Daily Current Affairs: 29th October 2019: The Hindu+PIB
The following compilation has been made keeping in mind the need of the UPSC IAS exam. Each and every topic which has been included in this compilation is taken from very authentic and relevant source including The Hindu, The Indian Express, Business Standard, Press Information Bureau, etc.
As per the evolving pattern of the UPSC IAS prelims and mains exam each and every topic has been handpicked keeping in mind the syllabus of the exam.
Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
Context: The second round of the flagship urban development scheme of the Centre, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), is planned to be rolled out in 2020.
The first phase of the Smart Cities Mission that covers 100 cities would be 50% complete by December this year. About Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
- The scheme was launched by Narendra Modi in June 2015.
- Focus: To establish infrastructure that could ensure adequate robust sewage networks and water supply for urban transformation by implementing urban revival projects.
- The main purpose of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) is to:
- Ensure that every household has access to a tap with assured supply of water and a sewerage connection;
- Increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery and well maintained open spaces (e.g. parks);
- Reduce pollution by switching to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport (e.g. walking and cycling).
- Rajasthan was the first state in the country to submit State Annual Action Plan under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
- The scheme Housing for All by 2022 and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) were launched on the same day.
- The scheme is dependent with public–private partnership(PPP) model. If required, various other schemes like Swachh Bharat Mission, Housing for All 2022, along with the local state schemes like that related to water supply and sewerage and other infrastructure related schemes can be linked to AMRUT.
- 90 cities in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan have been allocated funds under the first phase of the mission.
- At each city level a City Mission Management Units (CMMUs) is proposed to be set up which will assist the Urban Local Body (ULB) in terms of staff and technology.
Air Quality Index (AQI)
Context: The air quality of Delhi has dipped to season’s worst from ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’ category on the Air Quality Index (AQI). What is AQI? An Air Quality Index (AQI) is a measuring tool which is used by government agencies in order to communicate to the public about the level of pollution in the air currently or about the possibility of the pollution in the near future. It is to be noted that public health risks increase as the AQI rises. A number of different countries have their own air quality indices, corresponding to different national air quality standards. Some of these are the Air Quality Health Index (Canada), the Air Pollution Index (Malaysia), and the Pollutant Standards Index (Singapore). In India, the National Air Quality Index (AQI) was launched in New Delhi on September 17, 2014, under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The Central Pollution Control Board along with other State Pollution Control Boards has been operating National Air Monitoring Program (NAMP) covering 240 cities of the country having more than 342 monitoring stations. How is the index measured? There are basically 6 AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe. The proposed AQI will consider 8 major pollutants namely, PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3 and Pb, for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed. A sub-index is calculated for each of these pollutants which is based on the measured ambient concentrations, corresponding standards and likely health impact. The worst sub-index reflects overall AQI. Further, most air contaminants do not have an associated AQI. Many countries monitor ground-level ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, and calculate air quality indices for these pollutants. The AQI values and corresponding ambient concentrations (health breakpoints) as well as associated likely health impacts for the identified eight pollutants are as follows:
Associated Health Impacts
May cause minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people.
Moderately polluted (101–200)
May cause breathing discomfort to people with lung disease such as asthma, and discomfort to people with heart disease, children and older adults.
May cause breathing discomfort to people on prolonged exposure, and discomfort to people with heart disease.
Very poor (301–400)
May cause respiratory illness to the people on prolonged exposure. Effect may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart diseases.
May cause respiratory impact even on healthy people, and serious health impacts on people with lung/heart disease. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity.
WHO Study on Unintended pregnancy
Context: Recently, a new study has been conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on unintended pregnancy. What is unintended pregnancy? Unintended pregnancies are those pregnancies that are mistimed, unplanned or unwanted at the time of conception. Globally, the unintended pregnancy rate is approximately 45% of all pregnancies. These pregnancies has been linked to numerous maternal and child poor health outcomes, regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy. Key Findings of the Study The study which has been conducted in 36 countries found that 2/3rd of sexually active women who wished to delay or limit childbearing stopped using contraception for the fear of side effects, health concerns and underestimation of the likelihood of conception. This led to one out of four pregnancies being unintended. It is of great concern that the unintended pregnancies remain an important public health issue. Globally, about 74 million women who lives in low and middle-income countries have unintended pregnancies annually which leads to 25 million unsafe abortions and 47,000 maternal deaths every year.
