Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 1, 2017

Defence

Indian Air force contingent leaves for Israel to Participate in ‘Ex Blue Flag-17’

  • A 45 member contingent of the Indian Air Force left for Israel today to participate in exercise ‘Blue Flag-17’.
  • Blue Flag is a bi-annual multilateral exercise which aims to strengthen military cooperation amongst participating nations.
  • Indian Air Force is participating with the C-130J special operations aircraft along with Garud commandos.
  • The exercise would provide a platform for sharing of knowledge, combat experience and in improving operational capability of the participating nations.
  • The exercise is being conducted at Uvda Air Force Base in Israel
  • This is the first time the Indian Air Force is operating with Israeli AF in a multilateral exercise setting.

Bilateral Relations

India, Italy sign six pacts and to enhance counter-terror cooperation

  • India and Italy have signed six agreements to boost cooperation in the fields of railways safety, energy and promoting mutual investments, among others
  • They were signed after detailed talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni.
  • He is first prime ministerial trip from Italy to visit India in more than a decade.

Takeaways from talks

  • Both leaders discussed wide-ranging issues, including the emerging security challenges facing the world such as terrorism and cybercrimes, while agreed to enhance cooperation to counter them.
  • They vowed to fight violent extremism in all forms and manifestations and agreed to strengthen consultation mechanism through regular exchange of assessments and information, training and capacity building programmes in sphere of counter-terrorism.
  • They also resolved to enhance cooperation to take decisive and concerted actions against al-Qaeda and ISIS. They also called upon all the UN member countries to designate terrorist entities in line with the relevant UNSC Resolutions.

Singed Agreements are

  • MoU on cooperation in field of Energy.
  • Executive Protocol on Cultural Cooperation.
  • Joint Declaration of Intent of Cooperation for Safety in Railway sector.
  • MoU for promoting mutual investments between Italian Trade Agency and Invest India.
  • MoU on 70 years of diplomatic relations between Indian Council of Cultural Relations and Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation of Italy.
  • MoU between Training Unit of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Government of Italy and Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Affairs, India.

Health Care Sector

India tops list of new TB cases in 2016: WHO Report

  • According to the Global TB Report 2017 released by World Health Organisation (WHO), India has topped list of seven countries, accounting for 64% of the over 10 million new tuberculosis (TB) cases worldwide in year 2016.
  • India was followed by Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa.

Enlighten about the report

  • The report said, an estimated 1.7 million people died from TB in 2016, including nearly 4 lakh people who were co-infected with HIV, recording a drop by 4% as compared to 2015.
  • India along with China and Russia accounted for almost half of around 5 lakh multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases registered in 2016.
  • There were estimated 600000 new cases with resistance to rifampicin, the most effective first-line drug, of which 490000 had MDR- TB.

Main Challenges

  • The biggest challenge was underreporting and under diagnosis of TB cases, especially in countries with weak health systems and large unregulated private sectors.
  • Of estimated 10.4 million new cases, only 6.3 million were detected and officially notified in 2016, leaving a gap of 4.1 million.
  • India, Indonesia and Nigeria accounted for almost half of this global gap.
  • Half a million reported cases of HIV-associated TB, 15% were not on antiretroviral therapy (ART) as recommended by WHO.
  • Most of gaps related to HIV-associated TB were in WHO African Region.
  • Further, investments in low-and middle-income countries for TB care and prevention fall almost US 2.3 billion dollars short of the US 9.2 billion dollars needed in 2017.
  • It calls for more domestic funding in middle-income countries and more international donor support to support low-income countries.

Defence

DAC clears mega project to acquire 111 helicopters for Indian Navy

Approval Process

  • Acceptance of necessity AoN is first step of procurement of an defence equipment. After DAC gives AoN, request for proposal can be issued to firms, seeking their responses with technical and commercial bids.
  • Before this step, Indian Navy had issued a request for information (RFI) for procurement of 111 NUHs.

Enlighten about it –

  • It is first proposal under strategic partnership model to get approval which is considered as a major boost to defence manufacturing in country.
  • Under strategic partnership model, foreign Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) ties up with a domestic strategic partner to manufacture weapon systems.
  • As part of proposal, 16 naval utility helicopters (NUHs) will be procured in fly away state from selected foreign OEM and remaining 95 will be made by Indian strategic partner in India.
  • Firms, including Sikorsky, Bell and Airbus are likely contenders for this project and will have to respond to RFI with information on capabilities they have to manufacture these helicopters.

Active towed array sonar systems

  • DAC has also accorded AoN for procurement of 9 active towed array sonar systems (advanced) for Indian Navy at an estimated cost of Rs 450 crore.
  • This sonar system will be fitted on modern naval vessels and will enhance their submarine detection capabilities.
  • This is especially important in light of China planning to increase its submarine fleet in the coming years and its growing naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

Report ( Law Commission)

Life term for government officials indulging in torture: Law Commission

  • The Law Commission in latest report has recommended government to ratify Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and also recommended life in jail for public servants convicted of torture.

Recommendations

UN convention

  • Government should ratify UN convention on torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment as it leading to difficulties in extraditing criminals from foreign countries due to the absence of a law preventing harsh treatment by authorities.

