01 st Dec, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
(DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT THE END OF THIS PAGE)
‘Russia-China-India trilateral meeting’ (GS2: International relation)
Issue: Prime Minister Modi, President Vladimir V Putin of Russian Federation and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, held a Trilateral Meeting in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of G20 summit
Discussion done during this meet
The three leaders exchanged views on expanding mutual cooperation in international forums, and to encourage greater interaction among the three countries. They agreed on the importance of reform and strengthening of multilateral institutions which have benefitted the world, including the United Nations, WTO and well-established as well as new global financial institutions. They underscored the benefits of a multilateral trading system and an open world economy for global growth and prosperity.
The three leaders also agreed to have regular consultations at all levels to jointly promote international and regional peace and stability, to strengthen cooperation through BRICS, SCO and EAS mechanisms, to address global challenges such as terrorism and climate change, and to encourage peaceful resolution of all differences.
About RIC forum
- It is a trilateral grouping of Russia, India and China that has met annually since 2002. In recent years, it has functioned as complement to other frameworks involving three countries and including Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
- The proposal for a Moscow-Beijing-Delhi ‘strategic triangle’ had originally come from former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov during his visit to India in 1998, when he argued that such an arrangement would represent a force for greater regional and international stability.
- The initial discussions of meeting focused on regional security, issues affecting Asia-Pacific region, counter-terror efforts and coordination at regional and multilateral forums. The ministers reiterated importance trilateral format as platform to foster closer dialogue and practical cooperation in identified areas
‘Kimberly process’ (GS2: Multilateral forum)
Issue: The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) Plenary 2018, was held in Brussels, Belgium, from 12th-16thNovember 2018.EU handed over the Chairmanship of KPCS to India from 1st January, 2019.
What is Kimberly process?
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is the process established in 2000 to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream rough diamond market by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56 following recommendations in the Fowler Report. The process was set up “to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments.”
India is the founding member of KPCS and is actively involved in KP activities to ensure that almost 99% of the diamond trade in the world is conflict free. India is committed to maintain KP as an efficient and effective process in order to ensure the conflict diamond free status. India is at the forefront in addressing the issue of differentiation between Natural Diamonds and Lab Grown Diamonds and ensures responsible business in this area.
‘Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx)’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: A NASA spacecraft designed to bring a small sample from asteroid Bennu to Earth is on course to arrive at its destination on December 3,
About the mission
- Launched in September 2016, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has been slowly approaching Bennu
- The spacecraft will spend almost a year surveying the asteroid with five scientific instruments with the goal of selecting a location that is safe and scientifically interesting to collect the sample. The spacecraft will briefly touch Bennu’s surface around July 2020 to collect at least 60 grams (equal to about 30 sugar packets) of dirt and rocks.
‘World AIDS Day’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: World AIDS Day is observed on the 1st of December every year in order to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.
About World AIDS day
- Since 1988, December 1 is marked as a day to remember all those who have lost their lives under the impact of this deadly disease. It is marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the eight official global public health campaigns. Government agencies, non-governmental organisation and people around the globe observe this day as a day to spread awareness against AIDS and how to prevent oneself from getting infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
- On 1 December 2018, WHO will join global partners to commemorate World AIDS Day under the theme “Know Your Status”.
‘BRAHMOS missile’ (GS3: Security)
Issue: The Indian armed forces received a shot in the arm as the Defence Ministry on Saturday approved military procurement worth Rs 3,000 crore. The procurement includes Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles for Navy’s two stealth frigates and Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARVs) for the Army’s Arjun main battle tanks
About BRAHMOS missile
It is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land. It is the fastest cruise missile in the world. It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who together have formed BrahMos Aerospace
The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia. In 2016, as India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), India and Russia are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with 600 km-plus range and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy.
‘Fiscal deficit’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s fiscal deficit in the first seven months of the financial year, at ₹6.49 lakh crore, exceeded the budgeted target for the entire year, coming in at 103.9% of that target, according to official data released
The fiscal deficit was 96.1% of the budgeted amount in the same period of the previous year.
What is Fiscal deficit?
A fiscal deficit occurs when a government’s total expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates, excluding money from borrowings. Deficit differs from debt, which is an accumulation of yearly deficits.
A fiscal deficit is regarded by some as a positive economic event. For example, economist John Maynard Keynes believed that deficits help countries climb out of economic recession. On the other hand, fiscal conservatives feel that governments should avoid deficits in favor of a balanced budget policy.
‘Back series GDP data’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The government on recently released the GDP growth estimates for previous years based on the new method of calculation and base year it had adopted in 2015.
Why the need for back series GDP data?
In 2015, the government adopted a new method for the calculation of the gross domestic product of the country, and also adopted the Gross Value Added measure to better estimate economic activity. Further, the change involved a bringing forward of the base year used for calculations to 2011-12 from the previous 2004-05. However, this had led to the problem of not being able to compare recent data with the years preceding 2011-12. The back series data released recently provided the earlier years’ data using the new calculations.
The new data release shows that GDP growth during the UPA years averaged 6.7% during both UPA-I and UPA-II, compared with the 8.1% and 7.46%, respectively, estimated using the older method. In comparison, the current government has witnessed an average GDP growth rate of 7.35% during the first four years of its term, based on the new method.
What is Gross Value Added (GVA)?
