Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 20, 2017

Environment & Ecology

National Conference on Status of Invasive Alien Species
List of alien invasive animal species compiled by ZSI

  • Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) for the first time compiled a list of alien invasive animal species, totalling 157.
  • This number excludes invasive microbe species.
  • This compilation was announced on the sidelines of National Conference on Status of Invasive Alien Species in India organised by the ZSI and Botanical Survey of India (BSI).

Enlighten about the announcement –

  • Of the total 157 listed species by ZSI, 58 are found on land and in freshwater habitats, while 99 are found in marine ecosystem.
  • The 58 invasive species found on land and in freshwater comprises 19 species of fish, 31 species of arthropods, 3 of molluscs and birds, 1 of reptile and 2 of mammals

Enlighten about Alien invasive species

  • Alien species become ‘invasive’ when they are introduced deliberately or accidentally outside their natural areas, where they out-compete native species and upset ecological balance.
  • Invasive animal species pose a threat to biodiversity and human well-being. They harm agriculture and biodiversity.
  • Common characteristics of invasive species are rapid reproduction and growth, high dispersal ability, ability to survive on various food types and in a wide range of environmental condition and ability to adapt physiologically to new conditions (phenotypic plasticity).
  • Among alien invasive marine species, genus Ascidia accounts for maximum number of species (31), followed by Arthropods (26), Annelids (16), Cnidarian (11), Bryzoans (6), Molluscs (5), Ctenophora (3), and Entoprocta (1).

Some of alien species are

Achatina fulica (African apple snail):

  • It is most invasive among all alien fauna in India.
  • It is mollusc and was first reported in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Now it is found all across country and is threatening habitats of several native species.

Paracoccus marginatus (Papaya Mealy Bug):

  • It is native to Mexico and Central America.
  • It is believed to have destroyed huge crops of papaya in Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

Phenacoccus solenopsis (Cotton Mealybug):

  • It is native of North America.
  • It has severely affected cotton crops in the Deccan.

Pterygoplichthys pardalis (Amazon sailfin catfish):

  • It is responsible for destroying fish populations in the wetlands of Kolkata.

Defence

Pratap Helicopters

  • The Soviet-era MI-8, also known as ‘Pratap’, the backbone of the Indian Air Force helicopter operations, was recently phased out, bringing an end to its glorious service career spanning 45 years.
  • Formally inducted in 1972 and rechristened as “Pratap”, MI-8 took part in several major IAF operations, including Operation Meghdoot in the Siachen Glacier and the Indian Peace Keeping Force operation in Sri Lanka.
  • The helicopter, inducted in 10 operational helicopter units, was also extensively used in Humanitarian and Disaster Relief operations, besides being associated with VIP/VVIP flying.

Agreements

Strive Project
India signs Financing Agreement with the World Bank for US$ 125 Million for “Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (Strive) Project

  • A Financing Agreement for IDA Credit of USD 125 million (equivalent) for the “Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (STRIVE) Project” was signed by the Government of India with the World Bank yesterday in the national capital. HEALTH NEWS
  • The Objective of the operation is to improve access to quality and market-driven vocational training provided in it is and apprenticeships.
  • The result areas for the project include Improved Performance of Industrial Training Institutes; Increased Capacities of State Governments to Support Industrial Training Institutes and Apprenticeship Training; Improved Teaching and Learning; and Improved and Broadened Apprenticeship Training.
  • The closing date for the project is 30th November, 2022.

Health Sector

Screws Tightened on Antibiotics Prescriptions

  • Alarmed over the growing antibiotic resistance that has made it difficult to treat many bacterial infections, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has advised doctors to follow strictly guidelines while prescribing antibiotics.
  • IMA has advised its members to mandatorily restrict the usage of antibiotics for treatment of proven bacterial infections.
  • It has also come out with a policy on anti-microbial resistance.
  • Despite the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) setting up the National Anti-Microbial Resistance Research and Surveillance Network (AMRRSN) to enable compilation of data of such resistance at different levels of healthcare and publishing of treatment guidelines for anti-microbial use in common syndromes, the problem of multi-drug resistance due to widespread and indiscriminate use of antimicrobial and antibiotic drugs continues unabated in the country.
  • Antibiotics are medicine used to treat infections caused by bacteria.
  • Antibiotic Resistance refers to resistance developed by bacteria against antibiotics or the ability of bacteria to mutate or change so as to resist the effects of antibiotics.
  • The more we use them, and the more we abuse them, the less effective they become.
  • Antibiotics are unquestionably useful against bacterial infections. However, indiscriminate use has resulted in development of resistance in patients with bacterial infections thereby leading to long lasting illnesses.
  • It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately.

