of 'Agni-II' from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.

About:

  • 'Agni-II', an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) has already been inducted into the armed forces.

  • It is a versatile surface-to-surface medium-range nuclear-capable missile that can carry a nuclear payload of one thousand kilograms.

  • The missile has a strike range of 2000 km. The range of the 21-metre long missile weighing 17 tonnes can also be increased to three thousand kilometres by reducing the payload.

  • This was the first time that this missile was test-fired at night. 

Source : All India Radio
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

GERMANY’S CLIMATE PROTECTION ACT
The German parliament passed the Climate Protection Act in an attempt to reach its climate target by 2030.

About:

  • This will be Germany’s first climate action law.

  • Last week, New Zealand passed the Zero-Carbon Law in a bid to comply with it’s Paris climate accord commitments and become a carbon-neutral nation by the year 2050.

Salient features:

  • With this bill, a price on carbon emissions in the transport and heating sectors will be imposed along with some other measures to combat climate change.

  • The bill consists of emissions targets for different sectors of the economy such as transport, energy and housing.

  • From 2021, companies that market diesel and petrol, heating oil and natural gas in the country will need to obtain pollution rights for the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. This will be regulated through a national emissions trading mechanism.

  • Additionally, flying domestically and within Europe will be made more expensive. The aviation tax will be increased by more than 5 euros to 13.03 euros per ticket.

  • Significantly, renovations will also be taxed for three years from 2020 onwards. 

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

NATIONAL AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM 2019
On the occasion of National Press Day, the Vice President of India awarded the winners of ‘National Awards for Excellence in Journalism 2019' at New Delhi.

About:

  • The journalists in different areas were honoured for their outstanding and exemplary work in journalism at an event organized by Press Council of India (PCI).

  • Speaking on the occasion, the Vice President emphasized that ever since the launch of the first newspaper in India-‘The Bengal Gazette’ by James Augustus Hickey in 1780, the press has been playing an outstanding role in empowering the people.

Important Info :

Press Council of India (PCI)?

  • The National Press Day is observed on 16th November every year. It was on this day the Press Council of India (PCI) started functioning as a moral watchdog to ensure that the press maintains high standards and is not fettered by any influence or threats.
  • Origin: The Press Council of India was first set up in the year 1966 by the Parliament on the recommendations of the First Press Commission.
  • Status: It is a statutory body functioning under the Press Council Act, 1978.
  • Objective: Preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the standards of press in India.
  • Function: It is a quasi-judicial authority. It adjudicates the complaints against and by the press for violation of ethics and for violation of the freedom of the press respectively.
Source : All India Radio
Awards and Recognitions

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY (INSOLVENCY AND LIQUIDATION PROCEEDINGS OF FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS AND APPLICATION TO ADJUDICATING AUTHORITY) RULES, 2019 (RULES)
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Insolvency and Liquidation Proceedings of Financial Service Providers and Application to Adjudicating Authority) Rules, 2019 (Rules).

About:

  • The rules have been notified to provide a generic framework for insolvency and liquidation proceedings of systemically important Financial Service Providers (FSPs) other than banks.

  • The rules were issued under Section 227 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, which allows the Central government to notify FSPs or categories of FSPs for the purpose of insolvency and liquidation proceedings.

  • The Rules provide that the provisions of the Code relating to the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP), Liquidation Process and Voluntary Liquidation Process for a corporate debtor shall, mutatis mutandis, apply to a process for an FSP, subject to modifications.

  • The move to include FSPs comes against the backdrop of the crisis confronting the non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) sector.  

Source : Economic Times
Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

AGRIDEX
In a major move, the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) has launched India’s first agri index — ‘NCDEX Agridex’, for easy reference to price variations in agricultural commodities.

About:

  • It has been launched with a composition of 10 leading liquid contracts on the NCDEX platform at present. Leading commodities such as guar seed, guar gum, soybean, chana, mustard seed, and jeera, etc, will be the index's constituents.

  • The index is now available as ‘indicative’. It will be made tradable after being approved from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

  • For indices, the NCDEX has partnered with NSE Indices, a leading index service provider, as a third party, to maintain and disseminate real-time NCDEX Agridex values.

  • Futures trading on Agridex will enhance overall liquidity on the exchange platform. 

Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

OCSAE PREVENTION/INVESTIGATION UNIT
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has set up an Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OCSAE) Prevention/Investigation Unit.

About:

  • The OCSAE Prevention/Investigation Unit will function under the agency's Special Crime Zone in Delhi.

  • The newly specialized Unit will collect and disseminate information on online child sexual abuse and exploitation.

  • It will also probe such offences covered under the IPC, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Information Technology Act, apart from other relevant laws.

  • The territorial jurisdiction of the Unit of CBI will be throughout India. 

Source : DD News
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL FOR BICYCLE
Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry has set up a Development Council for Bicycle.

