11th May, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Malaysian Prime Minister’
(Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Ninety-two-year-old Mahathir Mohammad was Thursday sworn in as the world’s oldest elected leader after a stunning election win that swept Malaysia’s establishment from power after more than six decades.
There are two major parts to this country, Peninsular Malaysia to the west and East Malaysia to the east, in additional numerous smaller islands surrounding both landmasses. Peninsular Malaysia is situated on the southernmost section of the Malay Peninsula, south of Thailand, north of Singapore and east of the Indonesian island of Sumatra; East Malaysia comprises most of the northern part of Borneo island, with land borders shared with Brunei to the north and Indonesian Borneo which is to the south.
Located near the equator, Malaysia’s climate is categorized as equatorial, being hot and humid throughout the year. The average rainfall is 250 centimetres (98 in) a year and the average temperature is 27 °C (80.6 °F). The climates of the Peninsula and the East differ, as the climate on the peninsula is directly affected by wind from the mainland, as opposed to the more maritime weather of the East. Malaysia is exposed to the El Niño effect, which reduces rainfall in the dry season.
‘Iran Nuclear Deal’
(GS2: Effects of developed countries on India’s interests)
Issue: India will safeguard its interest following the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.
India’s official position post US decision to rescind from Iran deal
India has maintained that peaceful negotiations should be carried out to resolve the situation that has risen after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the deal. Russia, China, the U.K., Germany, Italy and France are the other signatories to the deal.
Main concern for India if sanctions are placed on Iran
1. Oil import would be affected
2. Possibility of greater unrest in the middle east where India has sizeable economic and cultural relations
3. Main economic impact would be on the port of Chabahar where India is involved in upgrading and developing infrastructure. The future of India’s work at the port would depend on how strictly the U.S. implements sanctions on countries that maintain business ties with Tehran.
About JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union.
Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organisation on 29 July 1957. Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council
The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna.
(GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari said the government will spend ₹8,000 to ₹10,000 crore this year to ensure that at least 70% of the Ganga will be clean by next May.
1. The government has only spent ₹4,500 crore since 2015 when the ₹20,000-crore tranche for cleaning the 2,500-km long river was operationalised.
2. A total of 195 projects worth ₹20,959 crore have been sanctioned for various activities such as sewage infrastructure, ghats and crematoria development, river-front development and river surface cleaning.
‘USA-North Korea summit’
(GS3: International relations)
Issue: U.S. President Donald Trump on May 10 announced his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will take place in Singapore on June 12.
About the summit
The two leaders are expected to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and testing programme, which has deepened long-seated tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
Issue: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday visited the Army base camp located at an altitude of 18,875 feet in Siachen in Ladakh, first time by a President in 14 years.
The Siachen Glacier is a glacier located in the eastern Karakoram ranges in the Himalayas at about just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends. At 76 km (47 mi) long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world’s non-polar areas
(GS2: Bilateral ties)
Issue: India will be a strong partner of Nepal as Kathmandu consolidates the benefits of democratic rule, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicating the agenda for the May 11-12 trip to the Himalayan country.
Topics to be discussed during the visit
1. Starting the Arun III hydropower project is the main highlight of the visit.
2. Both sides are likely to discuss the Pancheshwar power project
3. PM will visit the famous temple of Sita at Janakpur and attend a civic reception in the city where he is expected to announce measures to integrate the city to the Ramayana tourism circuit.
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: To promote electric vehicles in India, the government has approved green license plates bearing numbers in white fonts for private e-vehicles and yellow for taxis
The government also plans to allow youth in the age bracket of 16-18 years to drive electric scooters, besides mandating taxi aggregators to have a certain percentage of e-vehicle fleet.
Other attractive measures offered by the government to promote E-vehicles
1. Exemption from permit will be a game changer as restricted permit regime is a major concern
2. All public transport operators may also be mandated to provide 1 per cent incremental fleet from 2020 onwards
3. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will request the Finance Ministry that the rate of depreciation on EVs may be allowed at 50 per cent as against the rate of 15 per cent for conventional vehicles.
4. The proposals include bringing down the GST on batteries to 12 per cent at par with the GST on EVs.
(GS2: Global groupings)
Issue: A UN report on the Asia-Pacific region has urged the regional powers to invest in inclusive and sustainable growth. The UN Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2018
Highlights of the report
1. Governments of countries in the Asia-Pacific region are advised to take advantage of the currently favorable economic conditions in order to address vulnerabilities and enhance the resilience, inclusiveness and sustainability of their economies
2. The report described South and Southwest Asia as the fastest growing sub region of the Asia-Pacific region and urged the countries to increase social spending.
