Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 14, 2017

Sports

Pankaj Advani wins IBSF World Billiards Championship

  • Ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani won 2017 IBSF World Billiards Championship held at Doha. In the final match, he defeated Mike Russell of England 6-2 to defend the 150-up format title which he had won in Bengaluru in 2016.
  • In the semi-finals, he had defeated fellow Indian Rupesh Shah by 5-2 score, while Mike Russell got the better of Singapore’s Peter Gilchrist 5-1. It was Pankaj Advani’s overall 17th world title. He is winner of maximum number of world titles in any sport by an Indian

Enlighten about Pankaj Advani

  • He is Indian professional player of English billiards and a former professional snooker player.
  • He is only player in the world to win world titles in all formats of both, Billiards and Snooker.
  • He is the first cueist in the world to win the Grand double three times in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
  • In recognition of his achievements in sports, Union Government has bestowed several awards upon him including Arjuna Award (2004), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2006) and Padma Shri (2009).

Appointments

Audrey Azoulay appointed new DG of UNESCO

  • Former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay (45) was appointed as Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
  • She replaces outgoing DG Irina Bokova.
  • She is the 11th Director-General of UNESCO and the second woman to occupy this position. She is also first Jewish Director of UNESCO.

Enlighten about Audrey Azoulay

  • Azoulay was born on 4 August 1972 in Paris toMoroccan Jewish family from Essaouira.
  • She is the daughter of Andre Azoulay, an adviser to king Mohammed VI of Morocco.
  • She had earned master’s degree in management sciences from Paris Dauphine University in 1994 and master’s degree in business administration from Lancaster University.
  • She also studied at Sciences Po and École nationale d’administration (ENA). She was France’s Minister of Culture from February 2016 to May 2017.

Enlighten about UNESCO

  • United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
  • UNESCO is UN organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide.
  • It is special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France.
  • It promotes literacy and sex education as well as improving gender equality in countries around world.
  • It is also known for recognising world heritage sites and work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient ruins, villages and temples, and historic sites.

Focus

Crop Burning

  • This season’s stubble-burning in the north and north-western India, believed to be largely responsible for the heavy smog over Delhi, could have been avoided if the Centre and the states concerned had agreed on a formula to share the burden of a newly finalized financial incentive package to dissuade farmers from burning their crops
  • The package worth more than Rs 3,000 crore was recommended by one of the task-forces set up under the CII-NITI Aayog Cleaner Air initiative earlier this year
  • Among the easy alternatives, the task force had suggested the burning of waste in a brick-and-clay dome-like structure in the absence of oxygen to produce biochar or prali-char, a carbon-rich residue which has commercial value as a soil nutrient.
  • It was realized that farmers needed to be provided money not just to build the brick-and-clay structures but also to pay for the labour needed to cut the waste and take it to the burning facility.

Other measures

  • In the nearly year-long window, the governments also hope to sensitize the farmers to other financially rewarding alternatives of crop-burning, in which the agricultural waste could be put to more meaningful uses, like production of bio-CNG and bio-ethanol
  • But all this, including the sustainable long-term production of biochar or prali-char, requires the creation of suitable markets which will put a monetary value on agricultural waste, thus discouraging farmers from burning the stubble, which currently has zero value to them.

State Specific

Urdu declared the second official language in Telangana

  • Every office in the state will now have an Urdu speaking officer. State government will appoint Urdu officers in all offices over next 60 days to receive petitions from public and reply them in Urdu.
  • Apart from this, all competitive examinations in the state will also be conducted in Urdu.

Constitutional provision of Official Language

  • Article 345 of the Constitution deals with Official language or languages of a state which empowers state legislature to adopt ‘any one or more of the languages in use in the State or Hindi as the language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes’ of the concerned State.

Haryana becomes first state to treat Hepatitis-C patients with oral medicine

  • This is for first time, state government has included oral medicine in government hospitals.
  • This oral medicine will be provided free of cost for permanent residents of all categories at the district level.
  • The medicine and treatment costs about Rs 28,000 to Rs 30,000 in market, but state government will provide it free.

Hepatitis

  • Hepatitis is a medical condition in which there occurs inflammation of liver cells and its complications vary with type of infection.
  • There are 5 types of hepatitis viz. A, B, C, D and E. Each type is caused by a different hepatitis virus.
  • It is mostly caused by a group of viruses called hepatitis viruses and also be caused by intoxicants like drugs, alcohol, chemicals and other infections and autoimmune diseases.
  • The disease mostly spreads through infection and blades used by barbers were also responsible for this.