The study by WHO puts forward a warning related to the unwanted pregnancies which may lead to a wide range of health risks for the mother and child include malnutrition, illness, abuse and neglect, and even death. These unintended pregnancies according to the study, can further lead to cycles of high fertility, as well as lower educational and employment potential and poverty – the challenges which can span generations. According to the study, in India the abortion rate was 47 per 1,000 women aged 15-49 years. About 3·4 million abortions (22%) were obtained in health facilities, 11·5 million (73%) abortions were medication abortions done outside of health facilities, and 0·8 million (5%) abortions were done outside of health facilities using methods other than medication abortion. In all, the abortions accounted for 1/3rd of all pregnancies, and nearly half of the pregnancies were unintended. Further, as per the figures published by Lancet last year on the incidence of abortion and unintended pregnancy in India, approximately 15.6 million abortions occurred in India in 2015. Further, WHO has recommended that overcoming legal, policy, social, cultural and structural barriers will enable more people to benefit from effective contraceptive services.
“Ik Onkar” Symbol
Context: Marking the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji, Air India has depicted Sikh religious symbol ‘Ik Onkar’ on the tail of one of its aircraft, the Boeing 787.
What is so unique about this symbol? The “Ik Onkar” is the symbol that represents the unity of God in Sikhism, meaning God is One or One God. It is important in the sense that it is the central tenet of Sikh religious philosophy. It is the opening phrase of the Mul Mantar and the opening words of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Golden Temple, the crown jewel of Sikhism, is located in Amritsar and houses the holy book Guru Granth Sahib. It is consequently also part of the Sikh morning prayer, Japji Sahib. It is basically found in the Gurmukhi script and is found in all religious scriptures and places such as gurdwaras. It is a combination of two characters, the numeral “”੧”, Ikk (one)” and the first letter of the word “Onkar” (Constant taken to meaning God).
Context: Cyclone ‘Kyarr’ intensifies to become the first Super Cyclonic storm in Arabian Sea in last 12 years after Cyclone Gonu ravaged the Oman coast in 2007. Background “Kyarr” is the 9th super cyclone to have developed in the North Indian Ocean, after Super Cyclone Gonu in 2007 which made landfall in Oman with winds gusting upto 150km/hour, making it one of the strongest tropical cyclone on record to strike the Arabian Sea, killing over 50. It was also the strongest cyclone to have made a landfall in Oman.
Before Super Cyclone Gonu, Odisha was hit by a Super Cyclone in 1999 which caused catastrophic damage to the state and massive loss of life and property. It remains one of the most destructive cyclone to have hit the eastern coastal state of Odisha. What is a Super Cyclone? A rapidly-rotating storm system which is characterized by spiral arrangement of thunderstorms rains, a low-pressure centre, strong winds, is what is known as a super cyclone. They form over large bodies of warm water, deriving their energy from water evaporation from the surface of the ocean which recondenses into clouds and rain when moist air rises and cools to saturation. Tropical Cyclones are low pressure systems that form over warm tropical waters and have gale force winds (sustained winds of 63 km/h or greater and gusts in excess of 90 km/h) near the centre. What are the different categories of Tropical Cyclones? There are a number of different categories in which Tropical Cyclones can be grouped into. These include:
- Tropical Cyclone which generally has a speed of 125 km/h Gales.
- Tropical Cyclone has a speed of 125 – 164 km/h and is characterized with destructive winds.
- Severe Tropical Cyclone are very destructive winds with a speed of 165 – 224 km/h.
