27 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Ramon Magsaysay Award (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Two Indians — one a psychiatrist who works for the mentally-ill street persons and another whose initiative to harness science and culture creatively for economic progress improved the lives of the Ladakhi youth – were today declared the winners of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Bharat Vaswani and Sonam Wangchuk are among six individuals who were declared winners of the award, regarded as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize.
About the award
The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay’s example of integrity in governance, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society. The prize was established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government. The award is internationally-recognized as Asia’s Nobel Prize counterpart and is the highest award given to Asian individuals and organizations
‘Bangla’ (GS2: State Legislature)
Issue: Lawmakers in West Bengal unanimously voted on Thursday to change the name of the state to Bangla.
Future course of action
When the fresh proposal comes to the Home Ministry, it will prepare a note for the Union Cabinet for an amendment to the Schedule 1 of the Constitution. Thereafter, a Constitution Amendment Bill will be introduced in Parliament, which has to approve it with a simple majority, before the President gives his assent to it
‘BRICS summit’ (GS2: Global Groupings)
Issue: Mr. Modi, who is attending the 10th BRICS Summit, met Mr. Xi for the third time in nearly three months.
Highlights of the meeting
- Both emphasized the need to maintain the “momentum” generated by their recent meetings and provide “proper instructions” to their militaries to maintain peace at the border.
- Recalling his recent meetings with Mr. Xi, Prime Minister Modi said they have given a new strength to India-China ties and also provided new opportunities for bilateral cooperation.
- At Wuhan, both Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi had decided to issue “strategic guidance” to their militaries to strengthen communications to build trust and understanding, a move aimed at avoiding a Doklam-like situation in the future.
- High-level people-to-people mechanism which would be established between the two sides will also meet this year
- Both leaders agreed on the necessity of ensuring that their decisions were implemented on the ground in order to ensure progress
BRICS is the acronym coined by British Economist Jim O’Neill meant for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs”), before the induction of South Africa in 2010. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs; all are members of G20. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. China hosted the 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen on September 2017, while South Africa will do so for the 10th BRICS summit in July 2018
In 2015, the five BRICS countries represent over 3.1 billion people, or about 41% of the world population; four out of five members (excluding South Africa at #24) are in the top 10 of the world by population. As of 2018, these five nations have a combined nominal GDP of US$18.6 trillion, about 23.2% of the gross world product, combined GDP (PPP) of around US$40.55 trillion (32% of World’s GDP PPP) and an estimated US$4.46 trillion in combined foreign reserves
Bilateral relations among BRICS nations have mainly been conducted on the basis of non-interference, equality, and mutual benefit
Some of the initiatives taken by the BRICS since its inception
- The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states. The bank’s primary focus of lending will be infrastructure projects with authorized lending of up to $34 billion annually.
- The BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) is a framework for providing protection against global liquidity pressures. This includes currency issues where members’ national currencies are being adversely affected by global financial pressures.
- At the 2015 BRICS summit in Russia, ministers from BRICS nations, initiated consultations for a payment system
‘Genetically Modified ingredients’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: About one-third of locally available packaged and processed food, including imported edible oil, multigrain breakfast cereals and infant food, contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients, said a report by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
Issues raised in the report
- Most GM-positive imported food products had soy, corn and rapeseed, the study found
- Several existing Indian laws, including the Environment Protection Act, the Food Safety and Standards Act, and the foreign trade Act, prohibits import of GM food without regulatory approval.
- India has, so far, not allowed the use of GM technology in agriculture, except for Bt cotton, a non-food crop, which was approved for commercial cultivation in 2002.
- Lab tests on all the five samples of cotton seed oil produced domestically were found to be GM-positive, CSE said, adding that consumers were unknowingly using these oils for edible purposes, for which no permission was taken.
- The study also found that two imported infant food products meant for children who were lactose intolerant, or hypo-allergenic, were GM-positive.
Current laws do not permit imports of GM food, Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) is in the process of framing regulations that “would essentially lay down procedures for safety assessment and approval of foods including imported foods, derived from genetic modification processes based on the internationally well established and accepted scientific principles, procedures and best practices.
‘Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: A new report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) bears good news for the global war against the syndrome.
What the report says?
- Between 2010 and 2017, several countries made rapid progress in reducing HIV incidence and getting antiretroviral therapy to patients.
