Jan. 29, 2020

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

AFRICAN CHEETAH
The Supreme Court allowed the Centre to introduce the African cheetah to suitable habitat in India.

About:

  • The apex Court's decision followed a petition filed by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) seeking permission for the introduction of the African cheetah from Namibia as rare Indian cheetah is almost extinct in the country.

  • The Court also set up a three-member committee, comprising former Director Wildlife of India Ranjit Singh, Director General of Wildlife of India Dhananjay Mohan and Deputy Inspector General, Wildlife, Ministry of Environment to guide the NTCA in taking a decision on the issue. 

Important Info :

Cheetah?

  • Family: It is a large cat of the subfamily Felinae
  • Scientific name: Acinonyx jubatus.
  • The 4 subspecies are: Southeast African cheetah, Asiatic cheetah, Northeast African cheetah and Northwest African cheetah.
  • Distribution: it is found in North, Southern and East Africa, and a few localities in Iran.
  • Habitat: It inhabits a variety of mostly arid habitats like dry forests, scrub forests, and savannahs.
  • Conversation Status: The cheetah has been
    • classified as endangered by the IUCN; and
    • listed under Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
  • Speed: The cheetah is the fastest land animal. 
Source : All India Radio
Environment

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

RAMSAR SITES
Ramsar has declared 10 more wetland sites from India as sites of international importance for the conservation of global biological diversity.

About:

  • Maharashtra gets its first Ramsar site (Nandur Madhameshwar), Punjab added 3 more (Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve, Nangal) and UP has added 6 more (Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and SarsaiNawar).

  • With this, the numbers of Ramsar sites in India are now 37 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,067,939 hectares. 

Important Info :
  • The Ramsar Convention was signed in 1971 to maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity.
  • Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under strict guidelines of the convention.
Source : The Hindu
Environment

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

SPITZER SPACE TELESCOPE
On January 30, 2020, NASA’s Spitzer Mission, which studied the universe in infrared light for more than 16 years, will come to an end since it is low on fuel and has been drifting away from Earth for a few years now.

About:

  • The Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) is an infrared space telescope. It was launched in 2003 and is planned to be retired on 30 January 2020.

  • This telescope by NASA is named in honor of astronomer Lyman Spitzer, who had promoted the concept of space telescopes in the 1940s.

  • It is one of the elements of NASA’s Great Observatories that include the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-Ray. Using different infrared wavelengths, Spitzer was able to see and reveal features of the universe including objects that were too cold to emit visible light.

  • Spitzer could also see through large amounts of gas using infrared wavelengths to find objects that may otherwise have been invisible to human beings. These included exoplanets, brown dwarfs and cold matter found in the space between stars.

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

SIS-DP PROJECT
Union Minister of State for Department of Space inaugurated the 'National Workshop on Space based Information Support for Decentralised Planning (SISDP)-update.' He also launched the Bhuvan Panchayat V 3.0 web portal in Bengaluru.

About:

  • ISRO had launched 'SISDP' project to assist gram panchayats at grassroots level with basic planning inputs derived from satellite data for preparing developmental plans, its implementation and monitoring of activities.

  • National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), located in Hyderabad, is the lead centre to execute the project. NSRC is one of the centres of ISRO.

  • SISDP phase-I project was successfully concluded in 2016-17. Based on the experience of SISDP phase-I, 'SISDP-Update' has been initiated.

  • The geodatabase, products and services prepared under this project are expected to be disseminated through Bhuvan geoportal, an easy to use Geo portal developed for database visualization, data analytics etc. for the benefit of Gram Panchayat members and other stake holders. 

Source : PIB
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

RUKUNA RATHA YATRA
During the Republic Day celebrations of 2020, the tableau of Odisha displayed the famous Rukuna Ratha Yatra of Lord Lingaraja worshipped as both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu in a sixth century built temple named 'Lingaraj Temple' at Bhubaneswar.

About:

  • Rukuna Rath Yatra of Lord Lingaraj in Bhubaneswar is one of the biggest festival of the city.

  • The Chariot Festival of Lord Lingaraja is celebrated at Bhubaneswar on the day of Ashokastami or Basanti Durga Puja.The festival takes place in the month of Chaitra (March-April) the day preceding Ramanavami.

  • On the day of Ashokastami 3 deities i.e. Chandrasekhar – the representative of lord Lingaraja, Rukmini & Basudeva are ceremonially brought to ascend chariot.