Railway Reforms

Project Saksham: Railways launches largest time-bound upskilling exercise for its employees

  • The Indian Railways has launched Project Saksham, country’s largest time-bound “upskilling” exercise for its employees to boost their efficiency.
  • Project Saksham aims to upgrade the skillsets of 13 lakh-strong workforce of Indian Railways with a single drive spanning nine months. It will start in January 2018 and go on till September 2018.

What’s the need

  • Indian Railways is constantly getting bad publicity on account of derailments, accidents, poor services and inefficiency of its employees.
  • The mass skilling exercise aims for image makeover of Indian Railways by increasing the productivity and efficiency of its employees

Enlighten about it

  • Under Project Saksham, over the next one year, all employees in each zone will be put through a week’s training in skills and knowledge relevant to their work area.
  • It will be a five-day-on-the-job or classroom training in Railway Training Centres, depending on the nature of their employment.
  • The nature of short-duration training will range from refresher courses, with eye on evolved global practices in respective areas, to skills in existing lining of functioning.
  • Employees from rank of a peon to higher echelons of Railway Board Members will undergo the training.

International Summits

APEC summit held in Vietnam

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit was held in Da Nang, Vietnam. The theme of summit was ‘Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future’.
  • Leaders of 21 Pacific Rim countries attended this meeting. This was second time Vietnam hosted APEC summit, having hosted the event previously in 2006.
  • Next year’s APEC summit will be held in Papua New Guinea.

Highlights of Summit

  • The summit laid emphasis on collaborative activity, such as provision of support for small businesses, promoting sustainable growth and deepening economic integration.
  • US and China, two economic powers in the region held opposing views on deepening economic integration. China expressed support to further globalisation, US called for support to ‘fair trade’.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC )

  • It is regional economic forum of 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
  • These 21 member countries collectively account for nearly 50% of world’s trade and about 57% of GDP.
  • It was established in 1989 in order to leverage growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific region’s economies and promote free trade in the region.
  • Its headquarters are in Singapore.
  • 21 Members Economies: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russian and Vietnam.
  • India is observer of APEC since 2011 and has applied for membership

India - Philippines

PM Narendra Modi inaugurates rice field laboratory named after him in Philippines

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated rice field laboratory named after him International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos in Philippines during his three-day visit to attend ASEAN-India and East Asia summits.
  • India is setting up regional centre of IRRI in Varanasi to develop high-yielding rice varieties to increase farmers’ income by enhancing and supporting rice productivity, reducing cost of production, value addition, diversification and enhancement of farmers’ skills.

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

  • IRRI is international agricultural research and training organization known for its work in developing rice varieties that contributed to Green Revolution in 1960s.
  • It was established in 1960 and has offices in 17 countries.
  • It aims to reduce poverty and hunger, improve health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability of rice farming.
  • IRRI is one of 15 agricultural research centres in world that form CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research centres, a global partnership of organizations engaged in research on food security.
  • It is also the largest non-profit agricultural research centres in Asia. Large number of Indian scientists are working in IRRI.

Medical Research

Measles & Rubella Campaign

  • The India Expert Advisory Group on Measles & Rubella (IEAG-MR) has commended India on the progress of the measles and rubella vaccination campaign.
  • The expert member group concluded that ‘the country is on the right track’.
  • The group has advised for the MR vaccination campaign to cover the whole country by 2018.
  • Presently, 13 states have been covered by the vaccination campaign.

Enlighten about MR campaign:

  • The MR campaign targets around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign.
  • Under the campaign, children will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status.
  • MR vaccine will be provided free- of- cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites.
  • Target group: All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years will be covered.

About Measles and Rubella

  • Measles is a deadly disease and one of the important causes of death in children.
  • It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person.
  • Measles can make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and brain infection. Globally, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 1, 34,200 children—mostly under-5 years.
  • In India, it killed an estimated 49,200 children.
  • Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which is a cause of public health concern.
  • CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general.

Science & Technology

Cobots

  • Small, collaborative robots, or cobots, are gaining currency across the world, as also in India.
  • Several firms, be it Bajaj Auto or Aurolab, have benefited from the adoption of cobots and are planning to add more to their shop floors.

Enlighten about cobot?

  • A cobot is intended to work hand-in-hand with humans in a shared workspace.
  • This is in contrast with full-fledged robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance.
  • They support and relieve the human operator of his excess work.

Plugin

  • The Santa Clara, California-based company, which reported revenue of $59.4 billion in 2016, said it was addressing challenges faced by hardware firms in areas such as product development and commercialisation.
  • One such initiative is Plugin, a collaborative, incubation programme between Intel India, Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) at IIT-Bombay and Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.