National

RERA’s Administration Altered

  • The work of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, which mandates the establishment of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), will be looked after by the Urban Affairs Ministry.
  • The central government has amended the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, in this regard.

Enlighten about Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016:

  • The RERA is for regulation and promotion of the real estate sector and to ensure sale of plot, apartment or building in an efficient and transparent manner and to protect the interest of consumers in the real estate sector.
  • It makes it mandatory for all builders – developing a project where the land exceeds 500 square metre – to register with RERA before launching or even advertising their project.
  • The promoter of a real estate development firm has to maintain a separate escrow account for each of their projects.
  • A minimum 70% of the money from investors and buyers will have to be deposited. This money can only be used for the construction of the project and the cost borne towards the land.
  • RERA requires builders to submit the original approved plans for their ongoing projects and the alterations that they made later.
  • They also have to furnish details of revenue collected from allottees, how the funds were utilised, the timeline for construction, completion, and delivery that will need to be certified by an Engineer/Architect/practicing Chartered Accountant.

Women & Child Development

Plans to Amend the Juvenile Justice Act 2015

  • In an effort to tackle the delay in issuing adoption orders by courts, which are supposed to dispose such cases within two months from the date of filing, the Ministry of Women and Child Development is planning to amend the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015.

Enlighten about the proposal -

  • Empower the executive magistrate, instead of the court, to issue orders under the adoption proceedings.
  • Presently, according to the JJ Act, once an adoption order is issued by a court, the child becomes the son/daughter of the adoptive parents for all purposes from the date on which the adoption order takes effect.
  • Further, all ties of the child and his or her biological family stand severed and are replaced by those created by the adoption order.

Enlighten about the Juveniles Justice Act, 2015 –

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 came into force in January, 2016.
  • The new Act repeals the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
  • The JJ Act, 2015 provides for strengthened provisions for both children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law.

Science & Technology

Deep Learning
Kepler-90i and Kepler-80g.

  • Scientists have announced the discovery of two new exoplanets, Kepler-90i and Kepler-80g.
  • With this discovery, it is now clear that there is another star besides the Sun that has eight planets orbiting it.

Uses of Deep learning neural networks:

  • The new exoplanets have been discovered using a deep learning neural network — an artificial intelligence tool that mimics the workings of a human brain.
  • Scientists “trained” their computer to analyse light readings made by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which are archived and made available for anyone to use.
  • During its mission from 2009 to 2013, the Kepler Space Telescope surveyed nearly 200,000 stars, with 35,000 possible planet signals.
  • The network was made to learn to identify true signals using 15,000 previously vetted signals.
  • They then studied the weaker signals recorded from 670 star systems that had multiple known planets orbiting them, finally coming up with this discovery.
  • The network also identified another Earth-sized exoplanet, Kepler 80g, orbiting the star Kepler 80.
  • This is a very stable system in which Kepler 80g and four of its neighbours are locked together in a so-called resonant chain.

Enlighten about Deep Learning?

  • Deep learning is a machine learning technique that teaches computers to do what comes naturally to humans: learn by example.
  • In deep learning, a computer model learns to perform classification tasks directly from images, text, or sound. Deep learning models can achieve state-of-the-art accuracy, sometimes exceeding human-level performance.
  • Models are trained by using a large set of labeled data and neural network architectures that contain many layers.

Environment

SENDAI Framework :

  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is conducting the first national-level Training of Trainers programme to sensitise various Central Ministries and Departments on utilisation of Sendai Monitor for developing action plans for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
  • The programme is being organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction-Global Education and Training Institute (UNISDR-GETI).
  • This training programme will build the capacity of the participants to utilise defined indicators to monitor the progress of the Sendai targets.
  • Training modules at the programme will also enable them to lead consultations and train others on the monitoring of the Sendai Framework Targets.

Enlighten about the history of it -

  • In June 2016, India became one of the first countries to align its National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) with the SFDRR, which clearly identifies regional, national and local targets along with short, medium and long-term timelines.
  • Various activities are being undertaken across the country to achieve the targets identified in the SFDRR.

Enlighten about Sendai Framework

  • The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), 2015-2030, is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda and identifies targets and priority actions towards reducing disaster risks and implementing development that is both resilient and sustainable.
  • The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.