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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 6TH JANUARY 2020

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Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding
“K2-18b”
1. It is a potentially ‘habitable’ planet
2. It is the only planet orbiting a star outside
the Solar System that is known to have
both water and temperatures that can
support life.
3. It is eight times the mass of Jupiter.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1,2 and 3

Q.2. Consider the following statements regarding
eSIM technology
1. eSIM technology supports multiple
accounts and switching between them is
super easy.
2. It will make devices smaller.
3. It could be extremely helpful for wearable
devices.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding
uyghur community that was seen recently in
news
1. The Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking
Muslims from the Central Asian region
2. The largest population lives in China’s
autonomous Xinjiang region
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS: B,D,C

IRAQ US TENSION

NEWS: The Iraqi Parliament on Sunday called on the government to work to end all foreign troop presence in the country as the backlash grew against the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a U.S. strike in Baghdad.

A resolution passed by a special session of Parliament said the government should cancel its request for assistance from a U.S.-led coalition. Parliament resolutions, unlike laws, are non-binding. But this one is likely to be heeded: Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had earlier called on Parliament to end foreign troop presence as soon as possible.

Around 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, most of them in an advisory capacity. Many Iraqis, including opponents of Soleimani, have expressed anger at Washington for killing Soleimani and Muhandis on Iraqi soil and potentially dragging their country into another conflict.

ABOUT IRAQ

  1. Located in Western Asia
  2. Bordered by TURKEY to north, Iran to east, Kuwait to South East, Saudi Arabia to South, Jordan to South west and Syria to the west
  3. Capital: Baghdad
  4. Major rivers: Tigirs and Euphrates. Runs in Southern Iraq
  5. Region between the Tigris and Euphrates is historically known as Mesopotamia.

ISRO’S ASTRONAUT TRAINING HUB

NEWS:

India’s world-class facility for training astronauts will come up not in the space headquarters in Bengaluru, nor in any glitzy metropolis. It will be established in three years at Challakere, a shrubby, arid oilseeds town on the Bengaluru-Pune NH4 in Chitradurga district of Karnataka.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has proposed a ₹ 2,700-crore master plan to create top infrastructure that will house its young Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC).

The first set of four astronaut candidates for the first Gaganyaan mission of 2022 are to train in Russia. The amount sought for the HSFC is over and above the ₹10,000-crore approved budget of Gaganyaan. Pending its approval, the centre may take 2-3 years at the earliest to be set up, but would come up after the first Indian crewed flight.

GAGANYAAN MISSION

Announced on August 15, 2018 Gaganyaan the country’s first crewed mission is set to happen by 2022.

Rocketman Unnikrishanan Nair will helm the mission.

Gaganyaan Mission is slated to take place at a near earth distance of 400 km.

Human Space Flight Center at ISRO headquartersin Bengaluru will be the hub of ISRO’s manned mission.

 

ABOUT ISRO

  • ISRO was formed on 15 August 1969.
  • It superseded the Indian  National Committee for Space Research formed in 1962.
  • It is managed by Department of space which reports to the PM of India .
  • ISRO launched India’s first satellite Aryabhata on 19 April 1975 from Soviet Union.
  • Rohini was the first satellite to be launched on Indian launch vehicle.
  • Headquarter: Bengaluru
  • Chariman: K Sivan

NATIONAL HIGHWAY 19

NEWS:

For more than six months, sewage from Seekri village has been overflowing onto the service road and a stretch of the Delhi-Agra highway, causing a major nuisance to locals and motorists.

The authorities and the Panchayat, however, shift the blame on the matter. The flooded road hampers the movement of the vehicles, put the pedestrians to inconvenience, emanates foul smell, and also causes water-borne diseases and accidents on the National Highway.

ABOUT NH 19

National Highway 19 (NH 19) is a national highway in India. It was previously referred to as Delhi–Kolkata Road and is one of the busiest national highways in India.

It constitutes a major portion of the historical Grand Trunk Road.