About:

  • It has been setup for vision planning in design, engineering and manufacturing of lighter, smarter, value added, safe and faster premium bicycles which are comparable with global standards for exports and domestic market.

  • The 23-member Council will be headed by Secretary DPIIT.

  • The constitution of the Council is for a period of two years. 

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

GANJIFA
Bengaluru’s Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath (CKP) recently released the book, Splendours of Ganjifa Art, containing 12 chapters by well-known Ganjifa artists, scholars and historians to document the fading form. This book is considered the first comprehensive and detailed documentation of the art form with contributions from practising artists and art scholars.

About:

  • Ganjifa, an ancient card game, is believed to have been brought to India during the Mughal period.

  • The Persian word, Ganjifeh, means playing cards.

  • These cards, mainly circular (there were some square decks too), were used by kings and noblemen across the country.

  • Typically Ganjifa cards have coloured backgrounds traditionally hand-painted by artisans, with each suit having a different colour.

  • The colours and iconography differed across regions. Some of the variants are Moghul Ganjifa (Odisha), Dashavatara Ganjifa (Sawantwadi in Maharashtra), Mysore Chad Ganjifa, Ramayan Ganjifa, Akbar's Ganjifa etc. 

Source : The Hindu
Culture

Current Affairs
Nov. 17, 2019

PUNJAB PRESERVATION OF SUBSOIL WATER ACT, 2009
The Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009 is being blamed for contributing to the air pollution over Delhi and surrounding areas.

About:

  • The Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009 aims at conserving groundwater by mandatorily delaying the transplanting of paddy to beyond June 10, when the most severe phase of evapotranspiration (transfer of water from land to the atmosphere through evaporation from the soil and plant transpiration) is over.

  • Farmers were forbidden from sowing paddy before May 10, and transplanting it before June 10. Haryana has a similar law.

The law’s link with air pollution:

  • Farmers’ organisations say late sowing and transplanting delays the harvesting as well (it is end-October by the time operations end), and they are left with a very small window to prepare their fields for the next (wheat) crop. In this situation, setting the stubble ablaze is a quick-fix solution.

  • By this time, temperatures have started to fall, and a combination of atmospheric and meteorological conditions ensure that the smoke cannot disperse easily.

  • A part of the smoke from the farm fires is carried by westerly winds towards the NCR and further down the Indo-Gangetic plain.

Source : Indian Express
Environment & Ecology

Nov. 16, 2019

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

ARROKOTH
In a fitting tribute to the farthest flyby ever conducted by spacecraft, the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 has been officially named Arrokoth, a Native American term meaning “sky” in the Powhatan/Algonquian language.

About:

  • About 6.6 billion km from Earth in the Kuiper Belt beyond the orbit of Neptune, a rock moves in slow orbit around the Sun, once every 297 years. Its odd shape consists of two lobes, respectively measuring 21 km and 15 km across, which create an appearance of a doughnut.

  • Provisionally named 2014 MU69 based on the year of its discovery, it was given the nickname ‘Ultima Thule’ last year following public suggestions made to NASA.

  • Now, it has got an official name — Arrokoth. Arrokoth is the term for “sky” in the Native American languages Powhatan and Algonquian.

  • NASA proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union and Minor Planets Centre, the authority responsible for naming objects that lie in the Kuiper Belt. The Belt consists of a mass of icy objects that include Pluto, the dwarf planet. 

Important Info :

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft – launched in January 2006 – sped past the object in January this year. It is the most primitive and distant object to have been encountered by a spacecraft.

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

TRACE BRIBERY MATRIX
India has been placed in a better position than neighbouring China in this year’s Trace Bribery Matrix.

About:

  • TRACE is a US based organisation which provides ranking to various countries in terms of the risk of bribery companies face in doing business in those countries.

  • The Trace Bribery Matrix evaluates 200 countries countries under four parameters which are (1) business interaction with the government, (2) anti-bribery deterrence, (3) transparency and (4) civil society oversight.

Key findings:

  • With a total risk score of 48, India is ranked higher than neighbouring China whose score is 59.

  • Among the BRICS nations, South Africa is ahead of other countries with a score of 42.

  • Bangladesh has the highest business bribery risk among South Asian courtiers. Bangladesh has been placed at 178 position among 200 countries.

  • Overall, Somalia, South Sudan, North Korea, Yemen and Venezuela presented the highest risk of bribe demands. New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland presented the lowest bribery risk. 

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

11TH BRICS SUMMIT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Brasilia, Brazil on 13th - 14th November 2019 to attend the 11th BRICS summit.

Key highlights:

  • The theme of the BRICS summit this year was "Economic Growth for an Innovative Future.”

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2020.

  • PM Modi has called for an early opening of New Development Bank's (NDB’s) regional office in India.

  • He urged the BRICS countries and NDB to join and strengthen the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).

  • He also proposed to hold first BRICS water minister meet in India to find solutions for sustainable water management and sanitation issues.