About United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. Made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members, with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, the region is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population. This makes ESCAP the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions, and the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff.
Established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, ESCAP works to overcome some of the region’s greatest challenges by providing results oriented projects, technical assistance and capacity building to member States in the following areas:
* Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development
* Trade, Investment and Innovation
* Environment and Development
* Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction
* Social Development
* Sub-regional activities for development
ESCAP is committed to a resilient Asia and the Pacific founded on shared prosperity, social equity and sustainability. Our vision is to be the most comprehensive multilateral platform for promoting cooperation among member States to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific.
‘Taj Mahal discoloration’
(GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Unwashed socks worn by visitors and rampant algae seem to turn the Taj Mahal from its natural white to yellow, brown and green, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), charged with the maintenance of the historic monument, told the Supreme Court
Current scenario of Taj Mahal
The upkeep of the UNESCO World Heritage site was in shambles. River Yamuna, which used to flow nearby, had dried up. Encroachments and industries have cropped up in the neighborhood of the white marble mausoleum.
About Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is located on the right bank of the Yamuna River in a vast Mughal garden that encompasses nearly 17 hectares, in the Agra District in Uttar Pradesh. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal with construction starting in 1632 AD and completed in 1648 AD, with the mosque, the guest house and the main gateway on the south, the outer courtyard and its cloisters were added subsequently and completed in 1653 AD. The existence of several historical and Quaranic inscriptions in Arabic script have facilitated setting the chronology of Taj Mahal. For its construction, masons, stone-cutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from the Central Asia and Iran. Ustad-Ahmad Lahori was the main architect of the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture. Its recognised architectonic beauty has a rhythmic combination of solids and voids, concave and convex and light shadow; such as arches and domes further increases the aesthetic aspect. The color combination of lush green scape reddish pathway and blue sky over it show cases the monument in ever changing tints and moods. The relief work in marble and inlay with precious and semi precious stones make it a monument apart.
‘World’s second oldest rock’
Issue: A rock sample recovered nearly eight years ago from Champua in Odisha’s Kendujhar district has put India at the forefront of geological research in the world.
About the discovery
Scientists have found in the rock a grain of magmatic zircon (a mineral that contains traces of radioactive isotopes) that is an estimated 4,240 million years old — a discovery of great promise to study the earth’s early years.
The only instance of zircon older than this discovery was the one found in Jack Hill, Western Australia, which was 4,400 million years old and is the oldest known rock sample.
16th European Conference in Earthquake Engineering
(GS1: Geophysical phenomenon)
Issue: The soft foundational soil beneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy has helped it stand through numerous strong earthquakes since 1280, say scientists who unveiled the mystery behind how the structure remained undamaged, despite leaning at a precarious five-degree angle.
The results from the study will be formally announced at the 16th European Conference in Earthquake Engineering taking place in Greece
About Dynamic soil-structure interaction (DSSI)
The considerable height and stiffness of the Tower combined with the softness of the foundation soil, causes the vibrational characteristics of the structure to be modified substantially, in such a way that the Tower does not resonate with earthquake ground motion. This has been the key to its survival.
(Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Today’s Doodle celebrates Indian classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai, who quickly developed her own technique, spirit, and strength by training at a young age, studying both the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam and the classical dance-drama of Kathakali.
About Mrinalini Sarabhai
She was the founder of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, an institute for imparting training in dance, drama, music and puppetry, in the city of Ahmedabad. She received many awards and citations in recognitions of her contribution to art. She trained over 18,000 students in Bharatnatyam and Kathakali.
Besides choreographing more than three hundred dance dramas,she has also written many novels, poetry, plays and stories for children. Mrinalini Sarabhai has been awarded by the Indian government with the national civilian awards Padma Bhushan in 1992
‘Ebola outbreak in Congo’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Bikoro in Equateur Province
Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) or simply Ebola, is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebola viruses. Signs and symptoms typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus with a fever, sore throat, muscular pain, and headaches. Then, vomiting, diarrhea and rash usually follow, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. At this time, some people begin to bleed both internally and externally. The disease has a high risk of death, killing between 25 and 90 percent of those infected, with an average of about 50 percent. This is often due to low blood pressure from fluid loss, and typically follows six to sixteen days after symptoms appear
The virus spreads by direct contact with body fluids, such as blood, of infected human or other animals. This may also occur through contact with an item recently contaminated with bodily fluids.