03rd Sep, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Asian Games 2018’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: With Jakarta bidding goodbye to the Asiad, the ancient Chinese city of Hangzhou welcomed all the athletes to the next Games which it will host in September 2022.
Number of Medals won by countries in the current Asian games
China was miles ahead of the others in the medal table here with 289 medals which included 132 golds. It also raced past the 3000-medal mark during the Games. Japan was far behind in the second spot with 205 medals (75 golds) while Korea was next with 177 (49 golds). India, despite its best-ever haul of 69 medals (15 golds), was eighth on the table.
18-year-old Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, who won six gold and two silvers, was declared as the Most Valuable Player of the Games. No woman has ever won so many golds in a single edition of the Games.
‘Code of Conduct for legislators’ (GS2: Union and State Legislature)
Issue: Expressing his displeasure over the functioning of Parliament, V.P Naidu listed reforms that he felt are necessary for its effective functioning, as well as that of the state legislatures
Some of the reforms suggested by the V.P of India include:
- Election petitions and criminal cases against political leaders should be disposed of within a certain time frame and, if necessary, special benches of the Supreme Court and high courts should be formed for the matter.
- Emphasized the need for a national policy on having an Upper House in the states.
- It is equally important for the media, an “invaluable partner in strengthening democratic culture”, to focus more on the constructive contribution made by members of the House rather than giving importance to their disruptive activities.
- Calling for a code of conduct for MPs and MLAs
- The anti-defection laws should be implemented in letter and spirit expeditiously, within three months.
- P Naidu called for political parties to consider “dispassionately and legislate measures to empower women through reservation in all spheres of public life including legislatures”.
‘USA Military aid to Pakistan’ (GS2: Effect of policies of developed countries on India’s interests)
Issue: In a blow to US-Pakistan relations, the US has said it had made a final decision to cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan over Islamabad’s perceived failure to take decisive action against terrorists and militants. This is in addition to another $500 million in aid that was withdrawn earlier this year at the behest of the US Congress.
About Coalition Support Funds
The withholding of the so-called Coalition Support Funds (CSF) is part of a broader suspension in aid to Pakistan announced by President Donald Trump in January, when he accused Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with “nothing but lies & deceit”. The Trump administration has been saying that Islamabad is granting safe haven to terrorists and insurgents waging a 17-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan denies.
Though the funds have been withheld this year, Pakistan could again be eligible next year for CSF
‘Janmashtami celebrations’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind extended his greetings on the occasion of Janmashtami to the country
Krishna Janmashtami also known simply as Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. It is observed according to Hindu luni-solar calendar, on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the month of Shraavana of the lunar Hindu calendar and Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the month of Bhadrapad of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, which overlaps with August and September of the Gregorian calendar.
It is an important festival particularly to the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism
The life and teachings of Lord Krishna have a universal message- Nishkam Karma. Lord Krishna in his message has preached duty without thought of reward
‘Oil output (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Oil prices fell on Monday amid rising supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the United States, outweighing concerns that falling Iranian output will tighten markets once US sanctions bite from November.
Other factors that might drag oil value
Many analysts have warned that an economic slowdown because of trade disputes between the United States and other major economies including China and the European Union would drag on oil demand.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental Organization, created at the Baghdad Conference on September 10–14, 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The five Founding Members were later joined by ten other Members: Qatar (1961); Indonesia (1962) – suspended its membership in January 2009, reactivated it in January 2016, but decided to suspend it again in November 2016; Libya (1962); United Arab Emirates (1967); Algeria (1969); Nigeria (1971); Ecuador (1973) – suspended its membership in December 1992, but reactivated it in October 2007; Angola (2007); Gabon (1975) – terminated its membership in January 1995 but rejoined in July 2016; Equatorial Guinea (2017); and Congo (2018). OPEC had its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in the first five years of its existence. This was moved to Vienna, Austria, on September 1, 1965.
In accordance with its Statute, the mission of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its Member Countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.