  • PM Modi expressed hope that MOU between trade promotion agencies of BRICS will help achieving the target of 500 billion US dollars intra BRICS trade.

  • During the the 4th BRICS-Young Scientist Forum (YSF), 2019, Ravi Prakash, an Indian scholar has won the 25,000 US Dollar BRICS-Young Innovator Prize for inventing an affordable indigenous milk chilling unit for smaller and marginal rural dairy farmers. 

Important Info :
  • BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • BRICS brings together five major emerging economies comprising 42 % of the world's population, having 23 % of the global GDP and around 17 % of the share and world trade.
  • Timeline: Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC" (or "the BRICs"), before the induction of South Africa in 2010. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.
  • The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states.
  • The BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) is a framework for providing protection against global liquidity pressures 
Source : All India Radio
International

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

FROM THE STATES
Following below were the key developments that occurred in the states in last couple of days.

About:

  • Sisseri River Bridge: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Sisseri River Bridge on the Pasighat-Ranaghat-Roing Road in East Siang District, Arunachal Pradesh.

  • North East Industrial Corridor: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced that Government is planning to set up a North East Industrial Corridor, with the Arunachal corridor acting as a bridge between India and southeast Asia, in a bid to provide employment opportunities and promote trade and tourism in the region.

  • National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA): It was launched in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. NISHTHA is a National Mission which aims to build the capacities of 42 lakh participants covering all teachers and Heads of Schools at elementary level in all Government Schools across the country, faculty members of SIEs/SCERTs, DIETs etc.

  • e-Ganna app, web portal: Uttar Pradesh government has launched a dedicated web portal and a mobile application, e-Ganna App, for sugarcane farmers of the state. It will ensure transparency in the process of getting slips, and facilitate sugarcane supply by farmers to mills and check irregularities. 

Source : All India Radio
Miscellaneous

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

GHUMAR AND AL-BAQOURA
King Abdullah II of Jordan announced that Jordan has decided to terminate annexes of ‘Baquoura and Ghumar’ in the peace agreement signed between Jordan and the Israeli.

About:

  • Under the 1994 Wadi Araba Peace Treaty with Israel, Jordan leased Baqura and Ghumar areas, formally under Jordanian sovereignty, to Israel for a period of 25 years that allowed Israeli farmers to cultivate in two pieces of agricultural land.

  • Baqura is a border area of six square kilometers in Jordan's northern Irbid province, while Ghumar covers four square kilometers in the southern Aqaba province.

Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

DEPOSITOR EDUCATION AND AWARENESS FUND (DEA FUND)
RBI released guidelines on the criteria for registering institutions ‘on tap’ for grant of financial assistance from the Depositor Education and Awareness Fund (DEA Fund).

Timeline:

  • Section 26A in the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 empowers the RBI to establish Depositor Education and Awareness Fund (DEA Fund).

  • Accordingly, a Scheme was formulated and notified in the Official Gazette In 2014. The Scheme envisages registration of institutions and grant of financial assistance to them for promotion of depositors’ awareness.

  • With a view to widening and deepening depositor awareness efforts, it has now been decided to invite applications ‘on tap’ for registration of eligible entities. 

Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

TAPAN RAY WORKING GROUP
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the Report of the Working Group (WG) to Review the Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for Core Investment Companies (CICs).

About:

  • The working group was chaired by Tapan Ray, former Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

  • The key recommendations of the WG are as follows:
    • Capital contribution by a CIC in a step-down CIC, over and above 10% of its owned funds, should be deducted from its Adjusted Networth, as applicable to other NBFCs. Further, step-down CICs may not be permitted to invest in any other CIC.

    • The number of layers of CICs in a group should be restricted to two.

    • Every Group having a CIC should have a Group Risk Management Committee (GRMC).

    • Constitution of the Board level committees viz., Audit Committee and Nomination and Remuneration Committee should be mandated.

    • Offsite returns may be designed by the RBI and may be prescribed for the CICs on the lines of other NBFCs.

    • Onsite inspection of CICs maybe conducted periodically. 



Important Info :

Core Investment Companies (CICs)?

  • Core investment companies are non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) holding not less than 90% of their net assets in the form of investment in equity shares, preference shares, bonds, debentures, debt or loans in group companies.
  • In August 2019, there were 63 CICs registered with RBI.
  • Experts have been seeking a review of CIC guidelines ever since defaults by Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS), a large systemically important core investment company.
Source : LiveMint
Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

WIND AUGMENTATION PURIFYING UNIT (WAYU)
Union Environment Ministry said that Roadside air purifiers (WAYU) have failed to address air pollution at traffic intersections and dense traffic zones in Delhi.

About:

  • Developers: The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a Nagpur-based laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), had developed WAYU to address air pollution at traffic intersections and dense traffic zones.

  • Timeline: Prototypes of the device had been installed at the ITO Junction and Mukarba Chowk in north Delhi. Minister for Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan unveiled the prototypes in September 2018.

