Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 9th September-2020

 

1)Brexit Deal – Concerns:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to set in October 15 deadline for reaching a post Brexit UK-EU trade deal has raised fears.

  • The government is planning a legislation that would overwrite parts of withdrawal agreement the divorce deal signed between UK and EU last year
  • The Agreement has sought to avoid a hard border coming up between Northern Ireland which is part of UK and Irish republic and EU member
  • According to the Northern Ireland protocol signed alongside the agreement the region is expected to follow some EU rules in trade with Irish Republic
  • Mr. Johnson’s conservative party were critical of this clause claiming that it endangers the UK Sovereignty
  • Now the planned domestic legislation, the Internal Market and Finances Bill will allow U.K Courts to follow new U.K UK laws rather than the divorce agreement

Consequences of the new legislation:

  • Northern Ireland leaders have called it betrayal
  • The real risk of cutting the region off the EU customs code is that physical checks could emerge between two Irelands threatening the Good Friday agreement that brought peace

Though the UK formally excited the union, it continues to abide by the EU rules during the transition period, which Ends in December.

  • The challenge is to reach a trade deal in the absence of which WTO trade rules will kick in, starting January.
  • With weeks to go before the deadline there is still no consensus on issues such as workers right, environmental regulations, state aid to business and the Irish border.
  • While the EU wants the UK to adopt rules that are close to its own to ensure a “level playing field” in trade, the British government argues that the whole point of the EU divorce was to break free from common rules.
  • Regarding Northern Ireland, the hard Brexiteers are opposed to any special treatment to the region.
  • The new legislation suggest that the government is hardening its position on Ireland as well.
  • A no deal exit will inflict severe economic costs on the British, at a time when the economy is in dire straits due to covid-19.
  • Besides, it risks disrupting peace in the island of Ireland.
  • Mr. Johnson and his cabinet should ask themselves whether the no-deal risk is worth taking.
  • They should instead respect the withdrawal agreement, and be flexible in the talks as well as on deadlines.
  • Both side should focus on reaching a consensus on trade and other future relations, and not on ending the relationship at any cost.

 

2) NSO report on digital divide:

  • NSO highlights wide disparities in access to online classes
  • Of households in rural areas across most States leader neither had a computer nor an internet connection making it difficult for students to attend online classes
  • The survey on household social consumption related to education was part of NSO 75th round and the report was released
  • The report says cross India only one in ten households have a computer and almost a quarter of all homes have internet facilities
  • Internet enabled rooms are located in cities where 42% have internet access
  • In rural India however only 15% are connected to the internet
  • The national capital has highest internet access with 55%
  • Himachal Pradesh and Kerala are the only other states where more than half of all households have internet
  • The biggest divide is by economic status, the NSO by dividing the population into five equal groups based on their usual monthly per-capita expenditure

 

3) Health in India report:

  • Report by NSO – National statistical organization
  • Report says 2 out of 5 children do not complete their immunization program
  • Most of these children remain unprotected against Measles and and partial protected against a range of other diseases
  • The report is based on the 75th round of National Sample Survey on household social consumption related to health
  • Across the country only 59.2 % of children under 5 years are fully immunized
  • Full immunization means that a child receives a Cocktail of eight vaccine doses in first year of life
  • Among States Manipur, Andhra Pradesh and Mizoram recorded highest rates of full immunization
  • At the other end in Nagaland only 12% of children received all vaccines

 

4) National Blindness survey (2015-19):

Context: Vice-president Quoted the National Blindness survey (2015-19).

What does the Report say?