‘Manned mission’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The process for selecting three astronauts for India’s first manned space flight will begin at the earliest to give them enough time to train for the 2022 mission, which is slated to cost less than ₹10,000 crore.
The initial training will be done at the Institute for Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru
About the mission
A seven-tonne orbital module consisting of a crew module with three astronauts and a service module would be sent into space in launch vehicle Mark-3. Within 16 minutes of its launch from Sriharikota, the module would reach the low-earth orbit at 400km, where it would remain for five to seven days. The astronauts would conduct micro-gravity experiments, which is the main purpose of the mission.
The mission would generate jobs for 15,000 people, of whom 13,000 would be from industries and a thousand from academic institutes.
Challenges to surmount in the mission
- Gravity field: Transitioning from one gravity field to another is tricky. It affects hand-eye and head-eye coordination. NASA has learned that without gravity working on the human body, bones lose minerals. Even after you return from a space mission, you could be at greater risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.
- Isolation: Behavioral issues are likely to crop up. Due to isolation, one may encounter depression, fatigue, sleep disorder and psychiatric disorders.
- Radiation: In space stations, astronauts receive over ten times the radiation than what people are subjected to on Earth. Radiation exposure may increase the risk of cancer. It can damage the central nervous system. Radiation can also cause nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and fatigue.
- Rockets: Rockets are extreme machines. Travelling in a rocket is like sitting on an exploding bomb which will push your speed from 0 kmph to 29,000 kmph in less than 30 minutes. Many safety features have to be built into rocket systems to ensure the probability of loss of life is minimized. However, testing of all these systems in an actual operating environment is next to impossible and a calculated risk has to be taken while embarking on such a mission.
- Hostile environment: Space is hostile. In addition to lack of gravity and danger of radiation, there is no atmosphere. Human blood starts boiling if there is no pressure. The ‘Gaganyaan’ has to create an atmosphere like Earth inside a small volume and ensure that adequate supply of oxygen, removal of carbon-dioxide and comfortable temperature and humidity levels are maintained throughout the mission.
‘Western Ghats’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: The six Western Ghats States, including Kerala, have been restrained by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) from giving environmental clearance to activities that may adversely impact the eco-sensitive areas of the mountain ranges.
The panel directed that the extent of Eco-Sensitive Zones of Western Ghats, which was notified by the Central government earlier, should not be reduced in view of the recent floods in Kerala.
The National Green Tribunal has been established on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavor for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same. Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible. New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.
About Western Ghats
Older than the Himalaya mountains, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the site presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet. It also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. The forests of the site include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.
The Western Ghats are internationally recognized as a region of immense global importance for the conservation of biological diversity, besides containing areas of high geological, cultural and aesthetic values. A chain of mountains running parallel to India’s western coast, approximately 30-50 km inland, the Ghats traverse the States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat
The 39 component parts of this serial property fall under a number of protection regimes, ranging from Tiger Reserves, National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Reserved Forests. All components are owned by the State and are subject to stringent protection under laws including the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, the Indian Forest Act of 1927, and the Forest Conservation Act (1980).
‘Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Mauritius remained the top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India in 2017-18 followed by Singapore, whereas total FDI stood at $37.36 billion in the financial year, a marginal rise over the $36.31 billion recorded in the previous fiscal, according to RBI data.
What the data says?
- While FDI from Mauritius totaled $13.41 billion as against $13.38 billion in the previous year, inflows from Singapore rose to $9.27 billion from $6.52 billion. FDI from the Netherlands declined marginally to $2.67 billion as against $3.23 billion a year earlier.
- FDI into communication services rose to $8.8 billion in FY18 from $5.8 billion. The inflows into retail and wholesale trade also shot up to $4.47 billion as against $2.77 billion, while financial services too saw a rise to $4.07 billion from $3.73 billion in the previous year.
‘Silkworm’ (GS3: Indian Culture)
Issue: Sericulture farmers could soon see higher yields of silkworm cocoons, with the Central Silk Board notifying some of the recently developed races of mulberry (which feeds on mulberry leaves) and vanya (forest-based) silkworm eggs. These races are now authorised for commercial production.