  • Working: It comprises a fan that sucks in air and sieves out dust and particulate matter using three filters of varying sizes. The air then moves into another chamber where carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are oxidised into the less harmful carbon dioxide using activated carbon coated with titanium dioxide. The purified air is then released back into the atmosphere.

  • Features: Developers of WAYU claimed that the devices could reduce PM10 values from 600 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) to 100 ug/m3; and PM2.5 values from 300 ug/m3 to 60 ug/m3 in 30 minutes. 

Important Info :

Pariyayantra?

  • Along with WAYU, former Environment Minister Dr. Vardhan had, last December, also launched Pariyayantra in Delhi. These were a fleet of 30 buses with air filter units mounted on the roof.
  • As the vehicle moves, air passes through the holes in front of the device. The filters inside the unit trap the pollutants. What comes out is clean air. 
Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

WUSHU
India's Wushu World Championships medal winners Praveen, Yumnam Sanathoi Devi, Poonam Khatri and Vikrant Baliyan were felicitated by Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju in New Delhi.

About:

  • Wushu, or Chinese Kungfu, is a hard and soft and complete martial art, as well as a full-contact sport.

  • In contemporary times, Wushu has become an international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every two years.

  • Competitive Wushu is composed of two disciplines: taolu (forms) and sanda (sparring).
    • Taolu involves martial art patterns, acrobatic movements and techniques for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules.

    • Sanda is a modern fighting method and a full contact sport. Sanda contains boxing, kicks (kickboxing), and wrestling.



Important Info :

Recent development:

  • India had won four medals - a gold, two silvers and a bronze - in the World Championships held in Shanghai, China, last month.
  • Praveen Kumar made history for India by becoming the first Indian man to win a Wushu World Championships gold medal.
Source : Times of India
Sports

Current Affairs
Nov. 16, 2019

INFOSYS PRIZE 2019
The six winners of the Infosys Prize 2019 were announced by the Infosys Science Foundation.

About:

  • What is it? The Infosys Prize is an annual award given to scientists, researchers, engineers and social scientists of Indian Origin by the Infosys Science Foundation.

  • Categories: The recipients were chosen for their contributions in six categories namely (1) Engineering and Computer Sciences, (2) Humanities, (3) Life Sciences, (4) Mathematical Sciences, (5) Physical Sciences and (6) Social Sciences.

  • Prize money: The winners will receive a gold medal, a citation and a prize purse of $1,00,000 (or its equivalent in rupees) each.

  • Background: It was first awarded in 2008.

Important Info :

Infosys Limited is an Indian multinational corporation that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services. It has its headquarters in Bangalore, Karnataka.

Awards and Recognitions

Nov. 15, 2019

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

SABARIMALA VERDICT
Supreme Court (SC), in a 3:2 ruling has deferred its decision on review of 2018 Sabarimala verdict until a larger Bench examines broader issues such as essentiality of religious practices and constitutional morality.

About:

  • The Sabarimala temple is a temple complex located at Sabarimala inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala

  • The temple is dedicated to the Hindu celibate deity Ayyappan also known as Dharma Sastha, who according to belief is the son of Shiva and Mohini, the feminine incarnation of Vishnu.

  • The apex court, by a majority verdict of 4:1, in September 2018, had lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the famous Ayyappa shrine in Kerala. It had also held that this centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional. 

Important Info :

Recent Supreme Court Ruling:

  • Supreme Court said that restrictions on women in religious places was not limited to Sabarimala alone and was prevalent in other religions as well.
  • Supreme Court, by a majority of 3:2, has referred the review petitions to a larger seven judge bench. The Apex Court said, the larger bench will decide all such religious issues relating to Sabarimala, entry of women in mosques and practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community. 
Source : All India Radio
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

SUPREME COURT’S DOCTRINE OF ESSENTIALITY
The Supreme Court’s decision to refer the Sabarimala temple case to a larger 7-judge Bench will also re-evaluate the “essential religious practice test”, a contentious doctrine evolved by the court to protect only such religious practices which were essential and integral to the religion.

About:

  • The doctrine of “essentiality” was invented by a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the ‘Shirur Mutt’ case in 1954.

  • The court held that the term “religion” will cover all rituals and practices “integral” to a religion, and took upon itself the responsibility of determining the essential and non-essential practices of a religion. 

Important Info :

Criticism:

  • This doctrine has been criticised by several constitutional experts who argue that the doctrine has tended to lead the court into an area that is beyond its competence, and given judges the power to decide purely religious questions.
  • The essentiality test impinges on this autonomy. The apex court has itself emphasised autonomy and choice in its Privacy (2017), 377 (2018), and Adultery (2018) judgments.
  • As a result, over the years, courts have been inconsistent on this question — in some cases they have relied on religious texts to determine essentiality, in others on the empirical behaviour of followers, and in yet others, based on whether the practice existed at the time the religion originated.
Source : Indian Express
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

ACQUA ALTA
Italy has declared a state of emergency in Venice after the Italian city was engulfed by 1.87m (6ft) high water levels, flooding its historic basilica and cutting power to homes. More than 80% of the city, a Unesco world heritage site, was under water when tides were at their highest.

Venice:

  • Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region.

  • It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The islands are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers.

  • Venice has been known as "La Dominante", "La Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". The lagoon and a part of the city are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Important Info :

Acqua alta:

  • Acqua alta is the term used in Veneto for the exceptional tide peaks that occur periodically in the northern Adriatic Sea.
  • The peaks reach their maximum in the Venetian Lagoon, where they cause partial flooding of Venice and Chioggia.
  • The phenomenon occurs mainly between autumn and spring, when the astronomical tides are reinforced by the prevailing seasonal winds that hamper the usual reflux. The main winds involved are the
    • sirocco, which blows northbound along the Adriatic Sea, and
    • bora, which has a specific local effect due to the shape and location of the Venetian lagoon. 
Source : Indian Express
Geography

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

IDF Diabetes Atlas
The ninth edition of the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) Diabetes Atlas was released on the occasion of International Diabetes Day.

Key findings of the report:

  • India continues to be home to the second-largest number of adults with diabetes worldwide, with 77 million adults with diabetes in the 20-79 years age group. This follows China, which has 116 million adults with diabetes in the same age profile.

  • The worldwide prevalence of diabetes was estimated at 463 million in this age group, or in other words, one in 11 adults.

  • India was the largest contributor to diabetes mortality with more than 1 million estimated deaths attributable to diabetes and related complications, in the larger South East Asian region.

  • The number of people with diabetes is predicted to rise to 578 million by 2030 and to 700 million by 2045.

  • 374 million adults have impaired glucose tolerance, placing them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Diabetes was responsible for an estimated $760 billion in health expenditure in 2019.

  • Diabetes is among the top 10 causes of death, with people under the age of 60 accounting for almost half the deaths.

  • One in six live births is affected by hyperglycaemia in pregnancy. 

Important Info :

World diabetes day?

  • Observed on: November 14. It is because the day marks the birth anniversary of scientist and Nobel laureate Frederick Banting who discovered insulin (in 1922).
  • Objective: To create awareness about the effects of diabetes globally.
  • Origin: It was started in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The day became an official United Nations Day in 2006.
Source : The Hindu
Health

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

TOBACCO BOARD OF INDIA
Tobacco Board of India has been awarded the Golden Leaf Award in the Most Impressive Public Service Initiative category for the year 2019, for its efforts to initiate various sustainability (green) initiatives in Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco cultivation in India.

About:

  • Tobacco Board is a statutory body established under Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

  • It is headquartered in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.

  • The main functions of the Board include regulating the production and curing of Virginia tobacco in India, improving the yields and quality of tobacco, facilitating sale of tobacco through e-auctions, undertaking various grower welfare measures and export promotion of tobacco.

Important Info :

Golden Leaf Awards?

  • The Golden Leaf Awards were created to recognize professional excellence and dedication in the tobacco industry by Tobacco Reporter, an international magazine in the year 2006.
  • Awards are granted on an annual basis to companies that have achieved outstanding performance in five categories - most impressive public service initiative, most promising new product introduction, most exciting newcomer to the industry, most outstanding service to the industry and the BMJ most committed to quality award.
Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)
International Criminal Court (ICC) Judges have approved a request from prosecutors to open an investigation into crimes committed against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority.

About:

  • Mandate: it is an intergovernmental international tribunal for Criminal prosecution of individuals for four main crimes namely –
    • Genocide,

    • War crimes,

    • Crimes against humanity and

    • Crime of aggression.



  • Established in: 2002 by Rome statue.

  • HQ: Hague, Netherlands. The Court's official seat is in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings may take place anywhere.

  • Jurisdiction: It can exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes. The Court can generally exercise jurisdiction only in three cases, viz.
    • if the accused is a national of a state party,

    • if the alleged crime took place on the territory of a state party or

    • if a situation is referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council.



  • Judges: 18; Elected for 9-year term.

  • Members: 122 countries. Israel, United States, Russia, china and India are not its member.

  • United States and ICC: The United States has not signed up to the court and in 2002, its Congress passed a law enabling Washington to invade the Netherlands to liberate any U.S. citizen held by the court.

  • Relation with UN:
    • While not a United Nations organization, the Court has a cooperation agreement with the United Nations.

    • When a situation is not within the Court’s jurisdiction, the United Nations Security Council can refer the situation to the ICC granting it jurisdiction.



Important Info :

Recent development:

  • ICC said that it has jurisdiction over crimes partially committed in Bangladesh, which is a member state of the court.
  • Myanmar is not a member of the global court. It has been accused of committing widespread abuses in a campaign against the Rohingya. Myanmar's military began a counterinsurgency campaign against the Rohingya in August 2017 in response to an insurgent attack. 
Source : All India Radio
International

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE, AIIMS JHAJJAR
Union Minister of Health, Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated LINAC services and AMRIT pharmacy at National Cancer Institute, AIIMS Jhajjar campus.

About:

  • The National Cancer Institute, AIIMS, New Delhi (Jhajjar Campus) was dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister on 12.02.2019.

  • It has been constructed with an approved cost of Rs. 2035 Crore. NCI is the largest investment by the Government of India in a single hospital project.

  • It is planned as the apex center for translational research in cancer care/prevention and has 710 patient care beds, 25 operation theaters, state-of-the art diagnostics, advanced radiation treatment, 1500 dwelling units, 2705 faculty & staff, etc. 

Important Info :

Do you know?

  • The Linear Accelerator (LINAC) machines will help deliver precise high-energy x-rays or electrons to the region of the patient's tumor such that cancer cells are destroyed while largely sparing the surrounding normal tissue.
  • The AMRIT Pharmacy commissioned will provide all required medicines at subsidized rates to the poor patients. 
Source : PIB
Health

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

MADHEPURA ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE PVT. LTD. (MELPL)
Indian Railways has entered into Procurement cum Maintenance Agreement with Madhepura Electric Locomotive Pvt. Ltd. (MELPL), Bihar, a joint venture of Indian Railways and M/s Alstom.

About:

  • The Electric Locomotive Factory, Madhepura, Bihar is a joint venture of Alstom SA of France with Indian Railways for the production of 800 high-power Electric locomotives over a period of 11 years designed to run on Indian tracks at 120 km per hour.

  • The manufacturing has started on 11 October 2017. In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated India's first high-speed WAG-12 12,000 HP freight electric locomotive at Electric Locomotive Factory, Madhepura. Alstom says its first locomotive will be ready for roll-out early 2019.

  • The new twin Bo-Bo design Locomotive with 22.5 T (Tonnes) axle load upgradable to 25Tonnes with design speed of 120 kmph will be powered by 12000HP. The locomotive will be used in the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) for the faster movement of goods, especially coal and iron ore.

  • This is the first time such High Horse Power locomotive is being tested on Broad Gauge network in the World by any Railways. 

Source : LiveMint
Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

GLOBAL COOLING PRIZE
Union Minister for Science & Technology will announce the finalists of the ‘Global Cooling Prize’ (GCP) at an Award Ceremony on November 15, 2019, being organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Mission Innovation (MI) programme.

Mission Innovation (MI):

  • Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative of 24 countries and the European Union to accelerate global clean energy innovation.

  • MI identified “Affordable Heating and Cooling of Building Innovation Challenge” as one of the seven innovation challenges.

  • India agreed to its engagement as MI Member for the Mission Innovation Challenge # 7: Affordable Heating and Cooling Challenge. The objective of the MI Challenge #7 is to make low carbon heating and cooling affordable for everyone. 

Important Info :

‘Global Cooling Prize’ (GCP):

  • Department of Science & Technology (DST) in partnership with BEE & MoEF&CC has launched GCP jointly with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an independent non-profit research institute and think tank founded in 1982 in the US.
  • GCP aims to spur development of a residential cooling solution that has at least five times (5x) less climate impact than today's standard products.
  • GCP was launched in November, 2018. This competition runs for two years and will disburse at least US$3 million in interim and final awards to best innovative residential cooling technologies which demonstrate performance.
  • The seven finalists will be awarded US $200,000 to develop two prototypes for real field testing in India. 
Source : PIB
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Nov. 15, 2019

VASHISHTHA NARAYAN SINGH
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has condoled the passing away of renowned Mathematician Dr. Vashishtha Narayan Singh.

About:

  • The 74-year-old is said to have challenged Einstein's theory of relativity. Born in 1942, Vashishtha Narayan Singh had been suffering from schizophrenia for 40 years.

  • Vashishtha Narayan Singh did his schooling from Netarhat school in undivided Bihar. He studied at Patna Science College after which he went to University of California in 1965 and completed his PhD on cycle vector space theory in 1969.

  • Vashishtha Narayan Singh had taught at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. He was also a visiting professor at BN Mandal University, Madhepura. 

Source : Times of India
Science & Tech

Nov. 14, 2019

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

RIGHT TO INFORMATION (RTI)
The Supreme Court held that office of Chief Justice of India is a public authority under Right to Information (RTI) Act.

About:

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench pronounced its verdict after listening to a petition filed against a 2010 Judgement of the Delhi High Court. The High Court in its order had declared the CJI's office a public authority and said that it should come under the RTI Act.

  • The bench also said that only the names of judges recommended by the Collegium for appointment can be disclosed, not the reasons.

  • It said that the Right to Privacy is an important aspect and it has to be balanced with transparency while deciding to give out information from the office of the Chief Justice.

  • The outcome is that the office of the CJI will now entertain RTI applications.