  • Prevalence of blindness has been reduced to 0.36% as compared to 1% in the 2006-07 National survey.
  • The WHO Global Action Plan for Universal Eye Health 2014-2019 targeted a reduction in the prevalence of visual impairment by 25% by 2019 from the baseline level of 2010.
  • India has successfully met the goals of ‘WHO Global Action Plan for Universal Eye Health 2014-2019’ which targeted a reduction in the prevalence of visual impairment by 25% by 2019 from the baseline level of 2010.
  • This is 47% decline and the findings of the current survey are for blindness as defined to be vision of less than 3/60 in the better eye.
  • The survey also revealed that in 66.2% cases the cause of blindness was untreated cataract. The survey found a higher prevalence of blindness in illiterates i.e. 3.23% in comparison to 0.43% among 10 pass and above.
  • Further the report noting a rural urban divide, said that blindness was more prevalent in rural population.

Definition of blindness:

  • India changed its four-decade-old definition of blindness in 2017, bringing it in line with the WHO criteria.
  • According to the new definition, a person who is unable to count fingers from a distance of three metres would be considered “blind” as against the earlier stipulation of six metres, which was adopted in 1976.

Causes of blindness:

  • Main cause of blindness is cataract which is responsible for about 66% of the total cases of blindness.
  • Corneal blindness is the second leading cause of blindness at 7.4% or about 3.3 lakhs cases.
  • There is a great need to address challenge of visual impairment in India with proper intervention and support.

How to address the problem:

  • Prevention and early treatment remain the more viable and cost-effective options to reduce the burden of corneal blindness in
  • Government has implemented a series of measures in its ongoing National Program for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment (NPCB&VI) to combat blindness and visual impairment.

National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment (NPCB&VI)

  • It was launched in the year 1976 as a 100% centrally sponsored scheme (now 60:40 in all states and 90:10 in NE States) by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • The goal of this programme was to reduce the prevalence of blindness to 0.3% by 2020.
  • NPCB aimed to provide for ‘Eye Health for All’ and prevention of visual impairment, through the provision of comprehensive universal eye-care services and quality service delivery.
  • National Eye Donation Fortnight’ organized by SAKSHAM (Samadrishti, Kshamata Vikas Evam Anusandhan Mandal), a charitable organization that works for the empowerment of the persons with disabilities.

SAKSHAM

  • SAKSHAM is working towards bringing persons with disabilities into the mainstream of society.
  • It is working to towards the integrated development of the disabled persons through various projects such as Cornea Andhatv Mukt Bharat Abhiyan (CAMBA), Pranada, Pranav and SAKSHAM Seva Sankul.
  • One of the objectives of this program is to enhance community awareness on eye care by encouraging the participation of Voluntary Organizations such as SAKSHAM and the Private Practitioners.
  • SAKSHAM also launched two software applications- Survey application and Camp application for better data management on persons with Visual Impairment, today.

National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment (NPCB&VI)

  • It was launched in the year 1976 as a 100% centrally sponsored scheme (now 60:40 in all states and 90:10 in NE States) by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • The goal of this programme was to reduce the prevalence of blindness to 0.3% by 2020.
  • NPCB aimed to provide for ‘Eye Health for All’ and prevention of visual impairment, through the provision of comprehensive universal eye-care services and quality service delivery.

 

5) National Bamboo Mission:

Context: Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar launches 22 bamboo clusters in 9 States; Logo for National Bamboo Mission also released

  • India moving towards increasing exports of bamboo products, support being given by National Bamboo Mission to local artisans will actualize goal for progress of local industries
  • The restructured National Bamboo Mission was launched in 2018-19 for holistic development of the complete value chain of the sector.
  • The Mission was launched as a natural corollary of the historic amendment of the Indian Forest Act in 2017, removing bamboo from the definition of trees, hence bamboo grown outside forests no longer need felling and transit permissions.
  • The Mission is being implemented in a hub (industry) and spoke model, with the main goal of connecting farmers to markets so as to enable farmer producers to get a ready market for the bamboo grown and to increase supply of appropriate raw material to domestic industry.
  • Bamboo ecosystem has been energized with 23 States being assisted, including all the 8 States of North East.
  • 10 most important species which are required by industry have been identified and quality planting material is being made available to farmers for plantations.

Advantages:

  • These will be engaged in raising nurseries and plantations and/or product development like furniture, agarbatti, venetian blinds, chopsticks, toothbrush, lifestyle products, jewellery, bottles, yoga mat, charcoal, etc.
  • Together with industrial products, the National Bamboo Mission also endeavors to upgrade skills of traditional bamboo craftsmen as per requirement of contemporary markets with tie up with enterprises and premier institutes so that our cultural heritage is continued.
  • The Sector Skill Councils established under National Skill Development Agency will also impart skills and Recognition of Prior Learning to traditional artisans. This will also encourage the youth to carry forward their family traditions.

Mission Logo:

  • The logo portrays a bamboo culm in the center of a circle composed of half an industrial wheel and half farmers, depicting the objectives of NBM appropriately.
  • The green and yellow color of the logo symbolize bamboo often termed as green gold.

 

6) Supply of DDT to Zambia for Malaria control programme:

Context: HIL has executed supplies of 20.6 MT to South Africa recently and in progress of supplies of 129 MT to Zimbabwe.

  • HIL (India) is the sole manufacturer of DDT globally.
  • The company was incorporated in the year 1954 to manufacture and supply DDT to Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family
  • Welfare for malaria control programme.
  • In the year 2019-20, the product was supplied to 20 States In the country. The Company is also exporting the product to many African countries.
  • Malaria continues to be one of the major public health problems globally.
  • WHO recommends DDT as one of the efficient IRS chemical to curb malaria mosquito menace and it is widely used by Southern African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique etc.
  • India is committed to manufacture and supply quality products at reasonable prices to the Southern African region, which will strengthen our bilateral relationship.

 

7) Delhi-Meerut RRTS Corridor:

Context: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $500 million loan, the first tranche of a total $1 billion facility, to build a modern, high-speed 82-kilometer Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) corridor that will improve regional connectivity and mobility in India’s national capital region (NCR).

  • The project will provide better connectivity to allow other towns in the NCR to develop as urban economic centers surrounded by residential areas while easing the concentration pressure on Delhi.
  • Development of this corridor will have a huge demonstration effect and pave the way for a paradigm shift in mobility and the pattern of urban development within the region.”
  • The project is expected to have a transformational impact on the development trajectory of the national capital region by introducing high-level technologies for RRTS, signaling, and station designs
  • Besides, the project will also support transit-oriented development (TOD) with systematic urban and land use planning around the RRTS corridor while promoting value capture financing (VCF) to generate additional municipal revenues.
  • With a design speed of 180 km per hour, corridor connecting Sarai Kale Khan in Delhi to Modipuram in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh is expected to reduce the journey time to about 1 hour from the present 3–4 hours.
  • The RRTS will have multimodal hubs to ensure smooth interchange with other transport modes.
    Other fundings by ADB:
  • A $3 million grant from ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will support various activities, including provision of visual, hearing and mobility aids, such as wheelchairs for differently abled persons.
  • Training for women and differently abled on safe mobility and employment opportunities and behavioral change for public transport providers will also be given.
  • The ADB-administered multi-donor Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund will provide $2.89 million to support innovations in building information modeling, universal access design features, TOD and VCF.

ADB:

  • ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.
  • Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.
  • ADB assists its members, and partners, by providing loans, technical assistance, grants, and equity investments to promote social and economic development.
  • The headquarters of the bank is in Philippines

 

8) Hunar Haat:

Context: After a gap of about 6 months due to the Corona pandemic, Hunar Haat will restart from 09th October 2020.

  • A crafts fair organized by the ministry of minority affairs that gives platform to local artisans
    Theme of “Local to Global” and focus on indigenous exquisite Indian toys.
  • The Indian toy industry has got tremendous boost after the call for “Vocal for Local Toys”.
  • Every corner of the country is endowed with diversity of indigenous toys made with wood, brass, bamboo, glass, cloth, paper, clay etc.

 

9) First World Solar Technology Summit:

World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS) organized by ISA and FICCI.

  • The main objective of WSTS is to showcase to member countries the state of the art and next-generation solar technologies
  • Prime Minister re-iterated that Five years ago, world leaders had taken a pledge to restrict the rise in global temperature through a gradual reduction in the dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Underlining India’s commitment lowering carbon footprints, stressed that India has lowest per-capita carbon emissions in the world but we have still pressed ahead with deployment of renewable energy at a frenetic pace.”
  • Renewables in India, India has enhanced its installed renewable capacity by 2.5 times and increased our solar installed capacity by more than 13 times.
  • “Globally India now ranks 4th in terms of Renewable power.
  • Our non-fossil fuel-based power generations to 134GW, which is about 35 % of our total power generation
  • Our government has implemented a scheme named KUSUM that aims to replace the use of diesel in our farm sector with solar energy. Under this scheme, we have targeted the solarisation of 2.8 million irrigation pumps. Such schemes will not only benefit the environment, but also increase the income of our farmers.
  • And current installed solar power capacity is 270 MW. “Additional 60 MW solar capacity will be added in the coming year.
  • We have taken up the mission of solarizing about 50% of fuel stations owned by Public Sector oil companies in the next five years.
  • More than 5000 fuel stations of Indian Oil, the largest Public Sector Oil Marketing Company, were solarized last year. A substantial amount of solar PV capacity was also added by Oil & Gas companies during the last few years.”
  • We have also set up a Project Preparation Facility to develop bankable Solar Energy projects in ISA member countries with the help of EXIM Bank of India.
  • He said that in 2018, our Government had announced about US $1.4 Billion worth of lines of credit (LOCs) for covering 27 solar projects across 15 countries. These projects are in various stages of implementation.
  • “The ISA is a part of “One Word One Sun One Grid” project, I firmly believe that this project can bring transformational benefits for the entire humanity.

The International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  • Is a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization.
  • ISA was jointly launched by India and France in the presence of Secretary General of the UN during CoP21.
  • The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its Member Countries.
  • The major objectives of the organization include deployment of 1000 GW of solar capacity and mobilization of US$ 1000 billion of investment in solar energy sector by 2030.
  • As an action-oriented organization, ISA intends to bring together member countries to aggregate demand and realize economies of scale, resulting in reduction of costs of solar applications, facilitating deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity.
  • As on June 26 2020, the ISA Framework Agreement has been signed by 86 countries, with 68 having also deposited instruments of ratification.
  • The ISA is headquartered at Gurugram in Haryana, India.

Five Petroleum and Gas sector PSUs will join International Solar Alliance, In order to reduce carbon footprint, these companies will be focusing more on green energy investments such as renewables, biofuels and hydrogen going forward.

Addressing First World Solar Technology Summit, Shri Pradhan says Indian Oil & Gas companies are increasingly and actively taking part in clean energy transition

National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE)

  • An autonomous center of excellence of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India, is engaged in Solar PV/Thermal R&D, Testing, Demonstration Projects, Skill Development, Consultancy, Innovation and Incubation etc.
  • The Institute is equipped with advance equipment to carry out testing and certification of different Solar PV/Thermal gadgets.

 

10) Real MANGO Software:

Context: RPF have been able to apprehend around 50 criminals so far involved in operation of this illegal software and block live tickets worth more than Rs. 5 Lakhs

What is Real Mango Software?

  • An illegal notorious software developed for booking Tatkal ticket over the IRCTC website.
  • This illegal and commonly banned software makes the complete process of Indian Rail ticket booking at a fly speed.

How does software works?

  • Real mango software bypasses V3 and V2 captcha.
  • It synchronizes bank OTP with help of a mobile app and feeds it to the requisite form automatically.
  • The software auto-fills the passenger details and payment details in the forms.
  • The software logs in to the IRCTC website through multiple IRCTC Ids.
  • The illegal software is sold through five tiered structure: System Admin & his team, Mavens, Super sellers, Sellers and Agents.
  • In most of the cases the software developer accepts the payment through Bitcoins only.

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