Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - October 14, 2017

Defence/Health Sector

Launch of Mobile Health App `MedWatch' By the Indian Air Force

  • On the occasion of its 85th anniversary, the Indian Air Force has launched an innovative mobile health App named `MedWatch'
  • ‘MedWatch’, available on the IAF's AFCEL network, comprises a host of features that will provide authentic health information to all IAF personnel.
  • A Reminder Tool to enable timely immunization for the children of all Air Warriors is an important component of the App.
  • This will directly enable 'Mission Indradhanush' of the Govt of India.
  • ‘MedWatch’, the first mobile health app in the three Armed Services, was launched by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa

Defence

INS Satpura, Kadmatt participates in Passage Exercise in Japan

  • Indian Naval Ships Satpura and Kadmatt participated in Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Japanese Marine Self Defence Force (JMSDF) held at Sasebo, Japan.
  • These ships are participating in the exercise in pursuance of India’s Act East Policy and demonstration of India’ commitment to peace and stability in Indo-Pacific Region.
  • The visiting Indian Naval ships engaged with JMSDF in formal calls and also professional, social and sporting interactions.

Enlighten about the exercise

  • Naval ties between India and Japan have reached new heights with bilateral and multilateral exercises since first ‘Navy to Navy Staff Talks’ between two nations in November 2008.
  • Since then, naval ties have enhanced to cooperation in information sharing, meteorology and oceanography, disaster management and military training.
  • The defence and security interaction also expanded to encompass Defence Policy Dialogue and a Maritime Affairs Dialogue.
  • Regular bilateral and multilateral maritime exercises are foundation for strong naval relations between both countries.
  • The erstwhile Japan–India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) led to Japan participating in ‘MALABAR’ exercise (a tripartite naval exercise between India, US and Japan) since 2014.

Mitra Shakti 2017: India-Sri Lanka Joint Military Exercise held in Pune

  • The 5th India-Sri Lanka joint training exercise “Mitra Shakti 2017” was held Aundh Military Station in Pune, Maharshtra.
  • The two weeks exercise (October 13 and 25) is based on Counter Terrorist Operations (CTO) and Infantry company from both countries are participating in it.

Mitra Shakti 2017

  • The aim of joint training is to exchange best of military practices of two countries and build strong military-to-military (M2M) relation between two armies.
  • It also aims at developing joint strategies by sharing the expertise of conducting operations, especially in counter-insurgency and counter terrorism (CI and CT) environment under UN mandate.
  • The training module of exercise will include weapons training, basic military tactics and complex battle strategies.

Enlighten about Mitra- Shakti

  • The Mitra Shakti series of exercise between India and Sri Lanka had started in 2012, mainly as a response to China’s efforts to increase its influence in South Asia and Indian Ocean region.
  • The armies of India and Sri Lanka also serve together in the United Nations Peacekeeping missions.
  • The fourth edition of exercise was held at Sinha Regimental Centre in Ambepussa, Sri Lanka, in 2016 with main focus to enhance inter-operability in CI and CT operations under the UN mandate.

International Day

October 13: International Day for Disaster Reduction

  • The International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) is observed every year on October 13 to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.
  • The observance of day seeks to encourage citizens and governments to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations.
  • The 2017 theme is “Home Safe Home: Reducing Exposure, Reducing Displacement”.
  • The International Day for Disaster Reduction was instituted by UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 1989 to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.
  • Earlier, this day was celebrated annually on the second Wednesday of October.
  • But in 2009, the UNGA formally designated 13 October as the annual date by adopting Resolution 64/200.

Medical Sector

Two Experimental Ebola vaccines found safe, effective in human trial

  • The clinical trials of two experimental Ebola vaccines cAd3-EBOZ and rVSV-ZEBOV were found to be safe and capable of eliciting immune response against Ebola virus that lasts for at least one year.

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

  • EVD is viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebola viruses.
  • It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in human population through human-to-human transmission. Fruit bats are natural host of this virus.
  • It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva.
  • It also spreads through sexual transmission.
  • Symptoms of EVD are high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%.
  • However, in past outbreaks case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90%. In 2014, Ebola virus had erupted periodically mainly across west and east Africa mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • It was the deadliest outbreak of the virus in the history which had killed 11,000 people.

Waterways

IWAI raises Rs. 660 crore through Bonds

  • The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has raised Rs. 660 crore as Fully Serviced Bonds.
  • The oversubscribed bonds were issued through e-bidding on BSE Portal and the entire amount of Rs.660 crore was raised in single tranche at a coupon rate of 7.47%
  • The proceeds from these bonds will be utilized by IWAI exclusively for capital expenditure for development of National Waterways (NWs) under National Waterway Act, 2016 during 2017-18.
  • The principal and interest on these bonds will be financed by budgetary provisions in demand for grants of Ministry of shipping.
  • The interest payment will be on semi-annual basis and the principal on maturity.
  • Both CRISIL and CARE rated proposed bonds of IWAI as “AAA: STABLE”.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)

  • IWAI is the statutory body in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP.
  • Its main function is to build the necessary infrastructure in the inland waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also carrying out administration and regulation

Government Schemes

Government launches Sampoorna Bima Gram Yojana

  • The Union Government has launched Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana and expanded coverage of Postal Life Insurance (PLI) in a bid to provide affordable life insurance services to people particularly those living in rural areas.
  • With expnasion, PLI will now cover professionals also apart from government employees.

Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana

  • Under SBG Yojana, at least one village (having a minimum of 100 households) will be identified in each of revenue districts of country to cover all households of identified village with minimum of one RPLI (Rural Postal Life Insurance) policy each.
  • Coverage of all households in identified Sampoorna Bima Gram village is primary objective of this scheme.

Expansion of PLI

  • With expansion of PLI, benefits of PLI will no more be confined to government and semi-government employees only, but will also be available to professionals such as doctors, engineers, management consultants, chartered accountants, architects, lawyers, bankers etc. and to employees of listed companies of NSE (National Stock Exchange) and BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange).
  • It will enlarge cover of social security and bring maximum number of people under protection of PLI.

Postal Life Insurance (PLI)

  • PLI was introduced in 1884.
  • It is one of oldest life insurance schemes for benefit of government and semi-government employees.
  • It covers employees of Central and state governments, Central and state public sector undertakings (PSUs), universities, government-aided educational institutions, nationalized banks, local bodies, autonomous bodies, joint ventures having a minimum of 10% Government/PSU stakes societies etc.
  • It also extends facility of insurance to officers and staff of Defence services and para-military forces.
  • It also manages group insurance scheme for extra departmental employees (Gramin Dak Sevaks) of Department of Posts.

PLI offers 6 types of plans viz.

  • Whole Life Assurance (SURAKSHA), Convertible Whole Life Assurance (SUVIDHA), Endowment Assurance (SANTOSH), Anticipated Endowment Assurance (SUMANGAL), Joint Life Assurance (YUGAL SURAKSHA) and Children Policy (BAL JEEVAN BIMA).
  • In all policies age limit is 19 to 55 years. Low premium and high bonus is unique feature of PLI scheme.

Disaster Management : Report

Calamities displace 23 lakh every year in India

  • According to the study, ‘A Global Disaster Displacement Risk Model’, conducted by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre of the Norwegian Refugee Council and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), calamities displace 23 lakh people every year in India.

Enlighten about the report –

  • India ranks the highest among the world’s most disaster-prone countries for displacement of residents, with 23 lakh, on average, uprooted due to calamities such as floods, cyclones and earthquakes.
  • Rise in homelessness will continue, according to the report.
  • The report however notes that the estimation of displaced people in India may be on the lower side considering that, in the recent Bihar floods alone, about 1.75 crore were affected and 8.55 lakh evacuated.
  • Floods hit at least half a dozen other states this year.
  • Most of this displacement is being driven by flooding, which is on the increase in a warming world where population growth in hazard-prone parts of the globe has increased exposure.

Enlighten about UNISDR

  • The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), created in December 1999, is the successor to the secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. (HQ: Geneva)
  • It was established to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and its functions span the social, economic, environmental as well as humanitarian fields.
  • UNISDR supports the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on 18 March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.