It was earlier known as NH 2 (Old) before renumbering of all national highways by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in 2010.

DROSOPHILIA CONFERENCE

NEWS: Pune is set to host the fifth edition of the Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference (APDRC5), which is being organised in the country for the first time by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).

The last four editions of this conference took place in Taipei, Seoul, Beijing and Osaka.

It will bring together scientists from all over the world who use the fruit fly, Drosophila, as a model organism to address basic and applied questions.

“Drosophila is one of the most widely-used and preferred model organisms in biological research across the world for the last 100 years.

Several discoveries in biology have been made using this.

Its genome is entirely sequenced and there is enormous information available about its biochemistry, physiology and behaviour,” said professor (biology) Sutirth Dey of IISER.

BIBI KA MAQBARA

NEWS:

The marble domes of Bibi Ka Maqbara, the famous 17th century Mughal-era monument in the city, are set to get a new shine.

The domes and other marble parts of the mausoleum will undergo scientific conservation, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official said. The work is estimated to cost ₹45 lakh.

The structure, known as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’ because of its striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal, was commissioned by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1660 in the memory of his wife Dilras Banu Begum.

ABOUT BIBI KA MAQBARA

Bibi ka Maqbara or the Tomb of the Lady was built by Aurangzeb as a memorial for his wife Dilras Banu Begum. She was the chief wife of the emperor.

The structure of the tomb is same like that of Taj Mahal and so it is called Dakkhani Taj or the Taj of the Deccan. Aurangzeb did not build many monuments as he had no interest in architecture.

Aurangabad

Aurangabad was established by Malik Amber in 1610.

The city is popular for Ajanta caves, Ellora caves, Bibi ka Maqbara and other structures. The city got its name after it was captured by Aurangzeb. The original name of the city was Khadki and Malik Amber made it his capital.

 

KOTHI RAJ

NEWS:

Rock climber Jyothi Raj, often called ‘Kothi Raj’ for his amazing prowess of climbing rock faces, fort walls or tall buildings with his bare hands, is now set to scale new heights.

He plans to climb the rock face along Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfalls in Venezuela, in one go.

This will constitute the climax of his biopic Incredible Monkey Man, which will be released worldwide this year. The movie is produced and directed by the Sydney-based Stanley Joseph, who is a native of Bengaluru.

The shooting for Incredible Monkey Man will take place in Chitradurga, Shivamogga, Bengaluru, and Venezuela.

FIRST EDITORIAL: INDIAN SCIENCE CONGRESS

107th edition of the Indian Science Congress (ISC) is under way in Bengaluru.

Indian Science Congress (ISC) has served as a reminder of the status accorded to science and technology in the early years of the Indian republic.

Though the formation of the congress pre-dates the Indian republic, it was the intellectual nursery of modern science in the country.

WHAT PURPOSE SCIENCE CONGRESS IS SERVING?

The years since have seen the nature of the congress change: from one where scientists, in the era of postal communication, congregated to exchange scientific ideas to one today where it has become a ‘science mela’. The prime purpose of the ISC now is to draw school and science college students to hear Nobel Laureates and Indian-origin scientists from abroad to lecture about their work and the future prospects of science.

The other draws are science projects and innovations by schoolchildren and stalls showcasing scientific work being done in key national laboratories and institutions.

PROBLEMS IN THE RECENT YEARS

In recent years, the congress often makes news for becoming a forum for pseudoscience and less for interesting scientific ideas or demonstrations. Speakers — some holding distinguished positions in leading universities — have tended to mix mythology and science and publicise far-fetched assertions: that the Kauravas were born from stem-cell technology and the Vedas discussed avionics. While this has eroded the congress’s public image, the government itself does not seem too keen to vitalise it.

The exhibits at several scientific laboratories are re-runs from old congresses, or from similar and past science fairs.

Many laboratories showcase their work as ‘posters’ rather than actually showing demonstrations or working inventions.