‘Prevention of torture bill, 2017:

  • It has proposed legislation to amend various laws to prevent torture by government officials.
  • The bill proposes “stringent punishment” to perpetrators to curb menace of torture and to have deterrent effect on acts of torture. It could extend up to life imprisonment and also fine.

Compensation:

  • It suggested amendments to Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to accommodate provisions regarding compensation and burden of proof.
  • It recommended an amendment to section 357B to incorporate payment of compensation in addition to payment of fine provided in Indian Penal Code.
  • For compensation to victims, courts should decide upon justiciable compensation after taking into account various facets of individual case, such as nature, purpose, extent and manner of injury, including mental agony caused to the victim.
  • The courts should also bear in mind socio-economic background of the victim and ensure that compensation will help victim bear expenses on medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Burden of proof

  • It held that state own responsibility for injuries caused by its agents on citizens and held that principle of sovereign immunity cannot override rights assured by Constitution.
  • It calls for effective mechanism must be put in place to protect victims of torture, complainants and witnesses against possible threats, violence or ill treatment.
  • New section 114B should be inserted in Indian Evidence Act to ensure that in case person in police custody sustains injuries, it is presumed that those injuries have been inflicted by police, and burden of proof shall lie on authority concerned to explain such injury.

UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

  • It is commonly known as United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT).
  • It is an international human rights treaty, under review of UN that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
  • It requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.

Agriculture

Government inks $200 million Loan Agreement for Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project

  • The Union Government and World Bank have signed $200 million Loan Agreement for Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project.
  • The $200 million loan from World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a 7-year grace period, and a maturity of 16.5 years.

Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project

  • The Project will support Assam Government to facilitate agri-business investments, increase agriculture productivity and market access and enable small farm holders produce crops that are resilient to recurrent floods or droughts in state.
  • The project will promote market-led production that can deal with vagaries of climate change.
  • Market-led production system will take advantage of rapidly changing market, introduce crops that are resilient to climate change, increase production and manage risks for farmers
  • Besides, it will focus on geographic clustering of production base for certain commodities which will help agri-enterprises take advantage of existing and future market opportunities that they may not necessarily achieve alone.
  • Successful clusters will help to innovate and adapt ‘best practices’ across agricultural value chains.

International

China launches world’s first hybrid electric tram powered by hydrogen fuel cells

  • The first of its kind ecologically-friendly tram was domestically developed by China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) in 2015.

Enlighten about it -

  • The ecologically-friendly tram emits only water without any pollutants. It does not produce any nitrogen oxides (NOx), as the temperature of reaction inside the fuel cell is kept under 100 degrees Celsius.
  • The tram, having three carriages with 66 seats and can run for 40 kilometers at a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour after being refilled with 12 kilograms of hydrogen.
  • The tram coach rides on a 136-year-old railway line and connects several industrial heritage sites of Tangshan, one of China’s oldest industrial cities not far from the capital Beijing.
  • It has latest low-floor technology which has kept the distance between carriage floor of tram and rail line only 35 centimeters and remove need for station platforms and making boarding easy for passengers

Government Schemes

MSME Samadhaan: Government launches MSME Delayed Payment Portal

  • The portal aims at empowering micro and small entrepreneurs across country to directly register their cases relating to delayed payments by Central Ministries, Departments, CPSEs, State Governments.

Enlighten about it

  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 contains provisions to deal with cases of delayed payment to Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs).
  • As per provisions, buyer is liable to pay compound interest with monthly rests to supplier on amount at three times of bank rate notified by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in case he does not make payment to supplier for supplies of goods or services within 45 days of day of acceptance of goods and services or deemed day of acceptance.

Agriculture

Microsoft Partners Karnataka Government to bring AI to agriculture

  • Karnataka government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with tech giant Microsoft for empowering farmers with technology-oriented solutions like Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics

State Specific

Multi – grain meal to replace upma in tribal schools

Background

  • In a major initiative, the district administration has readied a plan to introduce multi-grain meals in 64 tribal welfare residential educational institutions across the Khammam district of Telangana state.

Enlighten about the programme –

  • The nutrition intervention envisages introduction of millet-based snacks in the menu of as many as 46 Ashram High Schools and 18 Tribal Welfare hostels spread in 23 mandals of the district.
  • The multi-grain meal containing sorghum and finger millet (ragi) as ingredients will replace the upma served as breakfast in the tribal welfare educational institutions.
  • District administration to harness ICRISAT project.

ICRISAT

  • The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international organization which conducts agricultural research for rural development, headquartered in Patancheru, Hyderabad.
  • Its charter was signed by the FAO and the UNDP.
  • The original goal was to use crop improvement research as the basis to improve food availability in drought-prone areas of the tropics.
  • ICRISAT performs crop improvement research, using conventional as well as methods derived from biotechnology, on the following crops: Chickpea, Pigeonpea, Groundnut, Pearl millet, Sorghum, Finger Millet and Small millets.

Science & Tech

China plans to build gigantic DNA database platform

  • China plans to build a $1 billion super-sized DNA sequencing platform in the Jiangsu Province.

Aim

  • Store genetic information of millions of its ethnic Chinese population

Use

  • Researchers will use big data created in the database to study genetic mutations related to major diseases,
  • look for the impact of interaction between genes and environmental concerns on human heath,
  • Provide statistical support for diagnosis and treatment of major diseases