In economics, gross value added (GVA) is the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy. In national accounts GVA is output minus intermediate consumption; it is a balancing item of the national accounts’ production account.
GVA is linked as a measurement to gross domestic product (gdp), as both are measures of output. The relationship is defined as:
GVA + taxes on products – subsidies on products = GDP
‘Indigenous film festival’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: India’s first international indigenous film festival will take place in February next year in Odisha.
About the festival
The festival aims to be a platform for indigenous communities from the world over to share, have a dialogue, collaborate and to use cinema as a mode of united assertion, resistance and activism against exploitative forces.
‘Easter Island’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Ever since 1869, the 2.4-m-high stone sculpture of the ancestral figure or the ‘Moai’, Hoa Hakananai’a — from the Chilean island of Rapa Nui (better known as Easter Island) — has stood in the collection of the British Museum in London.
Nearly 150 years since its arrival in the U.K., the statue has become a point of contention between the museum and Chilean authorities, putting the issue of colonial-era objects firmly in the spotlight.
The sculpture is just the latest in a string of objects at the British Museum — and other historic locations — to form a point of contention, over the way and context in which they had been taken to, and remained within, the U.K. Others include the Parthenon Marbles, or Elgin Marbles, that were brought to the museum from the Acropolis in the early 19th century. In August, the Greeks renewed their calls for their return
About Easter Island
It is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the south-eastern most point of the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania. Easter Island is most famous for its nearly 1,000 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park
‘Team Indus and Moon’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: A moon-struck startup from Bengaluru seems finally set on its way to touch down and raise lunar dust thanks to a tie-up with U.S. space agency NASA.
About the project
The homegrown TeamIndus, founded around 2011, was already developing spacecraft and landing systems while contending for a $ 30-million global lunar landing and roving competition
The privately funded TeamIndus is now part of a U.S. consortium that NASA has shortlisted to potentially fly scientific and commercial cargo to the moon over the next 10 years.
‘Agri-Tech’ (GS3: Indian Agriculture)
Issue: Faced with seesawing commodity prices and the pressure to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, some farmers are turning to robots to meet the targets
“agri-tech” startups working to transform production in a sector that is under economic strain due to market pressures to keep food cheap, a rising global population and the uncertainties of climate change. Most robots are still only being tested, but they offer a glimpse of how automation will spread from manufacturing plants into rural areas.
The aim is to drastically cut down on fertilizer and pesticide use to lower costs and boost profits for struggling farmers. As such, it not only helps economically, but it also lowers the environmental impact of farming.
‘CRISPR’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Chinese researcher He Jiankui has claimed that he used CRISPR to produce the world’s first “designer babies”. On Wednesday, he said a second pregnancy was underway. A look at the genetic editing system that may change our relationship with genetics for better, worse or both
What is CRISPR-CAS?
- CRISPR-Cas9 is a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence.
- It is currently the simplest, most versatile and precise method of genetic manipulation and is therefore causing a buzz in the science world.
- The CRISPR-Cas9 system consists of two key molecules that introduce a change (mutation?) into the DNA. These are:
- an enzyme called Cas9. This acts as a pair of ‘molecular scissors’ that can cut the two strands of DNA at a specific location in the genome so that bits of DNA can then be added or removed.
- a piece of RNA called guide RNA (gRNA). This consists of a small piece of pre-designed RNA sequence (about 20 bases long) located within a longer RNA scaffold. The scaffold part binds to DNA and the pre-designed sequence ‘guides’ Cas9 to the right part of the genome. This makes sure that the Cas9 enzyme cuts at the right point in the genome.
- Some bacteria have a similar, built-in, gene editing system to the CRISPR-Cas9 system that they use to respond to invading pathogens like viruses, much like an immune system.
- Using CRISPR the bacteria snip out parts of the virus DNA and keep a bit of it behind to help them recognize and defend against the virus next time it attacks.
Benefits of CRISPR
CRISPR has been used to repair a mutation that causes blindness and correct the defect responsible for cystic fibrosis. The first human trial began in China in 2016 using CRISPR-modified T-cells to treat lung cancer patients.
Concerns with CRISPR
Decisions about whether to use CRISPR to treat people who are already sick could be made through traditional consideration of risks and benefits, once they are better understood. The potential to do good is enormous: eliminating a genetic disease from a family forever. But if something goes wrong, the consequences are potentially eternal, too, affecting future generations who could not give prior consent. Some scientist worry that germline editing would invite enhancements of babies for non-medical reasons
‘UPI transactions’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Monthly transactions through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) crossed the 500 million mark for the first time in November, data released by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) reported recently
Under the UPI, 524.94 million transactions amounting to Rs 82,232.21 crore were carried out during the month, a 9% increase in transaction volume, compared with 482.36 million transactions worth Rs 74,978.27 crore in October.
UPI is a payments system launched by the NPCI, the umbrella organisation for all retail payments in the country, which facilitates instant fund transfer between two bank accounts on a mobile platform, without requiring any detail of the beneficiary’s bank account.
On 16 August, NPCI launched UPI 2.0, an upgraded version of UPI, with several new features, including an overdraft facility enabling customers to link their overdraft accounts to the UPI. Also, a one-time feature allowing customers to pre-authorize a transaction and pay at a later date, and the invoice-in-the-box feature allowing customers to check the invoice sent by merchants before making a payment were introduced. The signed intent and QR feature enables customers to check the authenticity of merchants while scanning the QR codes.