Daily Current Affairs: 23rd November 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.
Nomura’s Food Vulnerability Index (NFVI)
Context: Nomura Global Market Research has recently submitted a report which states that India is ranked 44 out of 110 countries in Nomura’s Food Vulnerability Index (NFVI).
What is this Index? Nomura is a financial services group headquartered in Asia with an integrated global network spanning over 30 countries. By connecting markets East & West, it basically service the needs of individuals, institutions, corporates and governments through its four business divisions i.e., (1) Retail, (2) Asset Management, (3) Wholesale (Global Markets and Investment Banking), and (4) Merchant Banking. Nomura’s Food Vulnerability Index (NFVI) ranks countries on the basis of their exposure to large periodic variations in food prices. It basically has three components: (1) Country’s GDP per person, (2) The share of food in household consumption (3) The net food imports. Typically, the lower the per capita GDP, higher is the share of food in household consumption and high net food imports would make a country more vulnerable to spikes in food prices. What are the key findings of the Index? The Emerging Market group largely comprises the 50 most vulnerable countries to food price surges in the coming months. These top 50 together account for almost 60% of the global population. India has been ranked 44 out of 110 countries; higher the rank, worse is the situation. At 4.6 per cent, India’s retail inflation for October touched a 16-month high because of the jump in food prices. Food inflation grew by almost 8% – which is almost twice the rate of overall retail inflation. The key items that contributed to this rise were pulses (inflation rate 12%) and vegetables (inflation rate 26%) and fish and meat (inflation rate 10%).
MK 45 GUN SYSTEM
Context: An approval for the sale of 13 MK 45 5 inch/62 caliber (MOD 4) naval guns and some other equipment worth $1 billion to India for use against warships, anti-aircraft and shore bombardment has been given by US State Department.
These items are planned to be manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments. Key Details The Indian government had requested the US to buy up to 13 MK 45 5 inch/62 caliber (MOD 4) naval guns and 3,500 D349 Projectile 5 inch/54 caliber (MOD 1) ammunition. This MK 45 gun is a fully automatic naval gun system which is installed on ships and that provides a Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) range of more than 20 nautical miles (36 km) along with improved propelling charge. The MK 45 is basically an upgraded version with a 62 caliber barrel, strengthened gun and mount subsystems, advanced control system enhancements, greater range and firepower, a reduced signature and low maintenance gun shield. Currently, this system of guns is in use by the US Navy on their fleet of Ticonderoga class cruisers and Arleigh Burke class destroyers. Some other countries that have been sold the MOD 4 naval guns include Japan, Australia and South Korea. There is also a possibility that US may also sell these guns to other allies including Britain and Canada.
Sections 5(1)(f) and 10(2) of The Citizenship Act, 1955
Context: The citizenship of Chennamaneni Ramesh, who is a TRS MLA from Vemulawada in north Telangana has been cancelled by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
What is the Issue? Chennamaneni Ramesh, who is a son of freedom fighter parents, has been a citizen of Germany in the past, and had acquired Indian citizenship in 2009. His citizenship has been cancelled by the MHA on the ground of “misrepresentation of facts at the time of applying for citizenship in 2008.” Even though he made multiple trips to Germany in last 1 year, he did not disclosed that he had not lived in India for 12 months before the date of the application for Indian citizenship. This was in violation of The Citizenship Act, 1955, and the Rules under it. Thus he obtained registration of citizenship under section 5(1)(f) by means of fraud, false representation and concealment of facts and his action attracts provisions of section 10(2) of the Act. Hence, these acts of him makes him liable to be deprived of his Indian citizenship. What does Sections 5(1)(f) and 10(2) of The Citizenship Act, 1955 says? These sections basically deal with grant of citizenship and the authority of the government to cancel the same. According to Section 5(1)(f): “The Central Government may register as a citizen of India any person if a person who, or either of his parents, was earlier citizen of independent India, and has been residing in India for 1 year immediately before making an application for registration.” According to Section 10(2): “The Central Government may deprive any such citizen of Indian citizenship, if it is satisfied that the registration or certificate of naturalisation was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact.” However, the law also provides for checks to ensure that citizenship is not cancelled arbitrarily. Thus, Section 10(3) of the Act says, “The Central Government shall not deprive a person of citizenship under this section unless it is satisfied that it is not conducive to the public good that person should continue to be a citizen of India.”