  • After that, the chariot is drawn to Rameswara temple and remained there for four days called Gundicha Gharand on the fifth day the three deities start the return journey called Bahuda. 

Source : Outlook
Culture

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

AIR INDIA DISINVESTMENT
The newly constituted Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) has approved the release of the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) for inviting Expression of Interest (EOI) from the Interested Bidders (IBs) for Strategic Disinvestment of Air India.

About:

  • The Union government invited bids for a 100% stake sale of Air India (AI) and transfer of management control along with its complete share in two subsidiaries — low-cost international carrier Air India Express and ground-handling arm AISATS.

  • The government has also offered to hive off liabilities worth nearly ₹40,000 crore.

  • On the table is a 100% stake in AI, 100% stake in AI Express Limited (AIXL) and all of the government’s 50% stake in AISATS, which is a joint venture with the Singapore-based ground handling company SATS Limited.

  • The buyer will get a total of 146 aircraft, 56% of which are owned by the airline group, while the remaining are on lease. Any private or public limited company, a corporate body and a fund with a net value of ₹3,500 crore will be eligible to bid.

  • The last date for submitting interest to the transaction adviser is March 17 and the outcome of this round will be known by March 31. 

Important Info :
  • The newly constituted Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) is headed by Union Home Minister and comprises Union Ministers of Commerce & Industry, Finance & Corporate Affairs and Civil Aviation, as members.
  • This is the second attempt in two years by the government at privatising the national carrier. On May 31, 2018, when the deadline for bids closed, not even a single private player had shown interest.
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

HCFC-141b
India has successfully achieved the complete phase out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b.

About:

  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises and is one of the most potent ozone depleting chemical after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

  • HCFC-141 b is used mainly as a blowing agent in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.

  • The Ministry of Environment has brought out a Gazette notification through which import of HCFC-141b is prohibited from 1st January, 2020 under Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2019 issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

  • The complete phase out of HCFC 141 b from the country in foam sector is among the first at this scale in Article 5 parties (developing countries) under the Montreal Protocol. 

Source : PIB
Environment

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

STCW CONVENTION
The Union Cabinet has approved the Model MoU with foreign countries for recognition of seafarers’ competency certificates, pursuant to STCW Convention, 1978.

About:

  • International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 sets minimum qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships and large yachts.

  • The Convention did not deal with manning levels: IMO provisions in this area are covered by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974.

  • STCW was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, and entered into force in 1984. The Convention was significantly amended in 1995.

  • One especially important feature of the Convention is that it applies to ships of non-party States when visiting ports of States which are Parties to the Convention.

Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
Jan. 29, 2020

PRESOLAR GRAINS
Scientists have discovered the oldest solid material ever found on the Earth, in the form of stardust trapped inside a meteorite that crashed into Australia 50 years ago and predates the formation of our solar system.

About:

  • This stardust provides evidence for a ‘baby boom’ of new stars that formed 7 billion years ago, contrary to the theory that star formation happens at a steady, constant rate. The materials the researchers examined are called presolar grains.

  • Presolar grains are interstellar solid matter in the form of tiny solid grains that originated at a time before the Sun was formed. Presolar stardust grains formed within outflowing and cooling gases from earlier presolar stars.

  • These bits of stardust became trapped in meteorites where they remained unchanged for billions of years, making them capsules of the cosmic time before the solar system.

  • However, presolar grains are very tiny and rare, found only in about five per cent of meteorites that have fallen to the Earth. Since presolar grains are formed when a star dies, they can tell us about the history of stars. 

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Jan. 28, 2020

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

GOTT PROJECT MANAGEMENT UNIT (PMU)
Government eMarketplace (GeM), under the Department of Commerce (Ministry of Commerce) and Government of Uttar Pradesh, signed a MoU to set up a GeM Organizational Transformation Team (GOTT) Project Management Unit (PMU) in the State.

About:

  • The PMU to be setup under the MoU will make it easier for MSMEs of U.P. to onboard and transact on GeM. GOTT will assist the buyer agency to redesign the procurement processes and enhance competencies to derive maximum benefit from the online marketplace.

  • The Government of Uttar Pradesh is the second State after Punjab to establish a GOTT-PMU for efficient and transparent procurement. Among the CPSEs, SAIL has already signed MoU for setting up a PMU. 

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

BODO AGREEMENT
A historic agreement was signed between Government of India, Government of Assam and Bodo representatives to end the over 50-year old Bodo crisis.

