18 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Mob Lynching’ (GS3: Challenges to Internal Security through Social media)
Issue: The Supreme Court on Tuesday condemned the recent spate of lynching as “horrendous acts of mobocracy” and told Parliament to make lynching a separate offence.
Other observations made in the judgment
- Describing lynchings and mob violence as “creeping threats”, the court warned that the rising wave of frenzied mobs — fed by fake news, self-professed morality and false stories — would consume the country like a “typhoon-like monster.”
- It said the primary obligation of the government is to protect all individuals irrespective of race, caste, class or religion.
- It directed several preventive, remedial and punitive measures to deal with lynching and mob violence. It ordered the Centre and the States to implement the measures and file compliance reports within the next four weeks.
‘India’s immunization programme’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: In 2017, an estimated 19.9 million infants worldwide were not reached with routine services such as three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP vaccine). Around 60 per cent of these children live in 10 countries — Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
Other observations made in the report
- The report highlighted that more concerted efforts needed to reach universal immunization coverage.
- Of the 19.9 million infants who are not fully vaccinated with DTP3, almost 8 million (40 per cent) live in fragile or humanitarian settings, including countries affected by conflict.
- Newly available vaccines are being added as part of the life-saving vaccination package — such as those to protect against meningitis, malaria and even Ebola. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, and can cause cervical cancer, other types of cancer, and genital warts in both men and women. In 2017, the HPV vaccine was introduced in 80 countries.
- Vaccines to prevent against major killers of children such as rotavirus, a disease that causes severe childhood diarrhoea, and pneumonia have been around for over a decade. But the use of rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) is lagging behind. In 2017, global coverage was only 28 per cent for rotavirus and 44 per cent for PCV.
‘Veeragallu’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: Veeragallu or hero stones — six were found near the Ramanjaneya temple in Bannerghatta and three in Avathi village in Devanahalli on the outskirts of the city — may have a greater chance of surviving. The Karnataka Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage have written to the tehsildars of these respective areas to preserve these stones for posterity.
About this artifact
- The city’s history can be found etched in stones erected centuries ago by its rulers
- Often called hero stones, they were placed in various spots to honour the bravery of soldiers or citizens.
- One of the stones depicts four cattle along with a hero. This is known as turugal , honoring a hero who died saving cattle, which was considered an asset.
‘Discovery about Jupiter’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: A dozen new moons have been discovered around Jupiter, bringing its total number of moons to 79, the most for any planet in solar system. One of the moons has been called a “real oddball” due to its tiny size
About some of the moons of Jupiter
The most massive of the moons are the four Galilean moons, which were independently discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei and Simon Marius and were the first objects found to orbit a body that was neither Earth nor the Sun. The Galilean moons are by far the largest and most massive objects to orbit Jupiter, with the remaining 75 known moons and the rings together comprising just 0.003% of the total orbiting mass.
The four Galileans are all over 3,100 kilometres (1,900 mi) in diameter; the largest Galilean, Ganymede, is the ninth largest object in the Solar System, after the Sun and seven of the planets, Ganymede being larger than Mercury.
‘International Monetary Fund (IMF)’ (GS2: Important international institutions)
Issue: India’s growth remains “quite robust” into the future, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said despite slightly downgrading the country’s growth projection for 2018-19 due to high oil prices and a tight monetary policy regime.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.
Created in 1945, the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership.
The IMF assists countries hit by crises by providing them financial support to create breathing room as they implement adjustment policies to restore economic stability and growth. It also provides precautionary financing to help prevent and insure against crises. The IMF’s lending toolkit is continuously refined to meet countries’ changing needs.
Lending mechanism of IMF
The IMF’s various lending instruments are tailored to different types of balance of payments need as well as the specific circumstances of its diverse membership. Low-income countries may borrow on concessional terms through facilities available under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, currently at zero interest rates. Historically, for emerging and advanced market economies in crises, the bulk of IMF assistance has been provided through Stand-By Arrangements (SBAs) to address short-term or potential balance of payments problems. The Standby Credit Facility (SCF) serves a similar purpose for low-income countries. The Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and the corresponding Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for low-income countries are the Fund’s main tools for medium-term support to countries facing protracted balance of payments problems. Their use has increased substantially in since the global financial crisis, reflecting the structural nature of some members’ balance of payments problems.
To help prevent or mitigate crises and boost market confidence during periods of heightened risks, members with already strong policies can use the Flexible Credit Line (FCL) or the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL).
The Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) and the corresponding Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) for low-income countries provide rapid assistance to countries with urgent balance of payments need, including from commodity price shocks, natural disasters, and domestic fragilities.
‘Genetic Engineering’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: It may soon be possible to engineer plants that can develop their own fertilizer by using atmospheric nitrogen to create chlorophyll for photosynthesis, according to a team of Indian-origin researchers in the U.S.
About the research
- The researchers from Washington University in St. Louis engineered bacteria that uses photosynthesis to create oxygen during the day, and at night, uses nitrogen to create chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
- This discovery could have a revolutionary effect on agriculture and the health of the planet
- The research team took the genes from Cyanothece, responsible for this day-night mechanism, and put them into another type of cyanobacteria, Synechocystis, to coax it into fixing nitrogen from the air too.