Context: A potential Diarrhea vaccine has been recently developed by the researchers from University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
About the Vaccine Basically, the Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) bacteria are the primary cause of diarrhea, which leads to substantial illness and death in children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). As for now, there is no ETEC vaccine available on the market for use in children in ETEC high-risk areas. Now, an oral ETEC vaccine candidate, named ETVAX, was developed at University of Gothenburg in collaboration with Scandinavian Biopharma, Stockholm. It basically consists of inactivated E. coli bacteria expressing high levels of protective antigens and the ETEC-based B subunit protein LCTBA. Further, this vaccine has been proved safe and effective in an early-stage clinical trial in Bangladesh against enterotoxigenic E. coli diarrhea in children from 6 months to 5 years of age. About Diarrhea Diarrhea is the condition of having at least 3 loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a couple of days and can result in dehydration due to loss of fluid. The most common cause is an infection of the intestines due to either a virus, bacteria, or parasite—a condition also known as gastroenteritis. There are basically 3 types of diarrhea, these are: (1) Short duration watery diarrhea (The short duration watery diarrhea may be due to cholera, although this is rare in the developed world), (2) Short duration bloody diarrhea, and (3) Persistent diarrhea (that lasts more than two weeks, which can be either watery or bloody). About 1.7 to 5 billion cases of diarrhea occur every year. It is a common disease in developing countries, where young children get diarrhea on average 3 times a year. Total deaths from diarrhea are estimated at 1.26 million in 2013—down from 2.58 million in 1990. In 2012, it was the second most common cause of deaths in children younger than 5 (0.76 million or 11%).
Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL)
Context: A three-member panel has been constituted by the RBI to advise the Administrator of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL) ahead of formally moving for resolution of the troubled mortgage lender under the insolvency law. What is the issue? RBI recently superseded DHFL’s board and placed the company under an administrator in the wake of governance issues and severe liquidity crisis which had led to a string of defaults. Now, RBI, in exercise of powers conferred under section 45 IE 5(a) of the RBI Act 1934, constituted a three-member Advisory Committee to assist the Administrator of DHFL in discharge of his duties. The members of the Advisory Committee are as follows:
- Rajiv Lall, Non-Executive Chairman, IDFC First Bank Ltd
- N S Kannan, Managing Director and CEO, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd
- NS Venkatesh, Chief Executive, Association of Mutual Funds in India
About Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is the bankruptcy law of India which seeks to consolidate the existing framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha in December 2015 and was passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in May 2016. Finally, the Code received the assent of the President of India on 28 May 2016. The bankruptcy code is a one stop solution for resolving insolvencies which previously was a long process that did not offer an economically viable arrangement. It aims to protect the interests of small investors and make the process of doing business less cumbersome. Key Features Insolvency Resolution: A separate insolvency resolution processes has been outlined by the code for individuals, companies and partnership firms.The process may be initiated by either the debtor or the creditors.
- A maximum time limit, for completion of the insolvency resolution process, has been set for corporates and individuals.
- For companies, the process will have to be completed in 180 days, which may be extended by 90 days, if a majority of the creditors agree.
- For start ups (other than partnership firms), small companies and other companies (with asset less than Rs. 1 crore), resolution process would be completed within 90 days of initiation of request which may be extended by 45 days.
Insolvency regulator: Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI)has been established by the Code to oversee the insolvency proceedings in the country and regulate the entities registered under it.
- The Board will have 10 members, including representatives from the Ministries of Finance and Law, and the Reserve Bank of India.
Insolvency professionals:The insolvency process will be managed by licensed professionals. These professionals will also control the assets of the debtor during the insolvency process. Bankruptcy and Insolvency Adjudicator: The Code also proposes two separate tribunals to oversee the process of insolvency resolution, for individuals and companies:
- National Company Law Tribunal for Companies and Limited Liability Partnership firms; and
- Debt Recovery Tribunal for individuals and partnerships.
Context: India has maintained its status as a non-member of the Europe-led Budapest Convention, even as it voted in favour of a Russian-led UN resolution to set up a separate convention.
About the Budapest Convention Also known as the Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe (CETS No.185) or the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or the Budapest Convention, it is the first international treaty that seeks to address cybercrime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations. The offences that are defined by the Convention include:
- Illegal access,
- Illegal interception,
- Misuse of devices,
- Computer-related fraud,
- Offences related to child pornography, and
- Offences related to copyright and neighbouring rights.
It was opened for signature in Budapest in 2001 and it entered into force in 2004. It was drawn up by the Council of Europe with the active participation of the Council of Europe’s observer states Canada, Japan, Philippines, South Africa and the United States. As of September 2019, 64 states have ratified the convention. Brazil and India have declined to adopt the Convention on the grounds that they did not participate in its drafting. Russia opposes the Convention, stating that adoption would violate Russian sovereignty. About the new Russian-led UN Convention The Russian proposal entitled “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes” was recently passed in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Third Committee 88-58, with 34 absentations. The proposal, which India voted in favour of, creates a committee to convene in August 2020 in New York to establish a new treaty through which nation-states can coordinate and share data to prevent cybercrime.
World Fisheries Day 2019
Context: A function had been organized by the Department of Fisheries in New Delhi to celebrate the World Fisheries Day 2019.
