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THE HINDU DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 7TH JANUARY 2020

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Q.1“Cryodrakon Boreas” that was seen recently in news is related to:
(a) It was the largest flying animal which was a plane-sized reptile
(b) It is a commet which is approaching earth at a very fast rate
(c) It is an rainbow like reflection seen in southern hemisphere
(d) It is an mammal that lives deep in the ocean

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Bonn Challenge
1. It is a new commitment to the deforested
and degraded land for their restoration.
2. It is an implementation vehicle for
national priorities such as food and
water security while contributing to the
achievements of international climate
change commitments.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding
Basel Ban Amendment:
1. It provides for the prohibition of all
transboundary movements of hazardous
wastes from all developed nations to
developing countries.
2. India has ratified the Basel ban
amendment.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

CHIEF ELECTION COMMISSIONER

NEWS:

The election to the 70-member Delhi Assembly will be held on February 8 and the votes will be counted on February 11, the Election Commission announced on Monday.

At a press conference at the EC headquarters, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the poll notification would be issued on January 14. The last date for filing of nominations is January 21, scrutiny will be done on January 22 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is January 24.

ABOUT ELECTION COMISSION OF INDIA

The Election Commission is a permanent and an independent body established by the Constitution of India directly to ensure free and fair elections in the country.

Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the power of superintendence, direction and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, the office of president of India and the office of vice-president of India shall be vested in the election commission.

  • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • They have a fixed tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through a process of removal similar to that of a Supreme Court judge for by Parliament.

AIR QUALITY INDEX:

NEWS:

The air quality of the city continued to be in ‘the very poor’ category on Monday and is expected to improve to ‘poor’ category on Tuesday, said government-run monitoring agency System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).

On Monday, the average level of PM 2.5 — deadly respirable particles, which is a chief pollutant — was 147.7 ug/m3 more than twice the safe limit of 60ug/m3, as per Indian standards, in Delhi and the NCR at 10 p.m., said Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The level is, however, almost six times the safe limit (25 ug/m3) as set by the World Health Organization.

 ABOUT AIR QUALITY INDEX:

Air Quality Index is a number used by the government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted air currently is and how polluted it is expected to become.

There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted,

Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.

AQI considers eight pollutants

  1. PM10,
  2. PM 2.5,
  3. NO2,
  4. SO2,
  5. CO,
  6. O3,
  7. NH3, and
  8. Pb)

Air Quality Index was launched by Central Pollution Control Board under Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change.

 ABOUT SAFAR

  • SAFAR stands for System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research
  • It is a research program to build Air-Pollution mitigation strategies in consonance with nation’s economic development
  • It is launched in greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location specific information on air quality in near real time
  • It has been combined with the early warning system on weather parameters
  • The ultimate objective of the project is to increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality in their city well in advance so that appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action can be taken up for betterment of air quality and related health issues.
  • SAFAR was developed indigenously by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and operationalized by India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • Pollutants monitored: PM1, PM2.5, PM10, Ozone, CO, NOx (NO, NO2), SO2, , Methane (CH4), Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), VOC’s, Benzene, Mercury.
  • Monitored Meteorological Parameters: UV Radiation, Rainfall, Temperature, Humidity, Wind speed, Wind direction.

DIGILOCKER

NEWS:The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response of the Centre on a petition against the rules pertaining to operation of DigiLocker, the government’s online document storage facility app, on the ground that it does not have a nomination facility.

DigiLocker is a flagship initiative of MEITY under ‘Digital India’ programme. The issued documents in DigiLocker system are deemed to be at par with original physical documents.

ABOUT DIGILOCKER

Targeted at the idea of paperless governance, DigiLocker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents & certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents. Indian citizens who sign up for a DigiLocker account get a dedicated cloud storage space that is linked to their Aadhaar (UIDAI) number.

Organizations that are registered with Digital Locker can push electronic copies of documents and certificates (e.g. driving license, Voter ID, School certificates) directly into citizens lockers. Citizens can also upload scanned copies of their legacy documents in their accounts. These legacy documents can be electronically signed using the eSign facility.

