11 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘India-South Korea ties’ (GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: India and South Korea vowed to more than double trade in the next decade, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with the visiting President Moon Jae-in.
Other agreements agreed to include:
- The two sides signed 11 MoUs and agreements, including a statement on expanding the 2010 Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
- A joint vision statement that committed to more military exchanges and enhancing defence projects together.
- India and South Korea also have agreed to cooperate on a “tripartite” basis in development assistance in third countries, beginning with a project in Afghanistan
- Both leaders were committed to strengthening the “special strategic partnership” in the region and aligning India’s Act East Policy with South Korea’s New Southern Policy.
- A cultural exchange programme for the period 2018-2022 was also signed between the two
- An agreement was also signed to upgrade and expand an existing monument in Ayodhya commemorating Princess Suriratna, a legendary princess who went Korea and married a Korean king, Kim-Suro
‘Ease of Doing Business’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Andhra Pradesh has topped the third edition of the government’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index for States with a final score of 98.42%. This is the second time in a row that A.P. achieved the first rank.
Telangana and Jharkhand trailed behind A.P. though they scored 100% in reform evidence score.
About the scoring process
- The topping southern state was followed by Telangana, according to the third edition of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion’s (DIPP’s) Business Reforms Action Plan, 2017.
- The final rankings were arrived at after a combination of “reform evidence score” and “feedback score”.
- The “reform evidence score” is allotted on the basis of 372 recommendations for reforms on regulatory processes, policies, practices and procedures spread across 12 reform areas.
- In this year’s edition of rankings, DIPP carried out a comprehensive business-to-government (B2G) feedback exercise, where feedback was taken from businesses on the quality of implementation of the reforms claimed by the states.
‘Ramayana Express’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: The Indian Railways is introducing a special tourist train this November which will visit places associated with Hindu epic Ramayana. The Shri Ramayana Express will commence in New Delhi and travel from Ayodhya to Rameshwaram
Places to be covered under the plan
The special train will depart from Safdarjung Railway station New Delhi on November 14 and take 16 days to complete its journey. It will first stop in Ayodhya before making halts at Nandigram, Sitamarhi, Janakpur, Varanasi, Prayag, Shringaverpur, Chitrakoot, Hampi, Nasik and Rameshwaram.
‘Ring of Fire’ (GS3: Disaster Management)
Issue: Since 1970, more than two million people have been killed by natural disasters in the ‘Ring of Fire’ region around the Pacific Ocean, an average of 43,000 a year, as per the United Nations (UN).
There is a way to dramatically cut down on the number of people impacted by such disasters, and that is by using data.
Methodology to achieve that includes:
- If we are to save lives and prevent damage to economies, it is critical to identify the most vulnerable populations
- Data on these communities can be used to pursue ‘risk-informed development’. For instance, road infrastructure can be built by calculating the intensity of floods and determining the types of materials needed to construct durable roads
- India recently embarked on an initiative to establish a comprehensive disaster database system. Now, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), working with partners, has established National Disaster Loss and Damage databases in 16 countries.
Other major collaborations in this area include:
To further advance resilience in the region, in 2015, the UNDP partnered with the Tohoku University and Fujitsu to create a Global Centre for Disaster Statistics (GCDS).
The aim is to gather and crunch ‘big data’ to meet the ambitious targets of the Sendai Framework to reduce the risks from disasters. Fujitsu’s cloud-based ecosystem captures data from a variety of sources, including unstructured sources like social media, high-resolution satellite imagery and drones. Specialized technical institutions like the Tohoku University can crunch and analyze these data sets to provide insights for policymakers about the impacts of disasters. This includes helping to monitor recovery, focusing on early warning, and assessing resilience.
‘Vulnerability of Indian Computers’ (GS3: Cyber-security)
Issue: Over 60% of the personal computers in India were vulnerable to cyber crimes. As many as 18% of routers, 17% phones, 14% printers, 25% network associated storages, 4% security cameras and 2% media boxes too were vulnerable to threats in India. In comparison, only 9% of personal computers, 3% phones, 25% of routers, 16% of printers and 23% of security cameras in Japan were under threat.
Steps to combat this challenge
- Government-enabled regulations can prevent cyber crimes with the growth of Internet of Things (IoT)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in IoT safety. In future, AI will identify malicious and legitimate behavior
‘Western Ghats’ (GS3: Indian Environment)
Issue: Older than the Himalayas and well known for its rich and unique flora and fauna, the Western Ghats has figured in Lonely Planet’s top five “2018 Best in Asia” list, a collection of 10 of the best destinations to visit in the continent for the year.