- Today, three out of four people with HIV know their status, and 21.7 million get treatment.
- While the largest reduction in incidence came from eastern and southern Africa, Asia also made gains.
- India, in particular, brought down the number of new cases and deaths by 27% and 56%, respectively, between 2010 and 2017.
Actions taken by India in combating HIV
Tuberculosis is the biggest killer of HIV patients across the world. India is now able to treat over 90% of notified TB patients for HIV. Social stigma surrounding AIDS-infected people in India, while high, is declining slowly too. Survey data show that in the last decade, the number of people unwilling to buy vegetables from a person with HIV came down from over 30% to 27.6%.
What is HIV?
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (a subgroup of retrovirus) that causes HIV infection and over time acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Without treatment, average survival time after infection with HIV is estimated to be 9 to 11 years, depending on the HIV subtype. In most cases, HIV is a sexually transmitted infection and occurs by contact with or transfer of blood, pre-ejaculate, semen, and vaginal fluids. Non-sexual transmission can occur from an infected mother to her infant through breast milk. An HIV-positive mother can transmit HIV to her baby both during pregnancy and childbirth due to exposure to her blood or vaginal fluid. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.
HIV infects vital cells in the human immune system such as helper T cells (specifically CD4+ T cells), macrophages, and dendritic cells. When CD4+ T cell numbers decline below a critical level, cell-mediated immunity is lost, and the body becomes progressively more susceptible to opportunistic infections, leading to the development of AIDS.
‘Anti-Trafficking Bill’ (GS2: Central Legislature)
Issue: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.
Highlights of the bill
- The Bill lays down a stringent punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated forms of trafficking, which include buying or selling of persons for the purpose of bonded labour, bearing a child, as well as those where chemical substances or hormones are administered, and a survivor acquires life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS.
- The Bill proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating, monitoring and surveillance of trafficking cases.
- It also provides for a Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and Rehabilitation Fund with an initial allocation of ₹ 10 crore. It prescribes forfeiture of property used or likely to be used for the commission of an offence.
The Minister also sought to allay concerns about the Bill potentially victimizing adult persons voluntarily in sex work and said the Bill was not intended to harass sex workers and that the government was against trafficking and not its victims.
Earlier this year, the Cabinet had approved a proposal for making the apex anti-terror body — the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — the nodal authority for probing cases of human trafficking, for which the government is expected to bring a separate amendment to the NIA Act.
‘Space research and Contemporary needs’ (GS3: Science and Technolohy)
Issue: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), since its inception, has been driven by the objective of harnessing the benefits of space technology for national development and improving the lives of the people.
Its contribution in that aspect include
The satellite enabled data and services are being used to improve the living standards of people. These include Television broadcasting, Direct-to-Home, ATM, Mobile communication, Tele-education, Tele-medicine and advisories on weather, pest infestation, agro-meteorology and potential fishing zones. Satellite data is also used for crop production estimation, crop intensification, agricultural drought assessment, wasteland inventory, identifying ground water prospect zones, inland aquaculture suitability and disaster risk reduction, which indirectly benefits the people
In order to promote use of space technology for governance and public administration, Department of Space had formed expert working groups in ISRO for proactive interaction with the Government departments and prepared the joint action plan on “Effective use of Space Technology in Governance & Development”
‘Mahila Shakti Kendra’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: Government of India has approved a new scheme namely Mahila Shakti Kendra for implementation during 2017-18 upto 2019-20 to empower rural women through community participation.
About the scheme
The Scheme is implemented with cost sharing ratio of 60:40 between centre and states except for North East and Special Category States where the ratio is 90:10. The scheme is envisaged to work at various levels and at the national level (domain based knowledge support) and state level (State Resource Centre for Women) technical support to the respective governments on issues related to women is provided. Community engagement through College Student Volunteers is envisioned in 115 aspirational districts as part of the Block Level initiatives. Student volunteers are to play an instrumental role in awareness generation regarding various important government schemes/ programmes as well as social issues.
Ministry of Women and Child development is implementing this programme
‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ (Facts that could be asked in the Prelims)
Issue: India on Thursday paid homage to the jawans who sacrificed their lives in the 1999 Kargil war against Pakistan codenamed ‘Operation Vijay’.
Brief description about the war
The Kargil War was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC). In India, the conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay; the cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers disguised as Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC