Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 1, 2017

United Nations Environment Programme

Alappuzha sails away with swachh glory, gets pat from UN

The UNEP’s report titled ‘Solid approach to waste: how 5 cities are beating pollution –

  • Osaka (Japan), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Penang (Malaysia) and Cajicá (Colombia) are the other winners.
  • Alappuzha addressed the problem by introducing a decentralised waste management system
  • The city, often referred to as ‘the Venice of the East’ for its backwaters and coastal lagoons where tourists rent houseboats, had introduced a decentralised waste management system.
  • Under this, biodegradable waste was segregated at the ward level, and treated in small composting plants.
  • This provides many of its 1,74,000 residents with biogas for cooking,”
  • The UN report said. Pollution is the theme of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly, to be held in Nairobi, Kenya from December 4 to 6. “Five of the 50 anti-pollution actions listed in a UN Environment report relate directly to solid waste


Mirabai Chanu wins gold at World Weightlifting Championships

  • India’s Saikhom Mirabai Chanu won gold medal at World Weightlifting Championships held in Anaheim, United States.
  • She achieved this feat by lifting new world record of 194kg – 85kg snatch and 109kg clean-and-jerk in the 48 kg weight category.
  • Thailand’s Sukcharoen Thunya won silver medal with total lift of 193, while Segura Ana Iris won bronze medal with 182kg lift.
  • With this victory, Mirabai Chanu became first Indian in over two decades to win the medal at the Championships.
  • She is only second Indian weightlifter after Karnam Malleswari to achieve this feat.
  • Olympic bronze medallist Karnam Malleshwari had won the top prize in worlds twice in 1994 and 1995.

Bilateral Agreements

India- Singapore ink Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation

  • India and Singapore have signed Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation that will allow Indian Navy ships logistical support, including refuelling at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base located near disputed South China Sea (SCS).
  • The agreement was announced during second Defence Ministers’ Dialogue between India and Singapore held in New Delhi.

Enlighten about the agreement -

  • The Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation will allow Indian Navy ships sailing through disputed SCS or in eastern waters of Andaman Sea to refuel, restock and if needed rearm at Singapore’s Changi naval base.
  • It will allow Indian Navy to directly engage with Singaporean authorities to use their facilities unlike present structure that take weeks if political clearances need to be obtained in Singapore

What does this mean for India?

  • This means that Indian Navy ships sailing through the disputed South China Sea or in the eastern waters of the Andaman Sea will be able to refuel, restock and, if needed, rearm at Singapore’s latest naval base before continuing their mission.
  • This means the Indian Navy will be able to directly engage Singaporean authorities when they need to use their facilities unlike the present structure where a request has to be sourced from the Indian Navy to the government of Singapore through the Defence Ministry and then the External Affairs Ministry, a process that can take weeks if political clearances need to be obtained in Singapore.

Significance of this move:

  • The naval logistics agreement is the first for India with a country located east of Malacca.
  • The nearest Indian base is in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Changi base will therefore enhance the navy’s operational reach.
  • The naval base also plays a prominent role in the protection of naval vessels, repair facilities, supplies, administration and logistics support.

Strategic significance of Singapore:

  • Singapore is strategically situated on the major international sea routes – the Straits of Singapore and Malacca – and connects the Pacific and Indian Oceans making it economically important.
  • The country acts as the centre for international communications, transportations and trade to southeast Asia.
  • It works with neighbouring littoral states for safety, stability, regional peace and navigational freedom.

MoU signed between India and Italy for enhanced cooperation in the health sector

  • India and Italy have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for enhanced cooperation in health sector.
  • The objective of MoU is to establish comprehensive inter-ministerial and inter-institutional cooperation between two countries in the field of health by pooling scientific, technical, financial and human resources.
  • Its ultimate goal is to upgrade quality and reach of human, material and infrastructural resources involved in health care, medical education and training and research in both countries.

The main areas of cooperation are

  • Exchange and training of medical doctors, officials, other health professionals and experts. Providing assistance in development of human resources and setting up of health care facilities.
  • Regulation of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics and exchange of information. Short term training of human resources in health.
  • Procurement of generic and essential drugs and assistance in sourcing of drug supplies. Procurement of equipments and pharmaceutical products. Promotion of business development opportunities in pharmaceuticals.
  • Collaboration in prevention of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as neurocardiovascular diseases, COPDs, mental health, cancer and dementia with an emphasis on Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) and related factors. Collaboration in field of climate change impact on communicable diseases and vector borne diseases.
  • Nutritional aspects of food intake, including malnutrition (over-nutrition and under-nutrition) in the light of the SDG2 and organization of nutritional services.
  • Safety of production, transformation, distribution and food delivery Research and training of food industry operators. Information and communication to citizens on hygiene and food safety and healthy eating habits.

World Malaria Report – By Who

India sitting on a malaria volcano

  • In India the malaria surveillance mechanism detects a mere 8 per cent of cases, among the lowest in the world.
  • Despite this, India accounts for 6 per cent of all malaria cases reported globally.
  • Countries with weak malaria surveillance systems include India and Nigeria, two major contributors to the global burden of malaria, with 8 per cent and 16 per cent of cases, respectively, detected by the surveillance system.
  • India has the highest malaria burden in the world outside sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso.
  • India accounted for 58 per cent of all malaria deaths globally.

Enlighten about malaria

  • Malaria is a potentially life threatening parasitic disease.
  • It is caused by parasites known as Plasmodium viviax (P.vivax), Plasmodium falciparum (P.falciparum), Plasmodium malariae (P.malariae) and Plasmodium ovale (P.ovale).
  • It is transmitted by the infective bite of Anopheles mosquito.
  • The disease has an incubation period of 10-15 days which means a person may develop symptoms after a fortnight of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • The report was brought out by the World Health Organisation noted.


Arunachal’s Siang river turns black

  • The waters of the Siang river, considered the lifeline of northern Arunachal Pradesh for centuries, has suddenly turned dark black triggering panic in the frontier state.
  • The water from the river is no longer considered fit for consumption.
  • China is being blamed for these changes.
  • China has been planning to dig the world’s longest tunnel to change the course of Yarlung Tsangpo from Tibet towards Taklimakan desert in Xinjiang but has been denying the same at public platforms.

Enlighten about Siang river

  • Siang originates in China and then enters India through Arunachal Pradesh, it is then joined by two other rivers–Dibang and Lohit–as it enters Assam where it is called the Brahmaputra.


Guidelines on recall of food products issued by FSSAI

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has set guidelines for process to recall food products from markets if found unsafe.
  • The guidelines puts onus of implementing any recall on manufacturers and distributors. It has asked companies to put in place a proper plan to recall food products from markets, if found unsafe.


DAC approves procurement of new radio technology for Indian Navy

  • The Union Defence Ministry has approved procurement of 260 Software Defined Radios (SDR), a naval communication sets for Indian Navy at cost of Rs. 490 crore to ramp up surveillance on the high seas.

Enlighten about it –

  • These 260 SDRs will be procured under category of buy (India Designed Developed & Manufactured).
  • It will be first batch of indigenously designed and developed software defined radio sets to be procured by any of three services.
  • These will replace existing systems on-board warships.
  • The development of SDRs was carried out by Defence Electronics & Applications Laboratory (DEAL) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will be production Agency. The SDR technology will improve information sharing and situational awareness through secure voice communications and data transfer capabilities.

Software-defined radio (SDR) Technology

  • SDR is radio communication system where components that have been traditionally implemented in hardware are instead implemented by means of software on personal computer or embedded system.

Hwasong -15 – North Korea tests most powerful ICBM

  • North Korea successfully launched Hwasong-15, a new type of nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
  • It is North Korea’s most powerful ICBM that can reach entire eastern US seaboard and Washington.
  • The ICBM was launched from near Pyongyang and had reached height of 4,475 km and traveled 950 km before it accurately hitting a sea target.
  • It landed inside of Japan’s economic exclusion zone (EEZ) in Sea of Japan, about 250 km west of Aomori, which is on northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu.
  • It is the first ballistic missile developed by North Korea that is theoretically capable of reaching United States mainland (including Washington DC).
  • Based on its trajectory and distance during the test, the missile has range of more than 13,000 km

Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)

  • ICBM is missile launched by land-based system that is intended to carry nuclear payloads.
  • To qualify as an ICBM, the missile must have minimum range of 5,500km.
  • The most significant difference between ICBM and other ballistic missiles is its greater range and speed.
  • It enables countries to strike exceptionally distant targets with minimum warning

CLEAN SEA – 2017

Regional level Marine Oil Pollution Response Exercise Conducted by – Coast Guard

  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) conducted the Regional Level Marine Oil Pollution Response Exercise named ‘Clean Sea-2017’ at sea off Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • The objective of exercise was to ascertain preparedness of IGC, resource agencies and other stakeholders in responding to major oil spill in line with provisions of National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOS-DCP).

Need for exercise

  • The Great Channel between Nicobar Islands and Northern Sumatra that leads into Malacca Straits is marine drive of high seas.
  • Almost 200 ships cross 160-km wide Straits daily making it among busiest sea routes of world.
  • Considering, high intensity of oil tanker traffic through this route, the area is highly vulnerable to oil spills. So there is need for robust national system for oil spill response is critical

Highlights of Clean Sea-2017

  • The exercise was planned to evaluate preparedness for Response Operations for any such oil pollution incident in highly sensitive area of A&B islands.
  • The exercise was conducted in two phases for synchronizing support and cooperation provided by all stakeholders for combating oil spills in such ecologically sensitive areas.
  • The exercise saw participation of ICG Pollution Control Vessel and integration of ICG Dornier/Chetak aircraft into Oil Spill Disaster Management System for aerial assessment and delivery of Oil Spill Dispersant for mitigation of spilled oil.

Enlighten about ICG

  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) under Ministry of Defense is responsible for marine environment protection in maritime zones of India and is coordinating authority for response to oil spills in Indian waters.
  • It has drawn up National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOS-DCP) and has established three pollution response centres at Mumbai, Chennai and Port Blair.