28 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Personal Data Protection bill, 2018’ (GS2: Fundamental Rights)
Issue: The Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 has been submitted by the Justice BN Srikrishna committee on Data protection after nearly a year of consultations. The Committee has submitted the draft bill and its report on Data Protection to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY)
What are the recommendations of the committee?
- The committee has suggested measures to be taken when it comes to protecting personal information of Indian citizens, the role and duties of data processors, and the rights of individuals.
- The report also talks about the penalties that should be imposed for violation of these data protection measures.
- Report straddles three aspects – citizens, the state and the industry.
- The draft bill submitted by the committee notes that “the right to privacy is a fundamental right and it is necessary to protect personal data as an essential facet of informational privacy.”
- On the right to be forgotten, the bill notes that that ‘data principal’ which means the individual or the person providing their data, has a right to “right to restrict or prevent continuing disclosure.” But the bill does not allow for a right of total erasure like the European Union does.
- The Data Protection Bill also calls for privacy by design on part of data processors, and defines terms like consent, data breach, sensitive data, etc.
‘Neeraj Chopra’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Reigning Commonwealth Games champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is among the five to have qualified for International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League finals
The 20-year-old Neeraj, who earlier this year became the first Indian to win a CWG gold with a throw of 86.47m, sealed his place for the Diamond League final after throwing 83.32m.
‘Flash Floods’ (GS3: Disaster Management)
Issue: India has been designated as a nodal centre for preparing flash-flood forecasts by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Significance of this designation
- India will have to develop a customized model that can issue advance warning of floods in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand
- IMD would be working to customize a weather model, developed by the United States and donated to the WMO, to warn of flash floods at least six hours in advance.
- Using a combination of satellite mapping and ground-based observation, this system — called the Flash Flood Guidance System — aims to provide forecasts six hours in advance.
The WMO says flash floods account for 85% of flooding incidents across the world, causing some 5,000 deaths each year.
‘Turnitin’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: Union Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar said on Friday that the Turnitin software to detect plagiarism in research, would be provided to all universities free of cost
About the software
Turnitin is a commercial, Internet-based plagiarism-detection service launched in 1997. Universities and high schools typically buy licenses to use the software-as-a-service website, which checks submitted documents against its database and the content of other websites with the aim of identifying plagiarism. Results can identify similarities with existing sources, and can also be used in formative assessment to help students learn to avoid plagiarism and improve their writing
‘PRANAM act’ (GS2: State Legislature)
Issue: The Assam government has set October 2 as the day for implementation of the Assam Employees Parental Responsibility Norms for Accountability Monitoring Act, 2017, or the PRANAM Act.
About the Act
- The Act will enable parents of uncaring or abusive government employees to claim 10% of his or her pay for their sustenance.
- Besides parents, differently-abled siblings of a government employee can also claim maintenance from his or her salary.
‘Geo-engineering’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Some scientists and engineers propose a different approach to curb greenhouse gas reduction, which involves dealing with gases and their effect in the atmosphere. It is called geo-engineering – the large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change.
What is Geo-engineering?
Geoengineering focuses on ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or on offsetting warming effects by targeting the overall amount of solar energy hitting the Earth.
Some of the Geoengineering approaches are:
- PHYTOPLANKTON AND IRON: The ocean is full of living things that use photosynthesis to capture CO2, particularly single-celled algae called phytoplankton. When they die, they sink deep into the ocean, taking all that CO2 with them. Phytoplankton also need iron to grow. Some scientists have proposed increasing the ocean’s iron content, causing the phytoplankton population to increase, thereby removing more CO2.
- CARBON FILTERING: The Company, called Climeworks, has developed a technology, called Direct Air Capture, which uses huge fans to suck air through a filter to which CO2 chemically bonds. When heated, the filter releases the CO2, which can then be sold for other uses, such as growing vegetables in greenhouses, making carbonated drinks or even fuel.
- AFFORESTATION: Most sensible geoengineering proposal is to simply plant trees. Lots of them. Trees use energy from sunlight to draw in carbon dioxide and water. They breathe out oxygen and use the carbon to build their trunks and roots.