Key highlights of the agreement:

  • Increase the scope and powers of the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) and to streamline its functioning;

  • Set up a commission under Section 14 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India, to recommend the inclusion or exclusion of tribal population residing in villages adjoining Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) areas;

  • The Government of Assam will establish a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council;

  • The Assam government will also notify Bodo language as an associate official language in the state and will set up a separate directorate for Bodo medium schools;

  • promote and protect Bodo's social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities;

  • Providing legislative protection for the land rights of tribals;

  • A Special Development Package Rs. 1500 crores over three years will be given by the Union Government to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.

  • Rehabilitate members of National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) factions (With this agreement, over 1500 armed cadres will abjure violence and join the mainstream). 

Source : PIB
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

3rd GLOBAL POTATO CONCLAVE
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the 3rd Global Potato Conclave at Gandhinagar, Gujarat on 28th of January 2020. The Potato Conference will be held for 3 days during 28-30 January, 2020.

About:

  • Bodies involved: The Conclave is being organized by Indian Potato Association (IPA) in collaboration with Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, and ICAR-Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla and International Potato Center (CIP), Lima, Peru.

  • Background: The present conclave is the third in the series. During last two decades two Global Potato Conferences were organized during 1999, and 2008.

  • Aim: The Conclave will provide an opportunity so that all the issues are discussed and future plans are made involving everyone related to the potato sector. 

Important Info :

Gujarat and Potato sector:

  • Gujarat is one of the leading producers of Potato in the country. In the last eleven years alone, while the area under potato in India, has increased by 19%, it has increased by about 170% in Gujarat.
  • With a productivity of more than 30t/ha, Gujarat is holding the No. 1 position in India for last one decade. 
Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

75th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF AUSCHWITZ
On January 27, 2020, survivors of the Holocaust and international heads of state marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

About:

  • During the Second World War, the government of Nazi Germany killed approximately 17 million people across Europe in half a dozen camps specifically designated for killings.

  • Of these seven killing centers, the camp at Auschwitz (in German-occupied Poland), perhaps the most well known, was the largest in size. In many ways, Auschwitz has become the center of Holocaust history and research and serves as a reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust.

  • Allied forces entered Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, finding hundreds of sick, starving and exhausted prisoners, who had somehow survived. In 2005, the UN-designated January 27 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

RELATED-PARTY TRANSACTIONS
A working group, put in place by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in November 2019, has proposed significant changes to strengthen the regulatory framework for related-party transactions that have been the subject of many corporate governance matters.

Recommendations made:

  • Broaden the definition of RPTs (related-party transactions) to include transactions which are undertaken, whether directly or indirectly, with the intention of benefitting related parties.

  • An audit committee approval must be made mandatory for transactions between a listed entity or its subsidiary with its related party.

  • Any entity related to the promoter or promoter group should be considered a related party. Further, any entity holding — directly or indirectly along with their relatives — 20% or more stake in the company should also be considered a related party. 

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

SIGNIFICANCE OF JANUARY 26
26 January 1950 was the day India’s Constitution came into effect, and the country became a republic. The day- 26 January- was chosen for a particular reason, as it marked a key event in the struggle for India’s freedom from British rule.

About:

  • In 1929, Lahore hosted the Indian National Congress session, in which Jawaharlal Nehru was president. On December 31, 1929, Nehru hoisted the tricolour on the banks of the Ravi river and demanded “Poorna Swaraj” or complete self-rule, and the date set for independence was January 26, 1930.

  • On January 26, 1930, the Congress passed the Poorna Swaraj resolution or the Declaration of Independence. The day was then celebrated as Poorna Swaraj day for the next 17 years.

  • When India became independent in 1947, the day set by the British was August 15– chosen to coincide with the second anniversary of the day when Japanese forces submitted to allied powers after the Second World War.

  • Thus, when the Constitution of India was adopted on 26th November, 1949, many considered it necessary to celebrate the document on a day associated with national pride. The Poorna Swaraj day was the best option– January 26. It has since been celebrated as the country’s Republic Day. 

Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS 2020
The 71st Republic Day was celebrated at Rajpath, New Delhi.

Key highlights of the event:

  • For the first time that the Prime Minister paid homage to martyrs at the National War Memorial (NWM) near India Gate instead of Amar Jawan Jyoti (AJJ).
    • The NWM, inaugurated in February 2019, is located at the ‘C’ Hexagon near the India Gate and was built in memory of about 22,500 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the post-independence period.

    • The AJJ will now be used only for regimental events and visiting dignitaries.



  • Anti-satellite weapon – Mission Shakthi developed by DRDO, Army’s battle tank Bhishma, infantry combat vehicles, Air Forces’ newly inducted Chinook and Apache helicopters were showcased during the parade.

  • The President of Brazil, Jair Messias Bolsonaro was this year’s chief guest.

  • The first contingent in the uniform of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers was 61 Cavalry, the only active serving horse cavalry regiment in the world. It was raised on August 01, 1953 with the amalgamation of six state forces’ cavalry units.

  • For the first time, a contingent of women bikers of CRPF performed daredevil stunts. 

Source : PIB
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

GALLANTRY AWARDS 2020
India’s third-highest gallantry medal in peacetime, Shaurya Chakra, has been awarded to six Army and three police personnel for conspicuous bravery in counter-terror operations.

About:

  • Order of precedence of these awards is the Param Vir Chakra, the Ashoka Chakra, the Mahavir Chakra, the Kirti Chakra, the Vir Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra.

  • Announcement: These gallantry awards are announced twice in a year - first on the occasion of the Republic Day and then on the occasion of the Independence Day.

  • Shaurya Chakra is awarded to the armed forces for instances of extraordinary gallantry.

  • President Kovind also approved four Uttam Yudh Seva Medals (UYSM) for top Army generals including Lt. Gen. Y K Joshi, who will soon take charge of the Northern Army Command.

  • The President also approved five Nao Sena Medals (gallantry), four Bar to Sena Medals (devotion to duty), 36 Sena Medals (devotion to duty), eight Nao Sena Medals (devotion to duty), one Bar to Vayu Sena Medal (devotion to duty) and 13 Vayu Sena Medals (devotion to duty). 

Source : Times of India
Awards

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

GIANT STRAIGHT-TUSKED ELEPHANT
An international study in Quaternary Science Reviews has sought to bring some order into our understanding of giant straight-tusked elephant.

About:

  • About 800,000 years ago, a giant straight-tusked elephant migrated out of Africa and spread across Europe and Asia.

  • Marked by a huge head, the elephant divided into many species, such as Palaeoloxodon antiquus (in Europe), Palaeoloxodon namadicus (India) and Palaeoloxodon naumanni (Japan).

  • One key point of confusion was the different sizes of skull crests in fossils found in Europe. The new study has concluded that there was a single European species.

  • On the other hand, fossils found in Asia and East Africa represent distinct species that evolved. 

Important Info :
  • The straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) is an extinct species of elephant that inhabited Europe and Western Asia during the Middle and Late Pleistocene (781,000–50,000 years before present).
  • Palaeoloxodon namadicus or the Asian straight-tusked elephant, was a species of prehistoric elephant that ranged throughout Pleistocene Asia.
Source : Indian Express
Environment

Current Affairs
Jan. 28, 2020

NATIONAL SECURITY ACT (NSA), 1980
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal has issued an order giving the Police Commissioner the power to detain individuals under the tough National Security Act (NSA), 1980.

About:

  • The National Security Act, 1980 is described as “an Act to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith”.

  • The Act has been widely criticised as being “draconian” because of the powers of preventive detention that it gives to the government.

  • The detention under the NSA can extend up to 12 months — or even for longer if the government is able to produce more evidence against the detainee.

Source : Indian Express
Defence & Security

Jan. 27, 2020

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

ANTHROPOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA (AnSI)
As part of the commemoration of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) has dedicated an entire issue of its journal on what it calls “Gandhian insights into applied anthropology”.

About:

  • Mandate: Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) is the apex Indian government organisation involved in anthropological studies and field data research for human and cultural aspects.

  • Formed in: 1945. 

  • Headquarters: Kolkata. 

  • Parent organisation: Ministry of Culture.

Important Info :
  • According to the recent journal, equality and human community of the Gajan (a rural festival of Bengal), had so much in common with the Gandhian yatra.
Source : The Hindu
Culture

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

GLOBAL TALENT COMPETITIVENESS INDEX
The 2020 Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report compiled by INSEAD in collaboration with human resource firm Addeco and Google was released in Davos, Switzerland.

About:

  • Launched for the first time in 2014, the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.