CONCLUSION

A rising trend in science displays, at museums or exhibitions in many places, is to mix science and art as well as make interactive displays that encourage audience engagement. A rebirth, and not a creeping requiem, is what the congress needs.

 

LEAD ARTICLE: HOW CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT IS IMPACTING INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY

India today is embarrassingly at the centre of attention for bad behaviour. While the present government’s decisions on Jammu and Kashmir put the spotlight on New Delhi, the recently legislated Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or CAA, 2019 pushed it over the edge.

Not only has the Act deeply divided a communally sensitive country, its effect is bound to have long-term implications for India’s foreign policy. India’s global standing is ever more vulnerable today, and the chinks in India’s diplomatic armour have never been so evident.

ESSENCE OF THE CAA

CAA is neither about refugees nor about illegal immigrants, as the government would like to claim; it is about the Muslims in India. If you are an Indian Muslim with incontrovertible domicile documents, it is a message for you. If you do not have the requisite documents and you are Muslim, this is where you should be scared about your future.

Let us be clear: If the objective is to provide refuge to the persecuted, what we need is a proper refugee law with legally sound standard operating procedures on a par with global standards, and without discrimination.

If it is about illegal immigration, the assumption — when one reads the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) together — that only Muslims can be illegal immigrants is a deeply problematic one.

IMPACT ON REGION

CAA would undermine India’s relations with two of its best friends in the region, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, at a time when it does not have many friends in the neighbourhood.

The political bosses of the Indian government decided to sacrifice the country’s crucial foreign policy interests at the altar of domestic political contingencies.

This becomes a diplomatic double whammy given how India is already losing its traditional heft and influence in the region and at a time a China-led balance of power is emerging in the region.

That from a foreign policy point of view the CAA is short-sighted is obvious, and that it will adversely affect India’s regional influence and standing is an unavoidable outcome; what is shocking is that the political leadership does not seem bothered by it. That is what should worry us.

SACRIFICE OF GOODWILL OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

From Kashmir to the NRC to the CAA — one reckless action after another — New Delhi seems to have finally exhausted the goodwill of the international community.

In December, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the CAA “fundamentally discriminatory” — something unheard of in recent memory.

Again in December, the United States, arguably India’s best friend today, urged the country to “protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with India’s Constitution and democratic values”.

The same month too, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) referred to CAA as not only “highly discriminatory and arbitrary” but also contrary to New Delhi’s “obligations under international human rights laws”.

CONCLUSION

Today there is no mention of rising India, no one talks about India becoming  part of the UNSC? Our sheen has come off and the world is beginning to see the ugly realities within.

Moreover, thanks to the heavy political fire-fighting that it needs to do on a daily basis on issues such as Kashmir, the NRC, and the CAA, much of New Delhi’s diplomatic capital is spent on doing precisely that. Its focus on crucial regional and global issues seems to be waning fast. With little talk of renegotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, no appetite to be part of the Afghan peace process, and disinterest in the Indian Ocean’s geopolitics, among others, the regime in New Delhi resembles a provincial capital today.

SECOND ARTICLE: HOW INDIA CAN USE THE RIVALRY BETWEEN US AND CHINA?

A technology war has erupted in the areas of artificial intelligence, digital space and 5G between US and China. Tensions have risen following the U.S.’s passing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 and the proposed Uighur Act.

The slowdown in the global economy is compounded by the U.S.-China trade war. As more sectors get drawn in, costs are rising and disrupting global supply chains.

According to a State Bank of India “Ecowrap” report of July 2019, India has scarcely benefited from U.S.-China trade. Of the $35-billion dip in China’s exports to the U.S. market in the first half of 2019, about $21-billion (or 62%) was diverted to other countries. The rest, $14-billion, was made good largely by the U.S. producers.

The big three Chinese high-tech companies, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, together poured in $5-billion in Indian startups in 2018. India could use this opportunity to try and force China to pry open its market to India’s IT and other tech exports. The U.S.-China high-tech war threatens India’s strategic autonomy. Yet India has decided to allow all network equipment makers, including Huawei, to participate in 5G spectrum trials. The outcome is far from clear.