The platform has the following benefits:
  1. Citizens can access their digital documents anytime, anywhere and share it online. This is convenient and time saving.
  2. It reduces the administrative overhead of Government departments by minimizing the use of paper.
  3. Digital Locker makes it easier to validate the authenticity of documents as they are issued directly by the registered issuers.
  4. Self-uploaded documents can be digitally signed using the eSign facility (which is similar to the process of self-attestation).

CHECK DAMS

NEWS:

As the backward Adilabad district in Telangana has rarely seen planned development, the sanction of new check dams across hill streams in its 18 mandals has come a major relief.

Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, who holds the Irrigation portfolio as well, has sanctioned 600 check dams across the State under Phase I of the irrigation development project. Of them, 84 will be constructed in Adilabad district at a cost of about ₹200 crore to irrigate crops on nearly 11,000 acres.

The check dams will not only retain excess water during monsoon but will also improve the ground water level. This will take care of the drinking water needs of the local population.

WHAT IS A CHECK DAM?

check dam is a small, sometimes temporary, dam constructed across a swaledrainage ditch, or waterway to counteract erosion by reducing water flow velocity.

Check dams themselves are not a type of new technology; rather, they are an ancient technique dating from the second century A.D.

Check dams are typically, though not always, implemented in a system of several dams situated at regular intervals across the area of interest

INDIAN COUNCIL OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH

NEWS: A system will soon be put in place to scientifically validate, scale up and propagate the innovations of progressive farmers as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is poised to set up a Farmers’ Innovation Fund.

As part of this system, an innovation centre would be established in New Delhi where the innovations would be scientifically validated, he said. Farmers would also be allowed to pursue research under the system.

As part of efforts to encourage use of technology in the farm sector, a linkage had been created between 105 start-ups with farmers.

ABOUT ICAR

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare , Government of India.

Formerly known as Imperial Council of Agricultural Research, it was established on 16 July 1929 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 in pursuance of the report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture.

The ICAR has its headquarters at New Delhi.

The Council is the apex body for co-ordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country. With 101 ICAR institutes and 71 agricultural universities spread across the country this is one of the largest national agricultural systems in the world.

JALLIKATTU

NEWS:

Gone are the days when organisers, afraid of the police in the Kuppam area, hesitated to hold “cattle festivals”, considered an “inferior” version of Tamil Nadu’s macho bull taming sport jallikattu. Now, the festival is being held on par with jallikattu at several places in the Kuppam Assembly constituency.

ABOUT JALLIKATTU

  • Jallikattu is referred to as bull taming event typically practiced in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations.
  • The person participating in the event has to pluck bundles of money or gold tied to the animal’s horns.
  • The term ‘jallikattu’ is derived from the Tamil words ‘jalli’ and ‘kattu’. Jalli refers to gold or silver coins. Kattu means ‘tied’.
  • It is an ancient ‘sport’, believed to have been practiced some 2500 years ago. It also found mentioned in the Sangam literature.
  • It is controversial because the sport often results in major injuries and even deaths of both bulls and humans.

INDIAN DATA RELAY SATELLITE SYSTEM

NEWS:

India plans to ring in its own era of space-to-space tracking and communication of its space assets this year by putting up a new satellite series called the Indian Data Relay Satellite System.

The IDRSS is planned to track and be constantly in touch with Indian satellites, in particular those in low-earth orbits which have limited coverage of earth.

It will also be useful in monitoring launches.

The first beneficiary would be the prospective crew members of the Gaganyaan mission of 2022 who can be fully and continuously in touch with mission control throughout their travel.

During the launch of the human mission and also when the crew craft orbits earth from a distance of 400 km, at least one ground station must see and track it. But with available ground stations, that would not be the case. Without data relay satellites, ISRO would have to create a large number ground stations everywhere or hire them globally and yet the crewed spacecraft would not be visible all the time.

FIRST EDITORIAL: BRUTAL ATTACK ON JNU STUDENTS

WHAT HAD HAPPENED IN JNU?

On Sunday night a mob of masked criminals ransacked hostels and grievously wounded students, professors and staff, going about it all in methodical madness for several hours.

