30 th Nov, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘UK and Kirpans’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: The UK government has confirmed an amendment to a new weapons bill going through Parliament to ensure that it would not impact the right of the British Sikh community to possess and supply kirpans, or religious swords.
The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 completed its various readings in the House of Commons this week and has now moved to the House of Lords for approval.
Purpose of this bill
Places new restrictions on the online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products in an attempt to crack down on rising knife- and acid-related attacks in the country
Sikhs and Kirpans
The practice of Sikhs carrying the Kirpan as a religious symbol can be traced back to the lifetime of the sixth Sikh prophet, Guru Hargobind (1595-1644). Guru Hargobind regularly carried two swords, symbolic of a Sikhs spiritual as well as temporal obligations. Guru Hargobind introduced Sikhs to the concept of being a Sant-Sipahi (Saint-Soldier). A Sikh must be a Saint always meditating and remembering God. At the same time a Sikh is also expected to be a soldier, a person taking part in their social responsibilities to their family and community. Following the path of law, order and morality as laid out by the Sikh Gurus.
It was Guru Gobind Singh, the final living Sikh prophet who formally instituted the mandatory requirement for all baptized Sikhs to wear the Kirpan at all times. He instituted the current Sikh baptism ceremony in 1699 which is referred to as the `baptism of the sword’ (khanda di pahul).
‘Gross Domestic Product (GDP)’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.1 percent in July-September, down from 8.2 percent in the previous quarter
Reasons for this reduction in growth
- High fuel prices
- a sliding rupee
- Relatively weaker rural demand seems to have applied the brakes on the economy.
How have sectors performed in this quarter?
- The manufacturing sector grew 7.4 percent in July-September, slowing down considerably from 13.5 percent expansion in the previous quarter and 7.1 percent a year ago.
- The agriculture sector fell to 3.8 percent during July-September from 5.3 percent in the previous quarter and 2.6 percent a year ago.
- The deceleration in the farm sector could be partly because of a patchy distribution of the monsoon rains, flooding in some areas as well as late withdrawal of rains from some regions, damaging crops.
- Mining sector witnessed negative growth of (-) 2.4 percent in the quarter ended September from 6.9 percent a year ago and 0.1 percent in April-June. Similarly, trade, hotels, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting grew at 6.8 percent July-September as compared with 8.5 percent jump during the same period a year ago.
‘Ebola’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak is now the second largest in history, behind the devastating West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago, the World Health Organization reported recently
West Africa’s Ebola outbreak killed more than 11,000 people from 2014 to 2016.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. The viruses that cause EVD are located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. People can get EVD through direct contact with an infected animal (bat or nonhuman primate) or a sick or dead person infected with Ebola virus.
There is no approved vaccine or treatment for EVD. Research on EVD focuses on finding the virus’ natural host, developing vaccines to protect at-risk populations, and discovering therapies to improve treatment of the disease.
The virus spreads through direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with:
- Blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with or has died from EVD
- Objects (such as needles and syringes) contaminated with body fluids from a person sick with EVD or the body of a person who died from EVD
- Infected fruit bats or nonhuman primates (such as apes and monkeys)
- Semen from a man who recovered from EVD (through oral, vaginal, or anal sex)
Symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) include:
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8 to 10 days. Many common illnesses can have these same symptoms, including influenza (flu) or malaria.
‘HysIS’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C43) successfully launched 31 satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC)
HysIS is an earth observation satellite built around ISRO’s Mini Satellite2 (IMS-2) bus weighing about 380kg. The mission life of the satellite is five years.
The primary goal of HysIS is to study the earth’s surface in both the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Data from the satellite will be used for a wide range of applications including agriculture, forestry, soil/geological environments, coastal zones and inland waters, etc.
About PSLV launch vehicle
PSLV is a four stage launch vehicle with a large solid rocket motor forming the first stage, an earth storable liquid stage as the second stage, a high performance solid rocket motor as third stage and a liquid stage with engines as fourth stage.
‘KONKAN’ (GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: Naval cooperation between India and the United Kingdom is based on the long term strategic relationship between both countries. Both Navies have, over the years, undertaken bilateral activities such as training exchanges and technical cooperation. The Bilateral KONKAN exercise provides a platform for the two Navies to periodically exercise at sea and in harbour, so as to build interoperability and share best practices.
Objective of the exercise
The exercise is aimed at deriving mutual benefit from each others’ experiences and is indicative of the continuing cooperation between the two countries. The inter-operability achieved over the years as a result of such exercises has proved to be operationally beneficial to both navies.
‘SAUBHAGYA’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: 8 States have achieved 100% saturation in household electrification under Saubhagya namely Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Bihar, J&K, Mizoram, Sikkim, Telangana and West Bengal. Thus total 15 States in the country now have 100 % household electrification.
About the scheme
Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana –“Saubhagya” is a scheme to ensure electrification of all willing households in the country in rural as well as urban areas.
The objective of the ‘Saubhagya’ is to provide energy access to all by last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining un-electrified households in rural as well as urban areas to achieve universal household electrification in the country
The beneficiaries for free electricity connections would be identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data. However, un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bill.
The solar power packs of 200 to 300 Wp with battery bank for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas, comprises of Five LED lights, One DC fan, One DC power plug. It also includes the Repair and Maintenance (R&M) for 5 years.
For easy and accelerated implementation of the Scheme, modern technology shall be used for household survey by using Mobile App. Beneficiaries shall be identified and their application for electricity connection along with applicant photograph and identity proof shall be registered on spot. The Gram Panchayat/Public institutions in the rural areas may be authorised to collect application forms along with complete documentation, distribute bills and collect revenue in consultation with the Panchayat Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies.