As U.S.-China tensions drive supply chains out of China, India could emerge as an alternative destination with the right policies, as Vietnam has done.

As China’s anxieties in the Asia-Pacific theatre grow, India may yet have to contend with a greater Chinese military presence on its periphery. The Western Theater Command created in 2016 is responsible for the border with India. It is the largest of China’s military regions, and the Tibet Military Command under it has been accorded a higher status than other provincial commands to widen its scope for combat preparedness.

U.S.-China rivalry coincides with an upward trajectory in India-U.S. relations. This is important for equilibrium and multi-polarity in Asia, even as India and China try and build much-needed trust and cooperation.

OP-ED PAGE

LEAD ARTICLE: CHALLENGES TO THE IDEA OF INDIA

Ominous clouds have gathered over India, casting shadows of divisiveness and hate, threatening to undermine civil society and halt or even reverse economic progress.

Newly independent India was imperfect but seemed to possess an ideal of togetherness that created hope.

COMPOSITE CULTURE BEING CHALLENGED

Composite culture of India is being challenged and hence it is important to remember the spirit of Guru Nanak, which led Guru Arjan to write, “No one is my enemy, no one is a stranger, I am connected with all,” and Guru Gobind Singh to insist, “Recognise all of humanity as one.”

This is the time to remember Rabindranath Tagore’s resonant verse: “Come Aryans, come non-Aryans, Hindus and Mussalmans/ Come today, Englishmen, come Christians/ Come Brahmin, cleansing your mind/ Join hands with all.”

Following the end of the Second World War, many new nations were born as peoples and lands shook off their colonial shackles and declared independence. These nations began with idealism, embracing democracy and equality, but military coups and religious captures felled the ideals of one nation after another. But India stood out as a beacon of hope, committed to democracy, freedom of speech and secularism. From the mid-1990s, it also began to see rapid economic growth.

DIVISIVENESS BEING PROMOTED

Those in power are promoting the divisiveness. This is affecting trust and cooperation in the nation. For example, the use of the state machinery in Uttar Pradesh to seek “revenge,” and to promote the ring-fencing of people and silencing of voices is ethically unacceptable and doing great damage to India’s standing globally.

What is not always appreciated, but for which there is a lot of evidence, is that societal trust and a sense of belonging improves economic outcomes, including growth. Economists Yann Algan and Pierre Cahuc have used rigorous statistical analysis to show that higher levels of trust can cause national income to increase dramatically: Africa, with Sweden’s trust levels, would achieve six times its present per capita income.

WHAT WE CAN DO?

We must make this a moment to pause and ask ourselves what we as individuals must do.

Police and functionaries of the state should listen to people and respect them, they must not just wield the baton, but also be bearers of ethical standards.

India is a lower-middle income economy, with a great deal of injustice, unfairness and suffering that will not vanish in haste. Yet, if we resolve to reject the partisanship that is being preached and then strive to take on the many challenges, there can be hope, the hope of pulling back from the brink and building a society and an economy that will be exemplary for not just its own people but for the world.

 

DISCUSSION ABOUT SITUATION IN GULF

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Sunday spoke to his counterparts in Iran, Oman, the United States and the United Arab Emirates regarding the escalating tension in the Gulf. The exchanges were a part of the international consultations among various stakeholders that began soon after Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American drone attack in Baghdad.

Sunday’s exchanges were the first since Maj. Gen Soleimani was assassinated on January 3.

India had described the slain military figure as a “senior Iranian leader” saying peace, stability and security in the Gulf as of “utmost importance” to the country.

The Indian position is borne out of the fact that the Gulf region hosts nearly seven million Indian citizens.That apart India is partnering the port of Chabahar in Iran Any conflict with Iran will adversely affect India’s investments in Chabahar.

 

 

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