Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - November 25, 2017

International Day

25 November: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

  • The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW) is observed every year across the world on 25 November.
  • Observance of this day seeks to raise awareness about violence against women and girls, end violence against women.
  • It also seeks to show that prevention is possible against violence of women.
  • The theme for the year 2017 is ‘Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls.’
  • The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was instituted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by adopting resolution 54/134 passed in December 1999.
  • This day is commemorated in memory of Mirabal sisters who were three political activists from Dominican Republic.
  • They were brutally assassinated during the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship (1930-1961) in 1960.

Government Agreements

A&N Islands, Dadar & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu – signed MoU under UDAY Scheme

  • Government has signed four MoUs under Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) Scheme with Nagaland and UTs of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli & Daman & Diu for operational improvements.
  • With this, 27 States and 4 UTs have joined UDAY till date.
  • These State/UTs have joined only for operational improvement and shall not undergo financial restructuring and issue of bonds under the scheme.
  • These MoUs will pave way for improving operational efficiency of Electricity Departments or DISCOM of these State/UTs.

Enlighten about Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY)

  • UDAY Scheme was launched by Union Power Ministry for financial turnaround and revival package for state electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs).
  • It aimed to help to make discoms financially and operationally healthy so they can supply adequate power at affordable rates.
  • The scheme is optional for the states to join. Under it, state governments were to take over up to 75% of their respective discoms’ debt by issuing sovereign bonds to pay back the lenders.
  • Remaining 25% of debt will be issued by discoms in the form of bonds.

Contemporary Issues

Three Phased solution proposed by China on Rohingya crisis

  • China has announced that Bangladesh and Myanmar have accepted its mediatory role and agreed to implement three-phased solution proposed by its Foreign Minister Wang Yi to resolve Rohingya refugee crisis.

Three- stage solution

First stage:

  • Myanmar should impose ceasefire and stop persecuted Rohingyas from fleeing into Bangladesh.

Second stage:

  • Bangladesh and Myanmar should strengthen exchanges and find solution on basis of equality.

Third stage:

  • International community to help develop the backward Rakhine state and poverty alleviation of Rohingyas in Myanmar.

Rohingya Crisis

  • The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority group residing in the Rakhine state (in the south western Myanmar), formerly known as Arakan and are considered to be a variation of the Sunni religion.
  • The 1982 Citizenship Law denies the Rohingya Muslims citizenship despite the people living there for generations. They are considered “stateless entities”.
  • They are regarded as mere refugees from Bangladesh, face strong hostility in the country.
  • United Nations classifies them as one of the most persecuted refugee groups in the world.
  • To escape the dire situation in Myanmar, the Rohingya try to illegally enter Southeast Asian stateThe dominant group, the Rakhine, rejects the label “Rohingya” and has started to persecute the Rohingya.
  • The latest surge follows attacks on police posts by an extremist Rohingya group, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army(ARSA).
  • People from all over the world started calling this crisis and bloodshed “campaign of ethnic cleansing.”

International Court Of Justice

Dalveer Bhandari – re-elected to ICJ

  • India’s nominee to International Court of Justice (ICJ) Dalveer Bhandari (70) was re-elected to fifth and the last seat of world court.
  • Bhandari received 183-193 votes in United Nations General Assembly and secured all 15 votes in UN Security Council (UNSC).
  • He was elected after Britain withdrew its candidate from the election.
  • This is the first time since the ICJ was established in 1945 that there will be no British judge in ICJ. Bhandari is fourth Indian judge to be elected to ICJ after B.N. Rau, Nagendra Singh and RS Pathak.

Enlighten about International Court of Justice (ICJ)

  • ICJ is principal judicial body of UN.
  • It was established in 1945 via UN Charter and its jurisdiction is worldwide. It is located in “The Hague” in Netherlands and has 193 state parties.
  • Current President is Ronny Abraham.
  • The major functions of ICJ are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies, and UN General Assembly.
  • ICJ is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by UNGA and UN Security Council.
  • These organs vote simultaneously but separately. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive absolute majority of votes in both bodies.
  • In order to ensure measure of continuity, one third of ICJ is elected every three years.
  • Judges are eligible for re-election. President and Vice-President are also elected by the court, but for three-year periods

Candidate nomination –

  • Every state government, party to the Charter, designates a group who propose candidates for the office of ICJ judges.
  • This group includes four members/jurists of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (machinery which enables arbitral tribunals to be set up as desired and facilitates their work) also picked by the State.
  • Countries not part of the statute follow the same procedure where a group nominates the candidates.
  • Each group is limited to nominate four candidates, two of whom could be of their nationality.
  • Within a fixed duration set by the Secretary-General, the names of the candidates have to be sent to him/her.

Qualifications of ICJ judges –

  • A judge should have a high moral character.
  • A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or
  • A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized compCLce in international law.

