24th May, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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EC to launch app to help voters share malpractice proof (GS-2 Polity)
Model Code of Conduct Violation Reporting App
1.The Election Commission will launch a multi-lingual mobile application empowering people across the country to share evidence of malpractice by political parties, their candidates and activists ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, directly with the electoral body
2.The application helps prevent abuse of money and muscle power, allows for sharing of photos and short audio and video clips from the spot itself along with geolocation
3.Through this mechanism, EC intends to encourage larger public participation in checking corrupt practices and ensuring a free and fair election process
1.Such an application was made available for the first time in Bengaluru in the run-up to the recently concluded Karnataka Assembly polls
2.As part of the implementation, the application will also be made operational in the coming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh
Tackling social media
1.The growing abuse of social media bots for influencing public opinion has emerged as another major challenge for the Election Commission and plans are on to devise a counter mechanism
2.These bots are automated accounts often active on popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, which use Artificial Intelligence to trigger and influence political debates with an objective to shape public opinion.
3.A social media cell is already functional in order to address such challenges in the cyber world
International trade tensions: a worry for Asia(GS-3 Economy)
The uncertainty in the global trade environment does not bode well for Asian economies that are heavily dependent on international trade and investment as a means of sustained growth
The growth decade between 2002 and 2017
1.Between 2002 and 2017, economic growth in Asia averaged about 6% annually which expanded about 4% on an average
2.Consequently, Asia’s share of GDP rose from 25% in 2002 to about 35% in 2017
3.Asia’s share of global exports spiked from about 29% in 2002 to 38% in 2017,
while its share of global imports increased from about 22% to 31% during the period
The tit-for-tat tariff threats by the US and China
1.The Donald Trump administration announced the imposition of tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese imports
2.This was in addition to the more general tariffs imposed on washing machines, solar panels, steel and aluminium imports on China and its other trading partners
3.China, in turn, has threatened retaliatory tariffs worth $3 billion of goods from the US with 90% in food-related products and the rest in steel tubes and aluminium products
Both parties have a role to play in the US-China and overall global trade tensions
China is not following the WTO rules for its aspirations
1.China is working on the “Made in China 2025” (inspired by Germany’s “Industry 4.0 plan”) which aims to develop world-class dominance in 10 domestic tech-manufacturing industries
2.In so doing, critics have argued that China has failed at times to respect the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and Trade Related Aspects of Investment Measures (TRIMs)
3.Counter view: Others have argued that the WTO itself is ill-equipped to deal with the unique challenges posed by a rising China with its unique economic structure
The US has undertaken aggressive unilateralism
1.The US administration has undertaken aggressive unilateralism due to its “diminished giant syndrome”
2.The trade threats make it look as if “America believes in the law of the jungle rather than the rule of law”
Possible implications for Asia
1.For now, the global trade environment will be much less buoyant and much more uncertain than it was in the past
2.This does not bode well for Asian economies, particularly those, which are heavily dependent on international trade and investment as a means of sustained growth
3.For the rest of Asia, it is critical that they reaffirm the importance of an open, transparent and rules-based multilateral trading system,
4.while pushing forward with greater intra-regional trade initiatives that are of mutual benefit
Solar system’s first interstellar immigrant discovered (GS-3 science & tech)
Scientists have discovered the first known permanent immigrant to the solar system an asteroid, nestling in Jupiter’s orbit, which migrated from another star system.
1.All the planets in the solar system travel around the Sun.
2.But this asteroid, named (514107) 2015 BZ509, moves in the opposite direction, referred to as ‘retrograde’ orbit.
Indo-Dutch Startup Initiative: StartUpLink to be Launched (GS-2 IR)
The Indo-Dutch #StartUpLink is developed for Indian and Dutch startups that are exploring each other’s markets and offers access to key information, relevant networks, pilot opportunities, and navigators for the respective startup ecosystems.
1.Startup India Hub under Invest India and Netherlands Enterprise Agency under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Change would act as single points of contact and navigators for their respective countries.
2.As a partner for the Indo Dutch #StartUpLink, Shell has come on board with the aim of accelerating India’s transition to a sustainable energy future.
3.The Indo-Dutch #StartUpLink is developed for Indian and Dutch startups that are exploring each other’s markets and offers access to key information, relevant networks, pilot opportunities, and navigators for the respective startup ecosystems
4.‘Clean Air’ India Ring, a critical component of the Indo-Dutch #StartUpLink, will be launched on 24th May. The initiative is a multi-corporate challenge that will test and scale innovations through collaboration between startups, corporates and governments by providing pilot opportunities for promising innovations that solve the problem of pollution.
Curtain Raiser: India-Nepal Joint Battalion Level Exercise SURYA KIRAN-XIII(GS-2 IR, prelims)
Joint Military Exercise SURYA KIRAN-XIII between India and Nepal will be conducted at Pithoragarh from 30 May to 12 June 2018.
1. Exercise SURYA KIRAN is a biannual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India.
2. Notably in the series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, Exercise SURYA KIRAN with Nepal is the largest in terms of troop participation.
3. The exercise will comprise of nearly 300 soldiers from both Indian and Nepal Army who would be sharing their experiences gained during conduct of various counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations in the past
4. The aim of this exercise is to conduct battalion level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorism operations in mountainous terrain. During the exercise, aspects of disaster management and joint effort towards relief work have also been included.
5. The joint military exercise will enhance the level of defence cooperation which will further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two nations.
CLAT is in the courts(GS-2, polity)
Many cases have been filed in various High Courts due to controversy in conduct of national law entrance exam.
*The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is the biggest and most important of all law entrance examinations in India.
*It is conducted by India’s 19 National Law Universities by rotation, in the order of their dates of establishment.
*CLAT was organised for the first time in 2008 which enabled more than 40,000 candidates to take exams and get enrolled in law institutions every year after their Class XII exam.
*It is an online exam which covers a wide range of topics including general knowledge and current affairs, numerical ability, legal aptitude, and logical reasoning for 200 marks in 120 minutes.
*This year, the organising university was the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi.
What is the controversy about?
*The candidates appearing for the CLAT this year faced many challenges in completing the exam successfully due to technical glitches and mismanagement.
*Mismanagement was on part of the organising university NUALS, hence majority of the candidates were affected and now have lesser chances of clearing the exam with good scores.
*Many cases have been filed in various High Courts as these issues would be directly upsetting the candidates’ careers.
Issues faced by the candidates
1.There was technical error in the computers, which increased the time taken to navigate between questions.
2.Many of the students dint receive computers which weren’t functioning properly and that was the case with almost all computers in many centres.
3.Some students complained that they had to keep entering passwords for every answer and this reduced the time which they had to answer other questions.
4.Air conditioners weren’t functioning in many centres which affected the servers which had to hold the load of so many computers.
5.Even signing attendance sheets caused much trouble, as students were interrupted between exams to fill the sheets.
6.There were no invigilators in some labs to oversee such issues as and when they arise.
Cabinet okays ordinance to set up India’s first sports varsity in Manipur (GS-2 Governance, prelims)
The Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to set up the country’s first national sports university in in Imphal (west), ManipurThe ordinance is on the lines of National Sports University Bill, 2017 which is pending in Parliament (introduced in Lok Sabha in August, 2017
1.The specialised university will be the first of its kind in the country and adopt best international practices. Manipur government has already allocated land for the proposed university
2.The proposed university is expected to bridge gap that exists in sports environment of country in various areas such as sports science, sports technology, high performance training.
3.It also empowers the University to grant degrees, diplomas and certificates. It also allows Government to establish campuses and study centres in other parts of the country
Objectives of National Sports University
1.Research, development and dissemination of knowledge in physical education and sports sciences.
2.Strengthening physical education and sports training programmes
3.Generating knowledge capabilities, skills and competence at various levels.
4.Training talented athletes to help them to evolve into international level athletes
New satellites to keep track of earth’s water (GS-3 Science & Tech)
* The reason we know today just how much ice is melting in Greenland and Antarctica is because of a pair of satellites, launched in 2002 by NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).
* Now, they are set to be replaced by a more modern duo.
1.A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket hoisting into orbit the spacecraft known as GRACE-FO, a follow-on to the prior, 15-year mission known as the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).
2.Two satellites, each the size of a car, will circle the Earth at a distance of 220 km from each other. They will be flying about 490 km above the Earth for the next five years.
3.The satellites will use a monthly reference point. When ice melts, the oceans’ mass rises. When it rains a lot in a certain region, the volume of the aquifers mounts. The satellites will pick this up, and the data will show that the mass in a certain area was higher than it was in the prior month, or year.
4.That is how the GRACE-FO satellites will establish a map of the water on Earth, every 30 days, showing which areas have more and which have less, whether above or below ground. They will operate with a precision equivalent to a change of 0.4 inches (one cm) in water height across areas of about 340 km in diameter.
5.The prior mission, GRACE, allowed scientists to gain an understanding of how much ice Greenland was losing. It was more than they thought, based on ground-observations.
6.The satellites were also able to track just how much ice Antarctica was losing, and produced colourful maps that showed losses in red and gains in blue.
7.Renewing the mission will allow scientists to continue to track trends in sea level rise, glacial and ice melt, and the drying up of certain aquifers.