The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) will remain the nodal agency for the operationalisation of the scheme throughout the country.
‘Anti-microbial resistance’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) may be one of the biggest killers by 2050 and it may kill over one crore people every year worldwide. It is all set to become the commonest cause of deaths and will surpass deaths due to cancer, said Vinod K. Paul, member, Niti Ayog.
Stressing on concerted efforts to check AMR, Dr. Paul said microbiologists should work towards creating more awareness among the public about decreasing the use of antibiotics.
What is AMR?
Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics). Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.
As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.
Why is AMR a concern?
New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.
Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk.
Antimicrobial resistance increases the cost of health care with lengthier stays in hospitals and more intensive care required.
Antimicrobial resistance is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Factors affecting the rise of AMR
Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating this process. In many places, antibiotics are overused and misused in people and animals, and often given without professional oversight. Examples of misuse include when they are taken by people with viral infections like colds and flu, and when they are given as growth promoters in animals or used to prevent diseases in healthy animals.
Antimicrobial resistant-microbes are found in people, animals, food, and the environment (in water, soil and air). They can spread between people and animals, including from food of animal origin, and from person to person. Poor infection control, inadequate sanitary conditions and inappropriate food-handling encourage the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
‘Federal bodies’ (GS2: Governance)
Issue: Indian healthcare and agriculture sectors need a federal institution similar to the GST Council to coordinate State and Central policies and schemes opined
While both health and agriculture are State subjects under the Constitution, Centrally sponsored schemes are carried out in both sectors.
Laying out the case for a federal structure in the case of healthcare, both the Centre and the States spent resources, ran schemes, and established hospitals and other institutions. A new federal body on the lines GST council would bring in more efficiency and effectiveness into public healthcare system
‘Non-banking finance firms’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: In a move to make more liquidity available to non–banking finance firms, the Reserve Bank of India has relaxed the securitisation norms by relaxing the minimum holding period requirement
RBI has decided to relax the Minimum Holding Period (MHP) requirement for originating NBFCs, as they are now allowed to securitise loans with maturity of more than five years after holding them for six months on their books, as compared to one year earlier.
Reason for this move
The NBFC sector is facing liquidity shortage after Infrastructure Leasing & Finance Services, a core investment company, started defaulting on loans which resulted in the government dismantling the existing board of IL&FS and installing a new one. The cost of funds has gone up for the non-banking finance firms putting pressure on profitability.
What is an NBFC?
A Non Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 of India, engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares, stock, bonds, hire-purchase insurance business or chit-fund business but does not include any institution whose principal business includes agriculture, industrial activity or the sale, purchase or construction of immovable property.
The working and operations of NBFCs are regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
NBFCs perform functions similar to that of banks but there are a few differences-
- Provides Banking services to People without holding a Bank license,
- An NBFC cannot accept Demand Deposits,
- An NBFC is not a part of the payment and settlement system and as such,
- An NBFC cannot issue Cheques drawn on itself, and
- Deposit insurance facility of the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available for NBFC depositors, unlike banks,
- An NBFC is not required to maintain Reserve Ratios (CRR, SLR etc.)
- An NBFC cannot indulge Primarily in Agricultural, Industrial Activity, Sale-Purchase, Construction of Immovable Property
- Foreign Investment allowed up to 100%.
‘Reggae’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Reggae music, whose chill, lilting grooves won international fame thanks to artists like Bob Marley, recently secured a coveted spot on the United Nations’ list of global cultural treasures.
UNESCO, the world body’s cultural and scientific agency, added the genre that originated in Jamaica to its collection of “intangible cultural heritage” deemed worthy of protection and promotion.
About UNESCO’s ‘Intangible Cultural heritage’
The term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.
The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minority groups and for mainstream social groups within a State, and is as important for developing States as for developed ones.
Intangible cultural heritage is:
- Traditional, contemporary and living at the same time: intangible cultural heritage does not only represent inherited traditions from the past but also contemporary rural and urban practices in which diverse cultural groups take part;
- Inclusive: we may share expressions of intangible cultural heritage that are similar to those practiced by others. Whether they are from the neighbouring village, from a city on the opposite side of the world, or have been adapted by peoples who have migrated and settled in a different region, they all are intangible cultural heritage: they have been passed from one generation to another, have evolved in response to their environments and they contribute to giving us a sense of identity and continuity, providing a link from our past, through the present, and into our future. Intangible cultural heritage does not give rise to questions of whether or not certain practices are specific to a culture. It contributes to social cohesion, encouraging a sense of identity and responsibility which helps individuals to feel part of one or different communities and to feel part of society at large;
- Representative: intangible cultural heritage is not merely valued as a cultural good, on a comparative basis, for its exclusivity or its exceptional value. It thrives on its basis in communities and depends on those whose knowledge of traditions, skills and customs are passed on to the rest of the community, from generation to generation, or to other communities;
- Community-based: intangible cultural heritage can only be heritage when it is recognized as such by the communities, groups or individuals that create, maintain and transmit it – without their recognition, nobody else can decide for them that a given expression or practice is their heritage.
India’s intangible cultural heritage
|ICH Element||Year of Inscription|
|1.||Tradition of Vedic chanting||
|Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana||2008|
|3.||Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre||
|4.||Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India||
|Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala||2010|
|6.||Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan||
|8.||Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India||
|9.||Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur||
|10.||Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India||
|Nawrouz, Novruz, Nowrouz, Nowrouz, Nawrouz, Nauryz, Nooruz, Nowruz, Navruz, Nevruz, Nowruz, Navruz||