The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions:

  • Three from Africa.
  • Two from Latin America and Caribbean.
  • Three from Asia.
  • Five from Western Europe and other states.
  • Two from Eastern Europe.

Independence of the Judges:

  • Once elected, a Member of the Court is a delegate neither of the government of his own country nor of that of any other State.
  • Unlike most other organs of international organizations, the Court is not composed of representatives of governments.
  • Members of the Court are independent judges whose first task, before taking up their duties, is to make a solemn declaration in open court that they will exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously.
  • In order to guarantee his or her independence, no Member of the Court can be dismissed unless, in the unanimous opinion of the other Members, he/she no longer fulfils the required conditions. This has in fact never happened.

Infrastructure Development

Infrastructure status granted to Logistic sector

  • The Union Finance Ministry has granted Infrastructure Status to Logistics sector. Logistics Infrastructure was included by insertion of new item in renamed category of ‘Transport and Logistics’.
  • The inclusion of “Logistics Sector” in the Harmonized Master List of Infrastructure Sub-sectors was considered in the 14th Institutional Mechanism (IM) Meeting chaired by Finance Minister.
  • The proposal was mooted by the Commerce Ministry and was approved by finance ministry.

Enlighten about Logistics Infrastructure

  • Multi-modal Logistics Park comprising Inland Container Depot (ICD): Minimum investment of Rs. 50 crore and minimum area of 10 acre.
  • Cold Chain Facility: Minimum investment of Rs.15 crore and minimum area of 20,000 sq. ft.
  • Warehousing Facility: Minimum investment of Rs. 25 crore and minimum area of 1 lakh sq ft.

Significance

  • Coming under infrastructure category will help logistics sector to get credit at competitive rates and on long-term basis with enhanced limits.
  • It will also give access to larger amounts of funds as external commercial borrowings (ECB), longer tenor funds from insurance companies and pension funds.
  • Besides, logistics sector will be also eligible to borrow from India Infrastructure Financing Company (IIFC).
  • It can also put logistics sector on steady growth path and its benefits could spill over to other sectors such as food processing that use logistics services in a big way.

Defence

IMBAX 2017

  • Between – India & Myanmar
  • Edition – 1st
  • Where – Meghalaya
  • The first India-Myanmar Bilateral Military Exercise 2017 (IMBAX 2017) was held at Joint Warfare Centre at the Umroi Joint Training Node in Meghalaya.
  • It is first of its kind military training exercise between India and Myanmar on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO).
  • It was conducted by Army’s RED HORNS DIVISION under aegis of GAJRAJ CORPS.

Enlighten about it –

  • The six-day training exercise aimed at building and promoting closer relations with armies of the neighbouring countries.
  • It also aims to train officers of Myanmar Army in various United Nations Peacekeeping roles and tasks.
  • Its focus was on training the Myanmar army delegation on tactics, expertise, procedures and methodology required by contingent of member nations for serving in UNPKO.
  • The exercise includes participation of 15 officers from Myanmar army and 16 officers from Indian army.

Space Developments

Supersonic Landing Parachute

  • For – Mars Mission 2020
  • By – NASA
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully tested supersonic landing parachute that will be deployed in its Mars rover mission set to launch in 2020.
  • The mission will rely on special parachute to slow spacecraft down as it enters Martian atmosphere at over 5.4 kilometres per second.
  • It was first of several tests in support of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.

Enlighten about ASPIRE

  • The Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE), mission’s parachute-testing series was launched on 17.7-metre-tall Black Brant IX sounding rocket for evaluation of ASPIRE payload performance.
  • The payload was bullet-nosed, cylindrical structure holding supersonic parachute along with parachute’s deployment mechanism, and test’s high-definition instrumentation including cameras to record data.
  • This payload was carried as high as about 51 km and was successfully deployed from altitude of 42 km and at velocity of 1.8 times speed of sound.
  • Thirty-five minutes after launch, ASPIRE splashed down in Atlantic Ocean about 54 km southeast of Wallops Island.
  • The next ASPIRE test is planned for February 2018. The Mars 2020 team will use data from these tests to finalize design for its mission.

Mars 2020 mission

  • NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will seek signs of ancient Martian life by deploying rover for investigating evidence in place and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for potential future return to Earth.
  • It will carry out search by conducting drills for core samples that may contain proof of microbial life from the past.
  • The rover will also examine different methods to create oxygen from Mar’s atmosphere.

Rankings

IMD Talent Rankings

India’s ranked – 51

  • India ranked 51st among 63 countries on the IMD Talent Rankings in terms of ability to attract, develop and retain talent. In previous rankings, India was ranked 54th.
  • The annual IMD World Talent Ranking covers 63 countries and assessed methods countries adopted to attract and retain talent.
  • The rankings of countries are based on their performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal, and readiness.