The street lights were turned off and the police personnel appeared to have given cover for the mob that leisurely walked away with abusive slogans.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

This evil will outlive its perpetrators and facilitators; and the night will continue to haunt India’s dreams to mature itself as a democracy and as a society that treasures its institutions.

The Hindutva dispensation’s extreme intolerance towards intellectualism in general, and institutions in particular, has been on naked display since 2014. JNU has been a special target, and that itself is telling. JNU recruits from India’s vast diversity, and offers its students the best opportunity to develop critical thinking and excel in their chosen paths of life.

This liberating potential and the questioning spirit of JNU has long been reviled by a political project that seeks to erase the distinction between myth and history; faith and fanaticism; and criticism and subversion.

The JNU’s administration and its Vice Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar have not merely failed in their duty as teachers and guardians; they have come across as desecrators of a place whose sanctity they were ordained to protect. The Delhi police, under its current Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, which had shown such alacrity in enforcing order recently that they stormed the library of Jamia Millia Islamia, stood by not as bystanders but as collaborators. Though they did not wear masks, they had their identities concealed by not wearing name badges.

The only way the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi can prove that this mayhem was not sanctioned is to come down heavily on the police inaction and bring the mobsters to exemplary justice.

LEAD ARTICLE: STEPS TAKEN BY CURRENT GOVERNMENT TO MAKE STUDENTS APOLITICAL

WHO IS A STUDENT?

GENERAL VIEW: ‘Student’ is an individual who is socially sensitive, and uses education in the service of building a democratic, secular and egalitarian India, as visualised in our Constitution; one who subjects everything, including government policy, to critical scrutiny.

BJP’S VIEW: Student should be self-centred, self-absorbed buyers of education, who do not concern themselves with social issues and who concentrate their energies on becoming successful sellers of labour-power on the job market.

WHAT IS AN UNIVERSITY?

GENERAL VIEW: a site where there is intense and informed critical engagement with the burning issues of our time.

BJP’S VIEW: a site where skills (which are not the same as education) are sold

STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE STUDENTS APOLITICAL

One is to alter the student composition, by raising fees (as in JNU) so that only rich and career-oriented students come to the university; opening new departments that reduce the weight of critical disciplines like the humanities, social sciences and basic sciences; and doing away with reservations in admissions for students from socially deprived backgrounds, so that campuses cease to have an inclusive character.

A second method is to prevent students from participating in demonstrations, and from organising interactions with persons unacceptable to the Sangh Parivar.

Yet another method, being increasingly resorted to, is to call the police to the campus to unleash brutality on students or to book ‘inconvenient’ students under one or the other of the draconian laws that exist on our statute books.

All these methods are brought into play by appointing, as heads of institutions, martinets who are Sangh Parivar loyalists. These persons have little sympathy for students, little pride in the institutions they head, and little accessibility to the university community at large.

The desire to privatise and commercialise education is part of this effort to disarm the students. Because of the high fees in private institutions, not only are students from impecunious backgrounds excluded, but even the richer students who fill these institutions remain unaware of social realities to which the proximity of poorer students would have exposed them; they remain socially insensitive.

CONCLUSION

Few things have cheered one up as much as the resilience of the students in the face of this brutality in upholding the values of the Constitution, values upon which modern India is founded and which Hindutva is undermining. This makes one confident that whatever the short-term travails, the future of the country is safe.

SECOND EDITORIAL: CALL FOR US EXIT FROM IRAQ

WHY SUCH A DEMAND?

The U.S. troops, which are in Iraq on an invitation from the Iraqi government to fight the Islamic State, have carried out air strikes against Iraqi militias in recent weeks, without the approval of the Baghdad government. This triggered public protests and led to the siege of the American Embassy last week

In an already explosive situation, the killing of Soleimani acted as a catalyst.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who condemned the killing of Soleimani, has stated unambiguously that it is time for the Americans to go home. Government officials have already started working on a memorandum on the legal and procedural formalities to expel U.S. troops, according to him.