The UN’s Universal Postal Union (UPU)
Context: As part of its unilateral decision, Pakistan has stopped exchange of postal mails with India since August 27. Pakistan’s decision in this regard was supposed to be taken “without any prior notice” and “in direct contravention of international norms.” About UN’s Universal Postal Union (UPU) The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system. It frames rules for international mail exchange, and fixes rates for international postal services. It regulates nearly 6.40 lakh postal outlets worldwide. The UPU has in all 192 member-countries with its main headquarters at Bern, Switzerland. It was established by the Treaty of Bern and was joined by India on July 1, 1876 and by Pakistan on November 10, 1947. It basically has 4 key units namely, the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB). Under the UPU rules, whenever a country decides to suspend exchange with a country, it must notify the operator of the other country (In case of India its India Post) and, if possible, the duration for which services are being stopped. Further, the UPU’s International Bureau also has to be notified.
Operation Kayla Mueller / Barisha Raid
Context: On 27 October 2019, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself and 3 children by detonating a suicide vest during the Barisha raid conducted by the Delta Force, in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province, according to a statement by President Donald Trump. About Operation Kayla Mueller / Barisha raid The Barisha raid was a United States military operation in Barisha, Idlib Governorate, in northwestern Syria targeting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leadership, notably its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on October 26-27, 2019.
Operation Kayla Mueller was the official code name of the raid by the special forces after the American humanitarian worker who was held captive, tortured, and sexually abused by Baghdadi before her death in 2015. About Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (1971 – 2019) was the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant terrorist organisation. In 2014, the ISIS announced the establishment of a worldwide caliphate with Al-Baghdadi as its caliph, to be known as “Caliph Ibrahim”. He was designated by the United States Department of State as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Who is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist? Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) is a designation authorized under US Executive Order 13224. SDGTs are entities and individuals who the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) finds have committed or pose a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism, or who OFAC finds provide support, services, or assistance to, or otherwise associate with, terrorists and terrorist organizations designated under OFAC Counter Terrorism Sanctions programs, as well as such persons’ subsidiaries, front organizations, agents, or associates. They are designated under OFAC’s programs.
Technology to capture carbon dioxide
Context: Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have developed a new technology to capture carbon dioxide from a stream of air, virtually at any concentration level. About the Technology Unlike the most methods of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of gas required higher concentrations such as those found in the flue emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants, the new method could take out the gas even when it was present in very low concentrations. The device is a large, specialized battery with a stack of electrodes that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air passing over its surface as it was being charged up, and then released the gas as it was being discharged. Further, a chemical reaction takes place at the surface of each of a stack of electrodes as the battery charges. The electrodes are coated with a compound called ‘polyanthraquinone’ compounded with carbon nanotubes. These electrodes have a natural affinity for carbon dioxide and readily reacted with its molecules in the air-stream or feed gas. The device operates at room temperature and normal air pressure. How this technology is significant? The binary nature of the adsorbent’s affinity to carbon dioxide is the key advantage of this technology over other carbon capture or carbon absorbing technologies. Also, the new system is energy efficient as compared to existing methods – consistently using about 1 Giga Joule(GJ) of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured. In a way, this advance may pave the way for new strategies to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.
Context: Joint Exercise Shakti-2019 between India and France will be conducted from 31 October 2019 to 13 November 2019 at Foreign Training Node at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges, Rajasthan. The initiation of series of ‘Exercise SHAKTI’ between India and France commenced in year 2011.
It is basically a biennial exercise and is conducted alternately in India and France. As part of Exercise SHAKTI – 2019, a contingent of the Sikh Regiment of Sapta Shakti Command will represent Indian Army in this exercise. The French Army delegation will be represented by troops of 21st Marine Infantry Regiment of 6th Armoured Brigade. This joint exercise will focus on Counter Terrorism operations in backdrop of semi-desert terrain under United Nations Mandate. The training will focus primarily on high degree of physical fitness, sharing of drill at tactical level and learning of best practices from each other.