Highlights of IMD Talent Rankings

  • Switzerland topped list followed by Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Sweden and Luxembourg in top 10.
  • Globally, Europe continues to dominate rankings being most competitive countries.
  • Leading Asian economies in rankings are Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
  • They have cemented their global status as hubs of attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers though they trail Europe in this regard.
  • Among BRICS bloc, China was in lead with ranking of 40, followed by Russia (43) and South Africa (48). Brazil was ranked 52nd just after India

India Related Facts

  • India was ranked 62nd (on investment and development), 43rd (appeal) and 29th (readiness) in three main categories.
  • India is not doing good job at retaining local talent and attracting foreign labour.
  • On both fronts, remuneration levels, quality of life, security and property rights are deterrent to domestic employment
  • Furthermore, relative to other economies, investment in education is still weak.
  • India ranks among the bottom five countries on list in terms of investment in education as percentage of GDP.
  • India needs to emphasise education system as key to prosperity. It also needs to prevent brain drain by providing better opportunities to local talent.

Environment

M-STRiPES

  • In the forthcoming All-India Tiger Estimation, to be taken up in December-January, the authorities are planning to use an app named M-STRiPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) developed by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
  • Though the app has already been in place in some national parks, its usage and application has been made mandatory only now, for the fourth All-India Tiger Estimation.

Significance of this move:

  • All these years, data pertaining to carnivore signs, pellets and status of habitat was manually recorded in the prescribed format on a paper by the field staff, but this exercise was prone to errors. With the availability of M-STRiPES, human error will be eliminated.

Tiger estimates:

  • The national tiger estimates are conducted once in four years, with the first conducted in 2006.
  • That exercise pegged the tiger count at 1,411, with the statistical lower limit pegged at 1,165 and the upper limit, 1,657. In 2010, the count changed to 1,706, with 1,520 being the lower limit and 1,909 the upper limit.
  • The Western Ghat landscape, comprising Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa, accounted for 776 tigers in 2014, with the Bandipur-Nagarahole-Mudumalai-Wayanad complex harbouring 570 tigers — reckoned to be the world’s single largest tiger population in a landscape.
  • The last nationwide assessment, held in 2014, pegged the tiger figures across the country at 2,226. Karnataka alone was home to 400 tigers, a bulk of them in Bandipur and Nagarahole.

Govt. Schemes

Pragati

  • The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, recently chaired the twenty-third interaction through PRAGATI – the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation.
  • The first twenty-two meetings of PRAGATI have seen a cumulative review of 200 projects with a total investment of Rs. 9.31 lakh crore.

Enlightan about PRAGATI:

  • PRAGATI is a unique integrating and interactive platform.
  • The platform is aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
  • The PRAGATI platform uniquely bundles three latest technologies: Digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology.
  • It also offers a unique combination in the direction of cooperative federalism since it brings on one stage the Secretaries of Government of India and the Chief Secretaries of the States.
  • With this, the Prime Minister is able to discuss the issues with the concerned Central and State officials with full information and latest visuals of the ground level situation. It is also an innovative project in e-governance and good governance.
  • It is a three-tier system (PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries of the States).
  • Issues to be flagged before the PM are picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, on-going Programmes and pending Projects.
  • The system will ride on, strengthen and re-engineer the data bases of the CPGRAMS for grievances, Project Monitoring Group (PMG) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  • PRAGATI provides an interface and platform for all these three aspects.
  • It will also take into consideration various correspondences to PM’s office by the common people or from high dignitaries of States and/or developers of public projects.
  • It is also a robust system for bringing e-transparency and e-accountability with real-time presence and exchange among the key stakeholders.
  • The system has been designed in-house by the PMO team with the help of National Informatics Center (NIC).

2018 as International Year of Millets

  • India has sent a proposal to United Nations for declaring the year 2018 as ‘International Year of Millets’.
  • The proposal, if agreed, will raise awareness about millets among consumers, policy makers, industry and R&D sector.

Significance of this move:

  • Promotion of production and consumption of millets through conscious efforts at global level is likely to contribute substantially in the fight against targeted hunger and mitigate the effect of climate change in long run.
  • Popularizing millets would benefit future generations of farmers as well as consumers.

What are Millets

  • Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals, and includes sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.

Benefits of Millets

  • An important staple cereal crop for millions of small holder dryland farmers across sub-saharan Africa and Asia, millets offer nutrition, resilience, income and livelihood for farmers even in difficult times.
  • They have multiple untapped uses such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels and brewing. Therefore, millets are Smart Food as they are Good for You, Good for the Farmer and Good for the Planet.
  • Nutritionally superior to wheat & rice owing to their higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber & minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous, millets can provide nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.
  • The anaemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency, pellagra (niacin deficiency) can be effectively tackled with intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich food grains like millets.
  • Millets can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten free, have a low glycemic index and are high in dietary fibre and antioxidants.
  • Adapted to low or no purchased inputs and to harsh environment of the semi-arid tropics, they are the backbone for dry land agriculture.