EDITORIAL’S VIEW

Iraq is a crucial ally for the U.S. in the war against terrorism in West Asia, and the Trump administration has nobody to blame but itself for the setback. It pushed the Iraqis to a point where they had to choose between Tehran and Washington. And understandably, they picked their powerful neighbour.

U.S. President Donald Trump still doesn’t seem to be in a mood to listen. He has threatened Iraq with sanctions and a bill for billions of dollars if the U.S. troops are forced to pull back. This approach not only violates Iraq’s sovereignty, it also escalates the situation to a three-cornered crisis involving the U.S., Iraq and Iran.

Mr. Trump is primarily responsible for today’s situation. His decision to pull the U.S. out of a functioning Iran nuclear deal was the trigger.

When the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran, it was up to the other signatories of the deal — European countries, Russia and China — to save the agreement. Iran waited for a year before taking countermeasures. But they did nothing, barring issuing occasional statements in favour of the agreement.

WAY FORWARD

As a first step of de-escalation, what Mr. Trump could do is to order his soldiers to pack their bags and leave Iraq.

 

OP-ED PAGE

LEAD ARTICLE: IMPACT OF SOEIMANI’S KILLING

On January 3 , Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the powerful Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, arrived in Baghdad from Damascus. He had been invited to the country by Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

As they drove out of the airport, a U.S. Reaper drone fired a missile, which killed them instantly.

STRATEGIC MISTAKE BY US

The Trump administration realised quickly that it had made a strategic mistake. Even U.S. allies were shocked to see Mr. Trump brazenly kill a senior Iranian official, who has a diplomatic passport, and an Iraqi political leader who commands a militia which is understood to be part of the Iraqi army. These assassinations were seen in Iraq and Iran as a declaration of war.

Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi said that the killing of Soleimani and al-Muhandis was an “act of aggression against Iraq” that would “light the fuse of war”.

If President Trump thought that this was an attack on Iran, he miscalculated; it was already being seen as an attack on Iraq and on the pro-Iranian movements from Lebanon (Hezbollah) to Afghanistan (Liwa Fatemiyoun). It is not an Iranian retaliation that should scare the U.S., but attacks by pro-Iranian groups across the region where thousands of U.S. troops and official personnel are stationed.

Soleimani’s assassination has awakened the deep strain of Iranian patriotism. Last year, Iran was struck by protests over the rise of fuel prices. Now there is a tidal wave of patriotism washing across Iran; people are asking for revenge. In the holy city of Qom, a red flag was flown on the dome of Jamkaran Mosque signifying that Iran is prepared for a long war.

CONCLUSION

This attack showed the weakness of the U.S. position, which is why President Trump felt the need to retaliate in a dramatic way. Mr. Trump’s recklessness has isolated the U.S. further and deepened anxieties amongst its increasingly isolated regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

SECOND ARTICLE: WHY TULU SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN 8TH SCHEDULE?

Among the legion of languages in India, the Constitution has 22 blue-eyed languages. They are protected in Schedule VIII of the Constitution.

But many languages that are kept out of this favoured position are in some ways more deserving to be included in the Eighth Schedule. For example, Sanskrit, an Eighth Schedule language, has only 24,821 speakers (2011 Census). Manipuri, another scheduled language, has only 17,61,079 speakers.

However, many unscheduled languages have a sizeable number of speakers: Bhili/Bhilodi has 1,04,13,637 speakers; Gondi has 29,84,453 speakers; Garo has 11,45,323; Ho has 14,21,418; Khandeshi, 18,60,236; Khasi, 14,31,344; and Oraon, 19,88,350.

Tulu is a textbook example of linguistic discrimination. Tulu is a Dravidian language whose speakers are concentrated in two coastal districts of Karnataka and in Kasaragod district of Kerala. Kasaragod district is called ‘Sapta bhasha Samgama Bhumi (the confluence of seven languages)’, and Tulu is among the seven.

The Census reports 18,46,427 native speakers of Tulu in India. The Tulu-speaking people are larger in number than speakers of Manipuri and Sanskrit, which have the Eighth Schedule status.