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification or genetic manipulation, is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes using biotechnology. It is a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms. New DNA is obtained by either isolating or copying the genetic material of interest using recombinant DNA methods or by artificially synthesizing the DNA. A construct is usually created and used to insert this DNA into the host organism. The first recombinant DNA molecule was made by Paul Berg in 1972 by combining DNA from the monkey virus SV40 with the lambda virus. As well as inserting genes, the process can be used to remove, or “knock out”, genes. The new DNA can be inserted randomly, or targeted to a specific part of the genome.
An organism that is generated through genetic engineering is considered to be genetically modified (GM) and the resulting entity is a genetically modified organism (GMO). The first GMO was a bacterium generated by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen in 1973
Genetically modified food has been sold since 1994, with the release of the Flavr Savr tomato. The Flavr Savr was engineered to have a longer shelf life, but most current GM crops are modified to increase resistance to insects and herbicides.
Genetic engineering has been applied in numerous fields including research, medicine, industrial biotechnology and agriculture. In research GMOs are used to study gene function and expression through loss of function, gain of function, tracking and expression experiments. By knocking out genes responsible for certain conditions it is possible to create animal model organisms of human diseases. As well as producing hormones, vaccines and other drugs genetic engineering has the potential to cure genetic diseases through gene therapy. The same techniques that are used to produce drugs can also have industrial applications such as producing enzymes for laundry detergent, cheeses and other products.
The rise of commercialized genetically modified crops has provided economic benefit to farmers in many different countries, but has also been the source of most of the controversy surrounding the technology.
GM food safety is a leading concern with critics. Gene flow, impact on non-target organisms, control of the food supply and intellectual property rights have also been raised as potential issues. These concerns have led to the development of a regulatory framework, which started in 1975. It has led to an international treaty, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety that was adopted in 2000.
‘No-Confidence motion’ (GS2: Union Legislature)
Issue: A no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government was on Wednesday moved in the Lok Sabha, with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan admitting it
About No-Confidence motion
A motion of no confidence (alternatively vote of no confidence, no-confidence motion, or (unsuccessful) confidence motion) is a statement or vote which states that a person(s) in a position of responsibility (government, managerial, etc.) is no longer deemed fit to hold that position, perhaps because they are inadequate in some respect, are failing to carry out obligations, or are making decisions that other members feel are detrimental. As a parliamentary motion, it demonstrates to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in the appointed government.
A censure motion is different from a no-confidence motion. “Censure” is meant to show disapproval and does not result in the resignation of ministers. The censure motion can be against an individual minister or a group of ministers, but the no-confidence motion is directed against the entire cabinet. Again, depending on the applicable rules, censure motions may need to state the reasons for the motion while no-confidence motions may not require reasons to be specified.
A motion of no confidence can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Parliament of India). The motion is admitted for discussion when a minimum of 50 members of the house support the motion. If the motion carries, the House debates and votes on the motion. If a majority of the members of the house vote in favor of the motion, the motion is passed and the Government is bound to vacate the office. Acharya Kripalani moved the first-ever no confidence motion on the floor of the Lok Sabha in August 1963, immediately after the disastrous India–China War
‘Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: A new study suggests that digital overload could be linked to a “modest” but significant rise in new attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The more time they spent on social media, streaming videos, music downloads or chats, the more likely they were to report symptoms like difficulty in organizing and completing tasks, or trouble remaining still.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of the Neuro-developmental type. It is characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age. The symptoms appear before a person is twelve years old, are present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings (such as school, home, or recreational activities).
‘Neeraj Chopra’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: India’s javelin star, struck Gold in the Meeting International de Sotteville-les-Rouen in France.
Chopra, who had won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, threw 85.17 metres to bag the top prize.
‘Open Market Operations’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Yields on 10-year government bond on Wednesday hit 10-week low after the Reserve Bank of India announced open market operation (OMO) purchase.
Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions. RBI said it will buy Rs 10,000 crore of bonds via OMO on Thursday citing an assessment of liquidity conditions.
About Open Market Operations
Open market operations are conducted by the RBI by way of sale or purchase of government securities (g-secs) to adjust money supply conditions. The central bank sells g-secs to suck out liquidity from the system and buys back g-secs to infuse liquidity into the system. These operations are often conducted on a day-to-day basis in a manner that balances inflation while helping banks continue to lend. The RBI uses OMO along with other monetary policy tools such as repo rate, cash reserve ratio and statutory liquidity ratio to adjust the quantum and price of money in the system
Liquidity management is also essential so that banks and their borrowers don’t face a cash crunch. The RBI buys g-secs if it thinks systemic liquidity needs a boost and offloads them if it wants to mop up excess money.
‘Meghalayan Age’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Scientists have defined a new geological time scale called the ‘Meghalayan Age’ – a period which began 4,200 years ago and experienced an abrupt mega-drought and cooling around the globe.
About this study
- Sediments collected by an international team of researchers including those from the stalagmite from a cave in Meghalaya helped define the smallest climatic event in Earth’s history.
- Evidence of the 4,200-year climatic event has been found on all seven continents. The Late Holocene Meghalayan Age was ratified as the most recent unit of the Geologic Time Scale after many years of research
‘3D view of monuments’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: The tourism ministry of India has roped in Google to showcase 3D rotating views and a virtual reality experience of Indian monuments on its Incredible India website.
The ministry has also requested all the states to set up specialized police teams to protect foreign tourists
About Incredible India campaign
Incredible India is the name of an international tourism campaign by the Government of India to promote tourism in India since 2002 to an audience of global appeal.