Environment & Ecology

El Nino caused record CO2 spike in 2015-16: NASA

  • Scientists have found that the impact of the 2015-16 El Nino-related heat and drought occurring in tropical regions of South America, Africa and Indonesia was responsible for the largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration seen in at least 2,000 years.
  • The findings are based on analysis of the first 28 months of data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite.

Enlighten about the findings

  • In 2015 and 2016, OCO-2 recorded atmospheric carbon dioxide increases that were 50% larger than the average increase seen in recent years preceding these observations.
  • That increase was about three parts per million of carbon dioxide per year — or 6.3 gigatonnes of carbon.
  • In recent years, the average annual increase has been closer to two parts per million of carbon dioxide per year — or four gigatonnes of carbon.
  • These record increases occurred even though emissions from human activities in 2015-16 are estimated to have remained roughly the same as they were prior to the El Nino.
  • South America, Africa and Indonesia released 2.5 gigatonnes (a billion tonnes) more carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011.
  • In 2011, weather in the three tropical regions was normal and the amount of carbon absorbed and released by them was in balance.

Unesco

U.S., Israel quit UNESCO

  • The U.S. has announced its withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), accusing it of “continuing anti-Israel bias.”
  • As required by law, the U.S. has stopped funding UNESCO. The U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. Until then, it will remain a full member.

Why the US is withdrawing?

  • The US and UNESCO have actually been at loggerheads since 2011.
  • The key issue now, as with many US-UN disputes, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • In October 2011, UNESCO admitted the Palestinian territories to the organization as an independent member-state called Palestine.
  • This triggered a US law which cut off American funding for any organization that recognized an independent Palestine.
  • The US had previously paid for 22 percent ($80 million) of UNESCO’s annual budget.
  • Finally, in 2013, after the US missed several rounds of payments to UNESCO, the organization suspended US voting rights in its core decision-making bodies.
  • So the US hasn’t been a real UNESCO member for a while.

Enlighten about UNESCO

  • UNESCO is a United Nations organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide.
  • It is a special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France, that promotes sex education and literacy as well as improving gender equality in countries around the world.
  • It is also known for its work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient villages, ruins and temples, and historic sites such as the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq, which at one point came under threat of being destroyed by the Islamic State.

Judicial Reforms

Supreme Court frames guidelines for itself & 24 High Courts

  • It laid down guidelines for itself and 24 High Courts to govern the exercise of designating lawyers as seniors and ordered setting up of a permanent committee headed by the Chief Justice of India assisted by a secretariat.

The Permanent Committee

  • The permanent committee will comprise the Chief Justice of India and two seniormost companion judges, Attorney General of India and a representative from the bar nominated by the first four members.
  • For the HCs, it will have the Chief Justice of the respective HC and the Advocate General of the state in place of CJI and Attorney General.
  • The Committee will interview the candidate and make an overall evaluation on the basis of his/her number of years of practice, judgments (reported and unreported) which indicate the legal formulations advanced by the Advocate concerned in the course of the proceedings of the case, pro bono work done by him/her, domain expertise of the applicant in various branches of law and publications by the advocate.
  • After a name is considered and approved by the permanent committee, it will be put before the Full Court which will include SC/HC judges as the case may be and will further decide to accord senior designation to an advocate either unanimously or by majority, through secret ballot.
  • The Full Court may also recall the senior designation of a lawyer if it feels he is guilty of conduct that disentitles him to the same.

The Permanent Secretariat

  • The applications including proposals from the judges will be submitted to the permanent secretariat
  • It will compile the relevant data and information with regard to the reputation, conduct, integrity of the Advocate(s) concerned including his/her participation in pro bono work; reported judgments in which the concerned Advocate(s) had appeared; the number of such judgments for the last five years.
  • It will also publish the proposal of designation of a particular Advocate in the official website of the Court concerned inviting the suggestions and views of other stakeholders in the proposed designation.
  • The cases will then be put up before the Permanent Committee for scrutiny.

The Senior Advocate

Supreme Court rules say that the Chief Justice and the judges may with the consent of the advocate, designate an advocate as senior advocate if –

  • In their opinion by virtue of his ability; standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law distinction.
  • It was contended that this was not transparent.