- STRATOSPHERIC AEROSOL INJECTION: In 1815 a volcano in Indonesia called Mount Tambora produced the largest eruption in recorded history. It ejected huge amounts of aerosols – extremely fine particles suspended in the air – into the upper atmosphere, reflecting away so much sunlight that the following year was known as ‘The Year Without a Summer’.
Now some scientists want to use this same principle to offset greenhouse gas effects. Harvard University is preparing to launch the first ever aerosol injection experiment outside a laboratory, known as the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx). A balloon will be launched high into the atmosphere. There it will release an aerosol, and scientists will observe the effect. Eventually they hope to understand the process well enough to safely use the technique on a large scale.
- ALBEDO: Another idea is to increase the Earth’s ‘albedo’ – which is Latin for ‘whiteness’ and the measure of the amount of solar radiation the planet reflects rather than absorbs. Because whiter surfaces reflect more light than darker ones, a whiter Earth will reflect more of the Sun’s energy back into space, helping to keep temperatures cooler. One way to do this is to make clouds brighter and whiter, an idea proposed by cloud physicist John Latham in 1990.
- SPACE REFLECTORS: This idea was proposed in the early 2000s by an astrophysicist named Lowell Wood, from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. But even he thought it might be tough to do. To be effective, 1% of the Sun’s light would have to be reflected. To achieve this, the mirrors would need to have an area of 1.6 million km2! That’s about the size of Iran.
‘Superconductivity’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: For the first time, researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru have been able to achieve superconductivity at ambient temperature and pressure.
Significance of this research
A large number of materials have been found to undergo normal to superconducting transitions. But such transitions require extremely low temperature and/or extremely high pressure. Achieving this transition at ambient temperature and pressure therefore gains great significance.
What is Superconductivity?
- A material is said to exhibit superconductivity when it is able to conduct electric current with practically zero resistance. So unlike the conventionally used materials such as copper and steel, a superconductor can carry a current indefinitely without losing any energy.
- Superconductors are already used for many applications such electronics, levitation of trains, particle accelerators, and superconducting coils.
- However, they need to be cooled to very low temperatures, which restrict their use in our everyday life. The ability to achieve superconductivity at ambient temperature and pressure therefore becomes very significant.
‘Faculty members’ (GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The total number of teachers in higher educational institutions in India has come down by about 2.34-lakh in the last three years, as per the All India Survey on Higher Education report 2017-18.
Significance of this report
Coming at a time when there has been widespread concern over the continuing vacancies in universities, the report is likely to be an eye-opener on the dearth of teachers in Indian universities.
‘Peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea’ (GS1: World Geography)
Issue: Ethiopia’s decision this month to implement an earlier peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea brokered by the African Union brings hope
Brief history of the decision
The agreement signed by the two countries in Algiers in December 2000 was intended to bring an end to a conflict triggered by Eritrea, but the pact was never fully implemented. The two neighbors remained deadlocked in a conflict that has over time claimed more than 50,000 lives over a dispute concerning the border town of Badme.
Ethiopia, country on the Horn of Africa. The country lies completely within the tropical latitudes and is relatively compact, with similar north-south and east-west dimensions. The capital is Addis Ababa (“New Flower”), located almost at the centre of the country. Ethiopia is the largest and most populated country in the Horn of Africa. With the 1993 secession of Eritrea, its former province along the Red Sea, Ethiopia became landlocked.
Eritrea, country of the Horn of Africa, located on the Red Sea. Eritrea’s coastal location has long been important in its history and culture—a fact reflected in its name, which is an Italianized version of Mare Erythraeum, Latin for “Red Sea.” The Red Sea was the route by which Christianity and Islam reached the area, and it was an important trade route that such powers as Turkey, Egypt, and Italy hoped to dominate by seizing control of ports on the Eritrean coast. Those ports promised access to the gold, coffee, and slaves sold by traders in the Ethiopian highlands to the south, and, in the second half of the 20th century, Ethiopia became the power from which the Eritrean people had to free themselves in order to create their own state.
About Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa, region of eastern Africa. It is the easternmost extension of African land. It is defined as the region that is home to the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, whose cultures have been linked throughout their long history.