  • India has climbed eight places to 72nd rank in the 2020 Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), which was topped by Switzerland, the US and Singapore.

  • In the BRICS grouping, China was ranked 42nd, Russia (48th), South Africa (70th) and Brazil at 80th position.

  • India’s highest-ranked sub-pillar is employability, but the ability to match labour market demand and supply stands in contrast to the country's poor "mid-level skills", which result in a mediocre score in vocational and technical skills.

Source : LiveMint
Economy

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

NAGARDHAN EXCAVATIONS
Recent archaeological excavations at Nagardhan, near Nagpur have provided concrete evidence on the life, religious affiliations and trade practices of the Vakataka dynasty that ruled parts of Central and South India between the third and fifth centuries.

About: 

  • Nagardhan is a large village in Nagpur district, about 6 km south of Ramtek taluka headquarters.

  • Nagardhan served as the capital of the Vakataka kingdom.  

  • It is the first time clay sealings have been excavated from Nagardhan. The oval-shaped sealing belongs to the period when Prabhavatigupta was the queen of the Vakataka dynasty. It bears her name in the Brahmi script, along with the depiction of a conch. The presence of the conch, scholars say, is a sign of the Vaishnava affiliation that the Guptas held.  

  • An intact idol of Lord Ganesha, which had no ornaments adorned, too was found from the site. This confirmed that the elephant god was a commonly worshipped deity in those times.  

  • Researchers found animal rearing to be one of the main occupations. Remains of seven species of domestic animals — cattle, goat, sheep, pig, cat, horse and fowl — were traced in an earlier study by the team.

Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

OPERATION ALBERICH
The Oscar-nominated World War I drama ‘1917’ was recently released in India which is based on Operation Alberich.

About: 

  • Operation Alberich was the code name of a German military operation in France during the First World War. 

  • Alberich was a planned strategic withdrawal to new positions on the shorter and more easily defended Hindenburg Line, which took place between 9 February and 20 March 1917.  

  • The retirement eliminated the two salients which had been formed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, between Arras and Saint-Quentin and from Saint-Quentin to Noyon. 

  • The operation is regarded as a tactical success for the Germans, but is criticised for the disproportionate destruction it caused. 

Source : Indian Express
History

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

SHARK ATTACKS
Globally, unprovoked shark attacks have been declining in the last two years, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) compiled by the University of Florida.

About:

  • There were 64 unprovoked bites in 2019, roughly in line with 2018’s 62 bites, and about 22% lower than the most recent five-year (2014-18) average of 82 incidents a year. The recent decline may reflect changes in the migration patterns of blacktip sharks.

  • Countries share: The United States had the highest number of unprovoked attacks in 2019, at 41, and Florida was the US region with the highest number, at 21. Following the US’s 41 cases was Australia with 11; these two countries accounted for over 80% of all cases.

  • Activity of victims at the time of the attacks: Over half of them (53%) were surfing or participating in board sports. These were followed by swimming/wading at 25%, snorkeling/free-diving at 11%, body-surfing/horseplay at 8% and scuba diving at 3%.

Important Info :
  • The Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus) is a critically endangered species of shark found in the Ganges River (Padma River) and the Brahmaputra River of Bangladesh and India.
Source : Indian Express
Environment

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

CENTRAL ADOPTION RESOURCE AUTHORITY (CARA)
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has begun a nationwide capacity building programme for social workers who help assess the suitability of the adoptive family and prepare a child for a new home.

About: 

  • Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is the nodal body for adoption of Indian children. 

  • It regulates in-country and inter-country adoptions (in accordance with the provisions of The Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption, 1993, ratified by Government of India in 2003). 

  • Status: It is an autonomous body of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.

  • The mandatory registration of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) and linking to CARA has been provided in Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. 

Source : The Hindu
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
The Adhoc Committee of the Rajya instituted by Chairman Venkaiah Naidu has made 40 recommendations to prevent sexual abuse of children and to contain access to and transmission of child pornography content on the social media.

About:

  • A clause to be inserted in the POCSO Act, 2012 under which advocating or counseling sexual activities with a person under the age of 18 years is made an offence under the Act.

  • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal shall be designated as the national portal under reporting requirements in POCSO Act in case of electronic material;

  • A new section be included in the IT Act 2000, providing for punitive measures for those providing pornographic access to children and also those who access, produce or transmit Child Sexual Abuse Material(CSAM);

  • Apps that help in monitoring children's access to pornographic content shall be made mandatory on all devices sold in India.