  • While the office of the CJI is now under the RTI’s ambit, the CBI is exempt. 

Source : All India Radio
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

WOMEN AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
A report released by Lokniti-CSDS and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung has looked at women and political participation from multiple perspectives.

Key findings:

  • Socio-economic class also determines women’s participation in electoral activities. Women belonging to the upper social (castes) and upper economic classes were found to be more active in electoral politics as compared to women placed at the bottom of the social and economic hierarchy.

  • Women’s participation as voters has seen a sharp increase over the years.

  • Although the number of women candidates has increased, there still exists a wide gap. Only a little over one-fourth of the women respondents were keen to make a career in politics if given an opportunity.

  • Half of the women respondents agreed that parties always prefer a male candidate while giving tickets. Only one-seventh of respondents disagreed and one in 10 had no opinion.

  • Patriarchal norms/structure of the society were the biggest obstacles that prevented women from taking part in politics. 

Source : Indian Express
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

NEGATIVE INTEREST RATES
President Donald Trump criticised the Federal Reserve’s raising and then cutting of interest rates as it puts the United States at a competitive disadvantage with other countries and thus called for introducing negative interest rates.

About:

  • What is it? A negative interest means that instead of the bank paying you money to keep in the savings account, you pay the bank to do so. It also means that anyone can borrow money from the bank and pay back less than what he borrowed.

  • Objective: Negative interest rates are expected to make consumers save less and spend more; they are also expected to make banks lend more. In essence, negative interest rates are expected to boost economic activity when all other efforts fail.

  • Global scenario: Sweden did it first in 2009 but now European Central Bank rates are also negative as are Japanese rates. 

Important Info :

Downsides:

  • Negative interest rates completely alter the way normal investment and savings behaviour function because now a saver is paying for parting with cash and a borrower is being perversely incentivised to borrow more.
  • The financial viability of banks comes under strain if the loans they extend lose money by design. This forces banks to also raise charges on other services, making them more costly than they need to be — in turn, hurting consumer demand.
  • Data shows that European economies and Japan continue to struggle with growth. For the most part, people have not spent the cash, and because they haven’t, businesses haven’t taken new loans to set up more production capacities.
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

PNEUMONIA
Since 2009, November 12 has been observed as World Pneumonia Day to raise awareness about the infection.

About:

  • What is it? Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs.
    • The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes.

    • When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake.



  • Causes: Pneumonia is caused by a number of infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria and fungi. The most common are –
    • Streptococcus pneumoniae – the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children;

    • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) – the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia;



  • Transmission: Pneumonia can be spread in a number of ways via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze or blood, especially during and shortly after birth.

  • Prevention: Pneumonia can be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition, and by addressing environmental factors.

  • Treatment: Pneumonia caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics.

  • Deaths caused by it: According to WHO, Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. Pneumonia killed 808 694 children under the age of 5 in 2017, accounting for 15% of all deaths of children under five years old.

  • The WHO and UNICEF integrated Global action plan for pneumonia and diarrhoea (GAPPD) aims to accelerate pneumonia control with a combination of interventions to protect, prevent, and treat pneumonia in children. 

Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

PRESIDENT’S RULE IN MAHARASHTRA
While recommending President’s Rule in Maharashtra, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari noted that a situation has arisen when the formation of a stable government is not possible even 15 days after the election results had been declared.

About:

  • President’s Rule implies the suspension of a state government and the imposition of direct rule of the Centre.

  • This is achieved through the invocation of Article 356 of the Constitution by the President on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers.

  • Under Article 356, this move can be taken If the President, on receipt of the report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

  • A proclamation of President’s Rule can be revoked through a subsequent proclamation in case the leader of a party produces letters of support from a majority of members of the Assembly, and stakes his claim to form a government. The revocation does not need the approval of Parliament.

  • Any proclamation under Article 356 —which stands for six months — has to be approved by both Houses in the Parliament session following it. This six-month time-frame can be extended in phases, up to three years. 

Important Info :

Similar precedents?

  • This is not the first time President’s Rule has been imposed following an election that did not lead to government formation.
  • For instance, no party could mobilise a majority in the Bihar Assembly following elections in February 2005. President’s Rule, which was imposed on March 7, 2005, lasted 262 days until November 24 . It was lifted after fresh elections in October-November. 
Source : Indian Express
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

CRIMINALISING MATCH-FIXING
In a first for a South Asian nation, Sri Lanka has criminalised several offences related to match-fixing.

About: 

  • Sri Lanka’s Parliament passed The Prevention of Offences Related to Sports Bill that entails a prison term of up to 10 years for corruption in sports, as well as hefty fines up to 100 million Sri Lankan rupees.

  • Under it, “any person related to a sport” who is directly involved in fixing, as well as those who “provide inside information”, curators who prepare pitches to suit betting operators, and match officials who “deliberately misapply the rules” for money, will be punished.