Theme 2019: “2022 Ka Hai Sapna Kisan Ki Aay Ho Dugna – Sankalp Se Siddhi”. Every year, the day is celebrated on November 21 throughout the fishing communities to highlight the importance of lives of water creatures to humans. It started in 1997 where “World Forum of Fish Harvesters & Fish Workers” met at New Delhi leading to formation of “World Fisheries Forum” with representatives from 18 countries and signed a declaration advocating sustainable fishing practices. On an estimate, the annual production of fisheries in India has reached up to 13 million metric tonnes and the Ministry is working on achieving target of 20 million metric tonne in the next 5 years. What are the challenges faced by the fisheries industry? Due to close proximity of living habitats across water bodies, it has led to severe ocean and coastal pollution from run-off and from domestic and industrial activities carried out near-by. It has led to depletion of fish stocks in immediate vicinity, requiring fishermen to fish farther and farther away from their traditional grounds. Besides, overfishing and mechanization has also resulted in a crisis. Fish sticks have depleted through ‘factory’ vessels, bottom trawling, and other means of unsustainable fishing methods. Recent, United Nations study had reported that more than two-thirds of world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested. It also reported that more than one third fisheries are in state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming. The World Fisheries Day helps to highlight these problems and moves towards finding solutions to increasingly inter-connected problems and in the longer term, to sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks.
K12 Education Transformation Framework
Context: Microsoft recently rolled out its K12 Education Transformation Framework more widely in India. Key Highlights of the Framework
- The Framework provides a holistic framework to facilitate a comprehensive digital transformation of schools.
- The framework is a flexible platform based on the latest research and input from hundreds of academics, experts, and policymakers.
- It comprises 4 pillars — leadership and policy, modern teaching and learning, intelligent environments and technology blueprint.
Education leaders in more than 50 countries have already adopted the Microsoft K-12 Education Transformation Framework to help plan their learning strategies in partnership with Microsoft.
Arundhati Swarna Yojana
Context: The launch of Arundhati Swarna Yojana has been launched by the Assam government. Under the scope of the scheme, the state government will offer 10 grams of gold as a gift to every adult bride who has completed at least 10th standard and has registered her marriage.
However, the government will not give the gold directly but Rs. 30,000 to purchase 10 gms of gold. Who all are eligible for the scheme? To be eligible for the Scheme, following conditions need to be fulfilled:
- The annual income of the bride’s family must be less than 5 lakh rupees to avail the scheme.
- Minimum age should be 18 years and 21 years for the bride and bridegroom respectively.
- The family has to register their marriage under the Special Marriage (Assam) Rules, 1954.
- Minimum education should be 10th standard. However, minimum educational qualification criteria have been relaxed for the tribes and workers of tea gardens.
- The eligible bride and bridegroom must apply for the scheme before the date of their wedding.
Context: Avian botulism is said to be the reason behind the deaths of 18,000 birds in and around Rajasthan’s Sambhar lake.
What is it? Avian Botulism is a strain of botulism that affects wild and captive bird populations, most notably waterfowl. This is a paralytic disease brought on by the Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNt) of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. What led to this situation at Sambhar? As per the report, climate was the cause of the avian botulism in Sambhar. Fluctuating Water levels: Fluctuated throughout the year. Due to a good monsoon this year, the water level reached the lake bed after a gap of 20 years. Favourable environment for bacteria: The good monsoon provided a favorable environment for the bacteria to spread. The bacteria needs anaerobic (absence of oxygen) conditions and does not grow in acidic conditions. Nutrient-rich substrate: The lake also provided a nutrient-rich substrate, like areas with large amounts of decaying plant or animal materials. The monsoon brought with it a large population of crustaceans (like shrimps, crabs, and prawns), invertebrates (snails) and plankton (like algae), which are capable of hosting the bacteria for a long period of time. What has happened now? There are basically two theories that explains the present scenario:
- The bacteria is also found in the gills and digestive tracts of healthy fish. It reproduces through spores and these spores remain dormant for years. They are resistant to temperature changes and drying. Under favourable conditions, the spores are activated. After the monsoon, when the water levels receded,there might have been an increase in salinity levels which could have led to the death of these living organisms. At this point in time, the spores could have been activated.
- ‘A bird-to-bird cycle’could also have led to the tragedy. In such an event, maggots feeding on dead birds can concentrate the toxin. Birds feeding on dead birds can get affected. This was observed in Sambhar too as researchers found only insectivorous and omnivorous birds affected and not herbivores.
About Sambar Lake The Sambhar Salt Lake is the India’s largest inland salt lake, which is located 80 km southwest of the city of Jaipur. Sambhar Salt Lake is India’s largest saline lake and is the source of most of Rajasthan’s salt production. It produces 196,000 tonnes of clean salt every year, which is around 9% of India’s salt production. Salt is produced by evaporation of brine and is mostly managed by government owned company – Sambhar Salts Ltd.(SSL), which is a joint venture of the Hindustan Salts Ltd. and the state government. SSL owns 3% of the eastern lake.