20th Mar, 2019-IAS Current Affairs
‘Social media and Code of Ethics’ (GS2: Elections)
Issue: The Election Commission (EC) met representatives of social media platforms to address growing concerns over their use by political parties during campaigning for polls, and to ensure the model code of conduct (MCC) is not violated.
Highlights of this meeting:
- During the meeting, the Commission highlighted key issues such as the requirement of an ethics code, a dedicated grievance channel, pre-certification and transparency in expenditure of political advertisements, besides a notification mechanism for violations of electoral laws.
- The commission is also planning to introduce a clause for users who would furnish a voluntary agreement stating that they would not misuse social media for election or political purposes.
- Issues such as how social media will play a role in curbing fake news and also if there can be a possible penalty for social media misuse for election or political purposes were also considered.
- The meeting also focused on the platforms evolving a notification mechanism for acting on violation of Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951 and preventing misuse of the platforms.
‘Lokpal’ (GS2: Ombudsman)
Issue: The first Lokpal, the national anti-corruption ombudsman, has been officially set up with President Ram Nath Kovind Tuesday appointing former Supreme Court judge Justice P C Ghose as its chairperson, and eight members, including an equal number of judicial and non-judicial names.
About the Lokpal act
- The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, which envisaged the setting up of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states, was enacted in 2013 and received Presidential assent on January 1, 2014.
- According to the Act, the Lokpal is to be headed by a chairperson, “who is or has been a Chief Justice of India or is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or an eminent person… of impeccable integrity and outstanding ability having special knowledge and expertise of not less than twenty-five years in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management”.
- It states that the body will also consist of not more than eight members out of whom 50 per cent shall be judicial members.
- The Lokpal can inquire or initiate an inquiry into allegations of corruption against sitting and former Prime Ministers. However, it cannot exercise this power in allegations of corruption related to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space. Such inquiries will also have to be considered by a full bench of the Lokpal consisting of its chairperson and all members, and approved by at least two-thirds of its members.
- The Lokpal will also have the power of inquiry into allegations of corruption against sitting and former Ministers and MPs but not in respect of anything said, or a vote cast, by them in Parliament or any House committee. It will also have jurisdiction over all classes of public servants.
‘Abel prize’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The Abel Prize in mathematics was on Tuesday awarded to Karen Uhlenbeck of the U.S. for her work on partial differential equations, the first woman to win the award
Karen Uhlenbeck receives the Abel Prize 2019 for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape. Her theories have revolutionized our understanding of minimal surfaces, such as those formed by soap bubbles, and more general minimization problems in higher dimensions
About Abel Prize
It is a Norwegian prize awarded annually by the King of Norway to one or more outstanding mathematicians. It is named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802–1829) and directly modeled after the Nobel Prizes. It comes with a monetary award of 6 million Norwegian Kroner (NOK) (€620,000 or $700,000)
The award ceremony takes place in the Aula of the University of Oslo, where the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded between 1947 and 1989. The Abel Prize board has also established an Abel symposium, administered by the Norwegian Mathematical Society.
‘Supermoon and Spring Equinox’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The full moon of March is special and rare as it is the last Supermoon of the year and it coincides with the Spring Equinox. The phenomenon is generally known as ‘Super Worm Equinox Moon’.
According to Earthsky, this is the closest coincidence of a full moon with the spring equinox in 19 years. The last instance happened in March 2000. Also, the full moon and spring equinox won’t happen together again for 11 years, or until March 2030.
What is a Spring Equinox?
The Equinox is the moment when the length of day and night become equal and the sun’s rays fall directly on the earth’s equator. At this time, the earth is neither tilted towards the sun nor away from the sun making the sunrise at due east and sunset at due west, with days and night counting roughly 12 hours each.
The phenomenon happens twice a year– once as autumn equinox in September and the other in March as spring equinox.
About Super moon
When the moon is at its closest point to the earth, it is called ‘perigee’ and when a full moon coincides with a perigee, it is called Supermoon
During a Supermoon, the moon appears bigger and brighter than usual. To be precise, the moon’s closeness to Earth makes it look up to 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than a full moon at its farthest point from Earth, according to NASA.
India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) (GS3: Security)
Issue: Indonesian Naval Ship KRI Sultan Thaha Syaifuddin and Maritime Patrol Aircraft CN-235 led by Cmde Dafit Santoso arrived at Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India for the Opening Ceremony of the 33rd edition of the India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) to be held from 19 Mar to 04 Apr 2019.
Significance of this exercise
The IND-INDO CORPAT Series of bilateral seek to underscore India’s peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly Maritime neighbors countries to ensure good order in the maritime domain, consolidate interoperability and strengthen existing bonds of friendship between India and Indonesia. During the stay in Port Blair harbour, various activities such as official calls, formal reception onboard ship, sporting fixtures between both navies, ship open to visitors and professional interactions have been planned.
Indian Naval assets have been increasingly deployed in the recent times to address the maritime concerns on the region. In addition, as part of the Indian Government’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), the Indian Navy has also been involved in assisting countries in the Indian Ocean Region with EEZ Surveillance, Search and Rescue, and other capacity-building and capability-enhancement activities. The 33rd IND-INDO CORPAT, also coinciding with 70 years of India-Indonesia diplomatic ties, will contribute towards the Indian Navy’s efforts to consolidate inter-operability and forge strong bonds of friendship across the seas.
‘Exercise MITRA SHAKTHI-VI’ (GS3: Security)
Issue: Exercise MITRA SHAKTI is conducted annually as part of military diplomacy and interaction between armies of India & Sri Lanka.
Objective of the exercise
The aim of the exercise is to build and promote close relations between armies of both the countries and to enhance ability of joint exercise commander to take military contingents of both nations under command. The exercise will involve tactical level operations in an international Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist environment under United Nations mandate.
‘El-Nino’ (GS1: Geophysical phenomenon)
Issue: The El Nino weather phenomenon is gaining strength, latest global forecasts indicate, potentially affecting the South-west (June to monsoon in India September)
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is an 80% chance that El Nino will prevail in March-May, decreasing to 60% during the June-August period, when the South-West monsoon normally arrives.
El Niño is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns. The cycle begins when warm water in the western tropical Pacific Ocean shifts eastward along the equator toward the coast of South America. Normally, this warm water pools near Indonesia and the Philippines. During an El Niño, the Pacific’s warmest surface waters sit offshore of northwestern South America.
Forecasters declare an official El Niño when they see both ocean temperatures and rainfall from storms veer to the east. Experts also look for prevailing trade winds to weaken and even reverse direction during the El Niño climate phenomenon. These changes set up a feedback loop between the atmosphere and the ocean that boosts El Niño conditions.
The location of tropical storms shifts eastward during an El Niño because atmospheric moisture is fuel for thunderstorms, and the greatest amount of evaporation takes place above the ocean’s warmest water.
There is also an opposite of an El Niño, called La Niña. This refers to times when waters of the tropical eastern Pacific are colder than normal and trade winds blow more strongly than usual.
Collectively, El Niño and La Niña are parts of an oscillation in the ocean-atmosphere system called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO cycle, which also has a neutral phase.
El Niños occur every three to five years but may come as frequently as every two years or as rarely as every seven years. Typically, El Niños occur more frequently than La Niñas. Each event usually lasts nine to 12 months. They often begin to form in spring, reach peak strength between December and January, and then decay by May of the following year.
The warmer waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean have important effects on the world’s weather. The greatest impacts are generally not felt until winter or spring over the Northern Hemisphere, L’Heureux said. The 1982-83 El Niño is estimated to have caused more than $10 billion in weather-related damage worldwide.
Strong El Niños are also associated with above-average precipitation. El Niño also affects precipitation in other areas, including Indonesia and northeastern South America, which tend toward drier-than-normal conditions. Temperatures in Australia and Southeast Asia run hotter than average. El Niño-caused drought can be widespread, affecting southern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands and the Canadian prairies.
‘Cyclone Idai’ (GS1: Geophysical phenomenon)
Issue: The Indian Navy had launched a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operation in coordination with local officials to evacuate about 5,000 people stranded at Buzi near Port Beira in Mozambique
According to United Nations officials, cyclone Idai, a category 4 tropical storm, which hit southern Africa, is likely the worst weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere with over 1.7 million people affected in Mozambique alone.
The Defence Minister of Mozambique visited the ships before the operation commenced. The Indian Navy was the first to respond and so far no other Navy has reached
In 2017, India provided $10 million for food grains after Mozambique suffered food shortage as a result of natural calamities. The Navy has made HADR assistance a major tool of its foreign cooperation initiative in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which has a high incidence of natural disasters.