  • For the past two years, Sri Lankan Cricket has been embroiled in several instances of corruption and match-fixing. The cricket board has been under the scanner of Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of International Cricket Council (ICC) since 2017.

Important Info :

Global and Indian scenario:

  • Match-fixing is a serious crime in a number of other cricketing nations, including England and Australia.
  • Although cricket betting is illegal in India, it is legal in many other countries where session bets can be placed on matches happening in India.
  • In 2018, in a report titled “Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including in Cricket in India”, the Law Commission recommended that “match-fixing and sports fraud” be deemed as “criminal offences”, and be dealt with “severe punishments”. 
Source : Indian Express
Sports

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

PREMATURE DEATHS IN INDIA
An analysis on Premature deaths in India was published in The Lancet Global Health. The study was funded by the Ministry of Heath and Family Welfare and looked at about 9.7 million deaths in India in 2017.

Key findings:

  • Every condition that was common in one part of India was uncommon elsewhere. For example, the North-eastern states, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh account for 44% of India’s cancer burden.

  • Premature deaths due to various causes, expressed as Years of Life Lost (YLLs), too were unevenly distributed in terms of the burden on the states. For example,
    • liver and alcohol-related YLL rates were high in the northeastern states, Bihar, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, accounting for 18% of national YLLs.

    • Suicide YLL rates were highest in the southern states, accounting for 15% of national totals.

    • Road traffic injuries were high in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, accounting for 33% of national totals.

    • Drowning YLL rates, meanwhile, were highest in the central states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and in Assam in the Northeast, accounting for 11% of national totals.



  • In 2017, India had 486 million DALYs (disability-adjusted life years, a measure of the number of years lost due to ill health or disability). The ratio of DALYs to the 9.7 million deaths was about 50 to 1. More than three quarters of deaths and DALYs occurred in rural areas.

Important Info :

By the World Health Organzation definition, Years of Life Lost (YLLs) are calculated from the number of deaths multiplied by a standard life expectancy at the age of death.

Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

INDIA INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR (IITF)
39th India International Trade Fair (IITF) will begin on November 14 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.

About:

  • Background: Ever since its inception in 1980, it is held every year between 14–27 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

  • Objective: It provides a common platform for the manufacturers, traders, exporters and importers. The fair displays comprise a wide range of products and services including automobiles, textiles, household appliances etc.

  • Organized by: India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO).

  • Theme of this year’s edition: Ease of Doing Business.

  • Partner country:

  • Focus country: South Korea.

  • Focus state: Bihar and Jharkhand. 

Important Info :

India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO)?

  • ITPO is the nodal agency of the Government of India under aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Industry for promoting country's external trade.
  • ITPO is a Mini-Ratna Category-1 Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) with 100 % shareholding of Government of India.
  • ITPO is headquartered at Pragati Maidan. 
Source : All India Radio
Economy

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

BIG BANG THEORY
A research published in the journal Science has explained how the Big Bang took place around 13.8 billion years ago, which led to the beginning of Universe.

About:

  • The Big Bang theory states that all matter that exists today in the universe sprung forth from a single point in an epic explosion.

  • Now the researchers have defined the critical criteria where they can drive a flame to self-generate its own turbulence, spontaneously accelerate and transition into detonation.

  • The key is applying the right amount of turbulence and mixing to an unconfined flame until it becomes self-perpetuating, at which point the flame begins to burn the ingested energy leading to a hypersonic -- exceeding the speed of sound -- supernova explosion.

  • The team uncovered the criteria for creating a Big Bang-type explosion while exploring methods for hypersonic jet propulsion. The finding may have applications in faster air and space travel, and improved power generation. 

Important Info :

Georges Lemaître?

  • Georges Lemaître (1894 – 1966) was a Belgian astronomer.
  • He was the first to identify that the recession of nearby galaxies can be explained by a theory of an expanding universe, which was observationally confirmed soon afterwards by Edwin Hubble.
  • He also proposed what later became known as the "Big Bang theory" of the origin of the universe, initially calling it the "hypothesis of the primeval atom". 
Source : All India Radio
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Nov. 14, 2019

6th WORLD CONGRESS ON RURAL AND AGRICULTURAL FINANCE
The 6th World Congress on Rural and Agricultural Finance was recently held in New Delhi.

About:

  • The 6th World Congress is being jointly hosted by Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.

  • This 6th version of the congress was attended by 300 delegates across the globe who engaged in interactive discussions to unleash the potential role of rural and agricultural finance. 

Important Info :

Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA)?

  • APRACA, representing 81-member institutions from 21 countries, is a regional association that promotes cooperation and facilitates mutual exchange of information and expertise in the field of rural finance.
  • Secretariat: Bangkok, Thailand.
  • APRACA is one of the three regional agricultural credit associations, along with NENARACA (Near East – North Africa Agricultural Credit Association) and AFRACA (African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association) that were established, with the help of FAO, following the 1975 World Conference on Agricultural Credit. 
Source : LiveMint
Economy
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