  • On-streaming platforms like Netflix and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc. should have separate adult section where under- aged children could be disallowed;

  • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights(NCPCR) should be designated as the nodal agency to deal with the issue of child pornography.

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shall mandatorily record and report annually cases of child pornography of all kinds.

Source : PIB
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

INDIA – BRAZIL RELATIONS
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was the chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations. The Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade is accorded India’s highest honour in protocol terms.

Action plan to deepen their strategic partnership: 

  • The two sides also concluded 15 agreements/MoU on a variety of issues including an action plan to deepen their strategic partnership. 

  • Under the action plan, existing mechanisms, as well as goals, have been grouped in six major thematic areas. 

  • The India-Brazil Joint Commission for political, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation will be the main forum for monitoring the implementation of the Action Plan and will convene every two years, the action plan states. 

Key MoUs/Agreements exchanged during the Visit:

  • MoU for establishing a nodal institution in India to carry out research on Bioenergy.

  • Investment Cooperation and Facilitation Treaty.

  • Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.

  • MoU on cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy.

  • Cultural Exchange Programme for the period 2020-2024.

  • MoU between Invest India and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency. 

Source : The Hindu
International

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

MERCHANTING TRADE TRANSACTIONS (MTT) – REVISED GUIDELINES
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued the revised guidelines for Merchanting Trade Transactions (MTT) under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999.

About:

  • In Indian Context, the trade is called Merchanting Trade when,
    • The supplier of goods will be resident in one foreign country

    • The buyer of goods will be resident in another foreign country

    • The merchant or the intermediary will be resident in India



  • Merchanting transaction is one which involves shipment of goods from one foreign country to another foreign country involving an Indian Intermediary. Hence, It is also called Intermediary Trade.

  • According to revised guidelines, for a trade to be classified as merchanting trade, goods acquired shall not enter the Domestic Tariff Area. Also, the entire MTT shall be completed within an overall period of nine months. 

Source : RBI
Economy

Current Affairs
Jan. 27, 2020

PARADIP PORT
An inter-ministerial panel has approved a Ministry of Shipping proposal for Paradip Port expansion project.

About:

  • Paradip Port is a natural, deep-water port on the East coast of India in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.

  • It is situated at confluence of the Mahanadi river and the Bay of Bengal.

  • The port is administered by the Paradip Port Trust (PPT), an autonomous corporation under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 functioning under Ministry of Shipping. 

Source : Indian Express
Economy

Jan. 26, 2020

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

PADMA AWARDS 2020
Padma Awards 2020 were announced on the eve of Republic Day. This year the President of India has approved conferment of 141 Padma Awards including 4 duo cases (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one) as per list below. The list comprises of 7 Padma Vibhushan, 16 Padma Bhushan and 118 Padma Shri Awards. The list also includes 18 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 12 Posthumous awardees.

About:

  • Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian Awards of the country conferred in three categories, namely –
    • Padma Vibhushan: For Exceptional and distinguished service.

    • Padma Bhushan: For Distinguished service of high order.

    • Padma Shri: For distinguished service in any field.



  • Disciplines in which awarded: It is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines.

  • Eligibility: All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.

  • Timeline: The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year.

  • Award committee:
    • The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be made.

    • All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary, which is constituted by the PM every year.

    • The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the PM and the President for approval.

    • The awardees are then presented a certificate and a medallion. The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire.



  • Clarification:
    • The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name.

    • The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.

    • The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.

    • A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only after a gap of five years. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.



Important Info :

List of Padma Vibhushan Awardees (7):

  1. George Fernandes (Posthumous), Public Affairs, Bihar
  2. Arun Jaitley (Posthumous), Public Affairs, Delhi
  3. Anerood Jugnauth, GCSK Public Affairs, Mauritius
  4. C. Mary Kom, Sports, Manipur
  5. Chhannulal Mishra, Art, Uttar Pradesh
  6. Sushma Swaraj (Posthumous), Public Affairs, Delhi
  7. Vishveshateertha Swamiji (Posthumous), Others-Spiritualism, Karnataka

List of Padma Bhushan Awardees (16):