About the initiative
The newly developed hybrid of mulberry silkworm (PM x FC2) can produce 60 kg of cocoons per 100 Disease Free Layings (silkworm eggs) and is said to be ‘better than’ the earlier race titled PM x CSR. The tropical tasar silkworm (BDR-10) has 21% more productivity than the traditional Daba breed and the Eri silkworm (C2) race is found to be ‘better’ than the local breed, according to industry experts.
Silk has been intermingled with the life and culture of the Indians. India has a rich and complex history in silk production and its silk trade dates back to 15th century. Sericulture industry provides employment to approximately 8.25 million persons in rural and semi-urban areas in India during 2015-16. Of these, a sizeable number of workers belong to the economically weaker sections of society, including women. India’s traditional and culture bound domestic market and an amazing diversity of silk garments that reflect geographic specificity has helped the country to achieve a leading position in silk industry.
India has the unique distinction of being the only country producing all the five known commercial silks, namely, mulberry, tropical tasar, oak tasar, eri and muga, of which muga with its golden yellow glitter is unique and prerogative of India.
Mulberry sericulture is mainly practised in five states namely, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Bodoland, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu are major silk producing states in the country. North East has the unique distinction of being the only region producing four varieties of silk viz., Mulberry, Oak Tasar, Muga and Eri. Overall NE region contributes 18% of India’s total silk production.
India is the second largest producer of silk in the world. Among the four varieties of silk produced in 2015-16, Mulberry accounts for 71.8% (20,434 MT), Tasar 9.9% (2,818 MT), Eri 17.8% (5,054 MT) and Muga 0.6% (166 MT) of the total raw silk production of 28,472 MT.
The demand for superior quality bivoltine silk is increasing in India for domestic consumption as well as value added silk products for the export market. The Ministry of Textiles Government of India and Departments of Sericulture in various states provide technical and financial assistance for enhancing the bivoltine silk production.
Sericulture is the functional area under the Ministry of Textiles. Some of the recent policy initiatives taken by the Ministry to promote sericulture are as follows.
- Sericulture is included as agriculture allied activity under Rashtriya Krishi VikasYojana (RKVY). This enables the sericulturists to avail the benefits of the scheme for the entire sericulture activities up to reeling.
- The CSB (Amendment) Act, Rules and Regulations have been notified by the Govt. of India to bring quality standards in silkworm seed production.
- Forest Conservation Act has been amended to treat non mulberry sericulture as forest based activity enabling the farmers to undertake Vanya silkworm rearing in the natural host plantation in the forests.
‘High Seas regulation’ (GS2: Important international institutions)
Issue: United Nations kicked-off talks on a 2020 treaty that would regulate the high seas, which cover half the planet yet lack adequate environmental protection.
The negotiations will relate to spaces beyond national jurisdictions, or areas that belong to no country in particular. Talk will focus on the high seas and the international zone of marine waters, or about 46% of the planet’s surface
In 1982, the UN adopted the Convention on the Law of the Sea, but left the high seas free from restrictions.
What is a High sea?
High seas, in maritime law, all parts of the mass of saltwater surrounding the globe that are not part of the territorial sea or internal waters of a state. For several centuries beginning in the European Middle Ages, a number of maritime states asserted sovereignty over large portions of the high seas. Well-known examples were the claims of Genoa in the Mediterranean and of Great Britain in the North Sea and elsewhere.
The high seas lie beyond the zones described above. The waters and airspace of this area are open to use by all countries, except for those activities prohibited by international law (e.g., the testing of nuclear weapons). The bed of the high seas is known as the International Seabed Area (also known as “the Area”), for which the 1982 convention established a separate and detailed legal regime.
Under the regime the minerals on the ocean floor beneath the high seas are deemed “the common heritage of mankind,” and their exploitation is administered by the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Any commercial exploration or mining of the seabed is carried out by private or state concerns regulated and licensed by the ISA, though thus far only exploration has been carried out.