Significance of Western Ghats
Western Ghats supports the life of 7,402 species of flowering plants, 1814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6000 insect species and 290 freshwater fish species.
One of the Hottest Biodiversity Hotspots and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Western Ghats has came fourth in the list of the Lonely Planet, considered a Bible by travelers worldwide. Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana), which has started blooming after 12 years in the famed hill station of Munnar has found mention in report
‘Combating Dengue’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: More than 80% of a dengue fever-spreading mosquito has been wiped out in an Australian town during a landmark trial, offering hope for combating the dangerous pest globally.
- Researchers from Australia’s national science body CSIRO bred millions of non-biting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in laboratory conditions at James Cook University (JCU) in a project funded by Google parent company Alphabet.
- The insects were infected with the Wolbachia bacteria, which renders them sterile.
- They were then released into the wild at trial sites around the Queensland town of Innisfail where over three months they mated with females who laid eggs that did not hatch, causing the population to plummet.
The so-called sterile insect technique has been used before but the challenge in making it work for mosquitoes was being able to rear enough of them, identify males, remove biting females, and then release them in large enough numbers to suppress a population.
Verily — a life sciences company funded by Alphabet — has developed a mosquito rearing, sex sorting and release technology as part of its global Debug project.
Dengue and India
India has confirmed Dengue cases nationally. Recent cases have been reported in the following areas: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
Dengue is endemic in India. Transmission occurs year-round in southern areas and from April through November in northern states.
Dengue is a viral infection caused by four types of viruses (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, DENV-4) belonging to the Flaviviridae family. The viruses are transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus female mosquitoes that feed both indoors and outdoors during the daytime (from dawn to dusk). These mosquitoes thrive in areas with standing water, including puddles, water tanks, containers and old tires. Lack of reliable sanitation and regular garbage collection also contribute to the spread of the mosquitoes.
‘Chairman of Rajya Sabha’ (GS2: Union Legislature)
Issue: Rajya Sabha has, for the first time in 76 years since it came into being, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a foreign counterpart for promoting inter-parliamentary dialogue.
The MOU with 6 articles of cooperation seeks to promote Inter-Parliamentary dialogue, Capacity building of parliamentary staff, Organisation of conferences, forums, seminars, staff attachment programmes, workshops and exchanges, Collaboration in mutual interest in regional and international multilateral parliamentary bodies in furtherance of bilateral relations and friendship between the two countries.
‘India-Republic of Marshal Islands’ (GS2: Bilateral Relations)
Issue: The Union Minister of State (MoS) for Human Resource Development Shri Upendra Kushwaha is on an Official Visit to the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI). This is the first ever ministerial visit from India to Majuro, Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI). India was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) in April 1995.
Some of the areas in which India is collaborating with RMI include:
- Both sides reviewed bilateral relations and reaffirmed their commitment to further advance ties in a host of areas such as blue economy, adaptation-mitigation practices for climate change, disaster preparedness, health, education, renewable energy among others.
- In the field of education, healthcare and wellness, acknowledging the importance of yoga, RMI side showed keenness in disseminating yoga to youth through schools and to also tap into India’s expertise in overcoming physical connectivity challenges through tele-medicine and tele-education.
- In view of the growing bilateral collaboration in the field of solar energy, RMI also shared its interest to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) at the earliest.
- On the issue of UNSC reforms, RMI acknowledged the need for early reform of the Council and expressed strong support for India’s permanent membership at the reformed UNSC.
- India committed to extend a grant of USD 300,000 for a Water and Sanitation Project Proposal of Aur Atoll Local Government. Since 2005, India has extended grant assistance to the tune of USD 1.35 million for various projects relating to purchase of equipment, disaster relief, national export strategy, community and local government projects harnessing solar energy among others. India also offers five slots to nationals of RMI at the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.
- Both sides also discussed ways to cooperate under the framework of Forum for India Pacific Islands Co-operation (FIPIC). India engages with the Pacific Island Countries on a wide range of issues including climate change. FIPIC was formed in November 2014, to strengthen India’s relationship with the Pacific Island Countries.
Marshall Islands, officially Republic of the Marshall Islands, country in the central Pacific Ocean
The Marshalls are composed of more than 1,200 islands and islets in two parallel chains of coral atolls—the Ratak, or Sunrise, to the east and the Ralik, or Sunset, to the west. The chains lie about 125 miles (200 km) apart and extend some 800 miles northwest to southeast.