  1. Manohar Parrikar (Posthumous), Public Affairs, Goa
  2. V. Sindhu, Sports, Telangana
  3. Mumtaz Ali (Sri M), Others-Spiritualism, Kerala
  4. Syed Muazzem Ali (Posthumous), Public Affairs, Bangladesh
  5. Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Public Affairs, JK
  6. Ajoy Chakravorty, Art, West Bengal
  7. Manoj Das, Literature & Education, Puducherry
  8. Balkrishna Doshi, Others-Architecture, Gujarat
  9. Krishnammal Jagannathan, Social Work, Tamil Nadu
  10. C. Jamir, Public Affairs, Nagaland
  11. Anil Prakash Joshi, Social Work, Uttarakhand
  12. Tsering Landol, Medicine, Ladakh
  13. Anand Mahindra, Trade and Industry, Maharashtra
  14. N R Madhava Menon (Posthumous), Public Affairs, Kerala
  15. Jagdish Sheth, Literature and Education, USA
  16. Venu Srinivasan, Trade and Industry, Tamil Nadu
Source : The Hindu
Awards

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

BHARAT PARV
Bharat Parv, 2020 will be celebrated from 26th to 31st January. Central theme of Bharat Parv 2020 is ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ and ‘Celebrating 150 Years of Mahatma Gandhi.

About:

  • Background: Bharat Parv is being celebrated as part of Republic Day celebrations since 2016.

  • Objective: To generate a patriotic fervour, promote the rich cultural diversity of the country and to popularize the idea of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.

  • Organized by: The Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with other central Ministries.

  • Venue: Red Fort, Delhi.

  • Highlights of this year: The Display of Republic Day Parade Tableaux, Performances by the Armed Forces Bands (Static as well as dynamic), a Multi-Cuisine Food Court, Crafts Mela, and Photo Exhibition by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP).

Source : PIB
Culture

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

JEEVAN RAKSHA PADAK
President of India Ram Nath Kovind has approved the conferment of Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards - 2019 on 54 persons.

About:

  • Objective: Jeevan Raksha Padak series of awards are given to a person for meritorious act of human nature in saving the life of a person.

  • Categories: The award is given in three categories, namely,
    • Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak,

    • Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak and

    • Jeevan Raksha Padak.



  • Eligibility: Persons of all walks of life are eligible for these awards. The award can also be conferred

  • Award ceremony: The decoration of the award (medal, certificate signed by the Union Home Minister and lump sum monetary allowance) is presented to the awardee in due course by the respective Union Ministries/Organizations/State Government to which the awardee belongs.

  • Recent winners: This includes Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak to seven, Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak to eight and Jeevan Raksha Padak to 39 persons. Five awards are posthumous. 

Source : All India Radio
Awards

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

TATRAKSHAK MEDALS
The President of India has approved Tatrakshak Medals to the personnel of the Indian Coast Guard for their act of conspicuous gallantry/meritorious service on the occasion of Republic Day 2020.

About:

  • He awarded three Tatrakshak Medals (Gallantry) and two Tatrakshak Medal (Meritorious Service) to the Indian Coast Guard personnel for their act of conspicuous gallantry and distinguished/meritorious service.

  • These awards are being given to the personnel of Indian Coast Guard on Republic Day and Independence Day every year, since January 26, 1990 onwards. 

Source : PIB
Awards

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

BIOROCKS
The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), with help from Gujarat’s Forest Department, is attempting for the first time a process to restore coral reefs using biorock or mineral accretion technology.

About:

  • Meaning: Biorock is the name given to the substance formed by electro accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater on steel structures that are lowered onto the sea bed and are connected to a power source, in this case solar panels that float on the surface.

  • Working:
    • The technology works by passing a small amount of electrical current through electrodes in the water.

    • When a positively charged anode and negatively charged cathode are placed on the sea floor, with an electric current flowing between them, calcium ions combine with carbonate ions and adhere to the structure (cathode). This results in calcium carbonate formation. Coral larvae adhere to the CaCO3 and grow quickly.



  • Significance: Technology helps corals to counter the threats posed by global warming.

  • Recent imitative:
    • A biorock structure was installed one nautical mile off the Mithapur coast in the Gulf of Kutch on January 19.

    • The location for installing the biorock had been chosen keeping in mind the high tidal amplitude in the Gulf of Kutch. The low tide depth where the biorock has been installed is four metres, and at high tide it is about eight metres. 



Source : The Hindu
Environment

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

RESERVATION FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Supreme court (SC) has affirmed 3% quota for disabled persons both in direct recruitment and in promotions in PSUs.