Its coasts are washed by the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean, and it has long been in contact with the Arabian Peninsula and southwestern Asia. Islam and Christianity are of ancient standing here, and the people speak Afro-Asiatic languages related to those of North Africa and the Middle East.
‘Project Tiger’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Pointing to the possibility of an increase in the number of tigers according to the preliminary indications from the on-going countrywide Tiger estimation/Census, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has reiterated the need to build a social movement for tiger conservation.
About Project Tiger
The Government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973. From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states. This amounts to around 2.21% of the geographical area of our country. The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy. The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple use area. The Project Tiger aims to foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.
Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forestsand Climate Changeproviding central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body of the Ministry, with an overarching supervisory / coordination role, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The NTCA / Project Tiger also conducts the country level assessment of the status of tiger, co-predators, prey and habitat once in four years, using the refined methodology, as approved by the Tiger Task Force.
The important thrust areas for of the project are:
- Stepped up protection/networking/surveillance
- Voluntary relocation of people from core/critical tiger habitat to provide inviolate space for tiger
- Strengthening of protection infrastructure and habitat management as per Tiger Conservation Plans of tiger reserves
- Use of information technology in wildlife crime prevention
- Addressing human-wildlife conflicts
- Addressing the issue of resource dependency of local people through sustainable livelihood options
- Capacity building of frontline personnel
- Developing a national repository of camera trap tiger photographs with IDs
- Active management for rescuing moving tigers from human dominated landscape
- Conducting the next round of country level assessment of tiger, co-predators, prey besides habitat status monitoring
- Conducting the next round of the independent management effectiveness evaluation
- Strengthening the regional offices of the NTCA
- Declaring and consolidating new tiger reserves
- Fostering awareness for eliciting local public support
- Fostering Research
About National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it under the said Act.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority has been fulfilling its mandate within the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation in the country by retaining an oversight through advisories/normative guidelines, based on appraisal of tiger status, ongoing conservation initiatives and recommendations of specially constituted Committees. ‘Project Tiger’ is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Environment, Forests and Climate Change, providing funding support to tiger range States, for in-situ conservation of tigers in designated tiger reserves, and has put the endangered tiger on an assured path of recovery by saving it from extinction, as revealed by the recent findings of the All India tiger estimation using the refined methodology.
Objective of the NTCA
- Providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives become legal.
- Fostering accountability of Center-State in management of Tiger Reserves, by providing a basis for MoU with States within our federal structure.
- Providing for an oversight by Parliament.
- Addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves.
Other initiatives taken by the government in the area of tiger conservation
In 2010, at St Petersburg, Russia, the heads of Governments of Tiger Range states which inter alia include India, resolved to strive to double the number of wild tigers (T X 2) across their global range by 2022 and signed the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, which decided to celebrate July 29 as Global Tiger Day. India has significantly contributed to this target and has resolved to safeguard tiger habitat and source populations to foster viable tiger population during the Global Stock Taking meeting held in 2012 at New Delhi to review progress vis-a-vis the St Petersburg Declaration.
The tiger is the largest member of the felid (cat) family. They sport long, thick reddish coats with white bellies and white and black tails. Their heads, bodies, tails and limbs have narrow black, brown or gray stripes. There were once nine subspecies of tigers: Bengal, Siberian, Indochinese, South Chinese, Sumatran, Malayan, Caspian, Javan and Bali. Of these, the last three are extinct, one is extinct in the wild, and the rest are endangered.
In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 tigers throughout their range. Today, an estimated total of around 3,000-4,500 exist in the wild.
‘Mission Satyanishta’ (GS4: Ethics)
Issue: In first of its kind event held by any government organization, the Indian Railways organized a programme on Ethics in Public Governance and Launched “Mission Satyanishtha”
About the mission
“Mission Satyanishtha” launched on 27th July 2018 aims at sensitizing all railway employees about the need to adhere to good ethics and to maintain high standards of integrity at work.
The objectives of the Mission are:
- To train every employee to understand the need and value of ethics in Personal and Public life.
- To deal with ethical dilemmas in life and Public Governance.
- To help understand the policies of Indian Railways on ethics and integrity and the employee’s role in upholding the same.
- To develop inner governance through tapping inner resources.