The Marshalls were administered by the United States as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands from 1947 to 1986, when the Trust Territory was dissolved by the U.S. government.
The climate is tropical, with a mean annual temperature for the entire group of 82 °F (28 °C). Annual precipitation varies from 20 to 30 inches (500 to 800 mm) in the north to 160 inches in the southern atolls. The wettest months are October and November. Several of the northern atolls are uninhabited owing to insufficient rainfall.
Coconut and pandanus palms and breadfruit trees are the principal vegetation. Soils are generally sandy and low in fertility.
What is an Atoll?
An atoll sometimes called a coral atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. There may be coral islands or cays on the rim. The coral of the atoll often sits atop the rim of an extinct seamount or volcano which has eroded or subsided partially beneath the water. The lagoon forms over the volcanic crater or caldera while the higher rim remains above water or at shallow depths that permit the coral to grow and form the reefs. For the atoll to persist, continued erosion or subsidence must be at a rate slow enough to permit reef growth upwards and outwards to replace the lost height
‘Rajya Sabha’ (GS2: Union Legislature)
Issue: Rajya Sabha members can speak in any of the 22 scheduled languages from the monsoon session of Parliament beginning on July 18, with the Secretariat arranging simultaneous interpretation for five more languages: Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Santhali and Sindhi.
However, the members have to give notice of a reasonable period for the interpreter.
What are Schedule languages in India?
Scheduled language of India refers to the list of language in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India. The languages have special status. Government of India is under the obligation to develop these languages.
These languages are
‘India’s GDP’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India has become the world’s sixth-biggest economy, pushing France into seventh place, according to updated World Bank figures for 2017.
What the report says?
- India’s gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France. India’s economy rebounded strongly from July 2017
- Manufacturing and consumer spending were the main drivers of the Indian economy last year, after a slowdown blamed on the demonetization of large banknotes that Modi imposed at the end of 2016, as well as a chaotic implementation of a new harmonized goods and service tax regime.
- India has doubled its GDP within a decade and is expected to power ahead as a key economic engine in Asia, even as China slows down.
- At the end of 2017, Britain was still the world’s fifth-biggest economy with a GDP of $2.622 trillion. The US is the world’s top economy, followed by China, Japan and Germany.
‘Most Diverse State’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The release of linguistic data from the 2011 census allows us to objectively conclude that Nagaland is the most linguistically diverse state in India, with Kerala being the least diverse.
Originally developed to quantify the degree of monopoly or competition in an industry, the Herfindahl-Hirschmann Index (HHI), it is defined as the sum of the square of the market share of each company in an industry. For an industry with perfect competition (a large number of companies, each with infinitesimal market share), the HHI comes close to zero. For a monopoly, the HHI is one.
Kerala is the least diverse state as far as languages are concerned, with 97% of the state’s residents (in 2011) identifying Malayalam as their mother tongue
‘World Population Day 2018’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: As India marks yet another World Population Day, questions will inevitably be asked about the burden or benefit of the country’s demography
Current situation in India with respect to Population
- Even as the country is on a race to reach replacement levels (where births compensate for deaths, and population stabilizes) in northern India, ageing is already under way in many southern states, leaving the country with the potential twin burden of too many young people and too many old people concentrated in different geographies.
- Even as the people in the ideal age (15-64) band increased, for every 100 workers there were 193 dependents in 1991. This number rose to 223 in 2001, based on census estimates, and has only worsened since as education and jobs remain big challenges.
- While India’s overall population would grow for another 20-30 years, much of the growth would happen in poorer states, resulting in a huge spike in internal migration.
- With Kerala or Tamil Nadu far closer to Western Europe in terms of the fertility rate, and the Gangetic belt closer to Africa, a tiff similar to the ongoing international backlash against migration may play out within India
Population will increasingly become a significant dilemma that the Indian union will have to confront, because of the emerging wide disparities between the west and the south, and the north and the east
About World Population day
World Population Day is celebrated worldwide to spread awareness and discuss issues related to population growth. Every year, the United Nations has a different theme for World Population Day.
The theme of World Population Day 2018 is ”Family planning is a human right”. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights. Despite being the first country in the world to adopt family planning, the issue of population prevails in India. Therefore, this World Population Day, it is of extreme importance to make people aware about population explosion, their advantages and disadvantages on people across the globe and if the population continues to grow like this, it will not be able to sustain.