About:

  • The Supreme Court has granted relief to persons with disabilities by allowing reservation in promotion in all groups for those employed in public sector jobs. It confirmed that 3% reservation should be given to disabled persons both in direct recruitment and in promotions.

  • Arguments by court:
    • Reservation for disabled is granted under Article 16(1) of the Constitution.

    • The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 emphasises that “employment is a key factor in the empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities”. 



Important Info :

Rajeev Kumar Gupta judgment (2016):

  • The judgment confirms a 2016 verdict of the top court in Rajeev Kumar Gupta’s case that granted reservation in promotion to disabled persons employed in Groups A and B in addition to Groups C and D in the public sector.
  • The 2016 judgment had held that wherever posts were identified to be suitable for persons with disabilities, 3% reservation must be given.
  • The government had however challenged the judgement, leading to the reference to the larger Bench. The government had referred to the Indira Sawhney case, which had capped reservation at 50% and prohibited reservation in promotions.
  • But supreme court countered that the Sawhney judgment only pertained to the Backward Classes. It has no relevance to the case of persons with disabilities. 
Source : The Hindu
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

NESYAMUN
For the first time, scientists have reconstructed the voice of an ancient human being, that of a 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy named Nesyamun (as per his coffin inscriptions).

About:

  • Nesyamun: Nesyamun, also known as The Leeds Mummy, is an Egyptian mummy from around 1100 BC held at Leeds City Museum. Nesyamun was a priest, incense-bearer and scribe at the Egyptian temple complex at Karnak. He died in around 1100 BC.

  • Sound reproduction: The sound, which has been reproduced, is “vowel-like” and has been produced based on precise measurements of the mummy’s existing vocal tract.

  • How was it done?
    • These measurements were determined by taking a computerised tomography (CT) scan of the mummy. The researchers then built a three dimensional model of the mummy’s vocal tract using a 3D printer and by connecting it to an electronic larynx were able to produce an output.

    • The process of creating three-dimensional printed vocal tracts was based on a technique proposed by Bertrand Delvaux.



  • Significance of Sound reproduction: One of the modern applications of this voice synthesis technique includes “giving back” vocal sounds to those individuals who have lost normal vocal fold function following physical trauma, for instance. 

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

ASHUGANJ-AKHAURA ROAD PROJECT
India and Bangladesh signed an agreement to upgrade the 50 km long road between Ashuganj river port and the Akhaura land port in Bangladesh into a 4-lane highway.

About:

  • The project is part of the dollar 2 billion second line of credit extended by India to Bangladesh in 2016. The project will boost connectivity between Bangladesh and North-eastern part of India which will facilitate sub-regional connectivity among South and South-east Asian countries.

  • The deal to upgrade the 39 km long road between Ashuganj river port to Dharhar area was signed between the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) of Bangladesh and an Indian Company Afcons Infrastructure Limited.

  • The RHD and an India-Bangladesh joint venture firm will take up the work of upgrading the remaining part of the road from Dharhar to Akhaura. 

Source : All India Radio
International

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

E-WASTE CLINIC
India's first e-waste clinic opened in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

About:

  • The e-waste clinic is jointly setting up by the Central Pollution Control Board-CPCB and Bhopal Municipal Corporation-BMC.

  • It would enable segregation, processing and disposal of waste from both household and commercial units. Electronic waste will be collected door-to-door or could be deposited directly at the e-waste clinic. The CPCB will provide technical support to the clinic.

  • The e-waste clinic is being started on the basis of a three-month pilot project. If this project is successful, e-waste clinics will be established at other places in the country. 

Source : All India Radio
Environment

Current Affairs
Jan. 26, 2020

RESINIFERATOXIN
Researchers have identified for the first time the mechanism by which chronic stress causes hair colour loss, an advance that may lead to the development of novel drugs which can prevent the whitening of hair.

About:

  • In the study, scientists induced intense pain in special black mice for several weeks using a substance called resiniferatoxin, and turned the animals' fur completely white.

  • Resiniferatoxin, which activated sensory nerve fibres, is a naturally occurring chemical found in resin spurge (Euphorbia resinifera), a cactus-like plant native to Morocco.

  • According to the scientists, the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers the body's rapid involuntary response to dangerous situations, is affected directly by the stress, and consists of nerves that branch from the spine and run throughout the body. The researchers observed that when the sympathetic nervous system was blocked, hair whitening was curbed.

Source : All India Radio
Science & Tech
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