The present-day Tulu linguistic majority area is confined to the region of Tulu Nadu, which comprises the districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi in Karnataka and the northern part of Kasaragod district of Kerala up to the river Payaswani, or Chandragiri. The cities of Mangaluru, Udupi and Kasaragod are the epicentres of Tulu culture.

CONCLUSION

Tulu, along with other deserving languages, should be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution in order to substantially materialise the promise of equality of status and opportunity mentioned in the Preamble.

NATIONAL POPULATION REGISTER

NEWS:

The National Population Register exercise, initiated in Odisha, has a few more questions about parents — when and where they were born.

In 2010, enumerators had asked people only to name their father, mother and spouse and if they were alive or not.

The present NPR has a database of 119 crore residents.

About National Population Register

  • Definition:
    • It is a list of “usual residents of the country”.
    • A “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
  • Legal Provisions:
    • The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
    • It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
  • Background:
    • The data for the NPR was first collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of Census 2011.
    • In 2015, this data was further updated by conducting a door-to-door survey.

CHINA’S MILITARY DRILL IN TIBET

NEWS:

The Chinese army has begun major military exercises in the high-altitude Tibet bordering India, deploying latest weapons, including the Type 15 light battle tank and the new 155-MM vehicle-mounted howitzer, a media report said on Sunday.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Tibet Military Command started its New Year exercises in which it has deployed helicopters, armoured vehicles, heavy artillery and anti-aircraft missiles across the region from Lhasa, capital of Tibet, to the border defence front lines with elevations of more than 4,000 m, state-run Global Times reported.

India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) covered 3,488 km, including the border along Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet.

NATIONAL COMPANY LAW APPELLATE TRIBUNAL

NEWS:

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Monday dismissed the petition of the Registrar of Companies seeking modification of its judgment in the Tata-Mistry case and said the ruling had not cast any aspersions on the RoC.

“There is no ground to amend judgment dated December 18, 2019,” a two-member NCLAT bench said.

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)

  • It was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of National Company Law Tribunal.
    • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).
    • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India under Section 202 and Section 211 of IBC.
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

INCREASE IN OIL PRICES

Oil prices jumped by about 1% on Monday, pushing Brent above $70 a barrel, as rhetoric from the United States, Iran and Iraq fanned tensions in West Asia after a U.S. air strike killed a top Iranian military commander.

Brent crude futures soared to a high of $70.74 a barrel and was at $69.36 by 8.30 p.m., up 76 cents from Friday’s settlement.

The region accounts for nearly half of the world’s oil production, with a fifth of the world’s oil shipments passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

More sanctions on Iraq

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday threatened to impose sanctions on Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), if U.S. troops were forced to withdraw from the country.

ABOUT OPEC

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is an intergovernmental organization of 14 nations founded in 1960 in Baghdad and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna.

AlgeriaAngolaEcuadorEquatorial GuineaGabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, LibyaNigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Saudi Arabia (the de facto leader), the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Indonesia and Qatar are former members.

OPEC’s mission is to:-

  • coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets,
  • secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers,
  • steady income to producers and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.

 

SMALL FINANCE BANKS

NEWS:

Shivalik Mercantile Co-operative Bank Limited has become the first urban cooperative bank (UCB) that has been granted ‘in-principle’ permission to convert into a small finance bank by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The move comes after the RBI had announced a scheme on voluntary transition of UCB into a SFB on September 27, 2018.

ABOUT SMALL FINANCE BANKS

SFBs are niche banks (banks that focuses and serves the needs of a certain demographic segment of the population).

SFBs are scaled down versions of commercial banks, with both deposit-taking and loan making functions.

They can supply credit to MSMEs, agriculture and banking services in unbanked and under-banked regions in the country.

SFBs can sell FOREX, mutual funds, insurance, pensions and can also convert into a full-fledged bank SFBs was recommended by the Nachiket Mor Committee on financial inclusion.

Who can open a SFB?

Resident individuals/professionals carrying 10 years of experience in banking and finance and companies and societies owned and controlled by residents will be eligible to set up small finance banks.

SFBs have a minimum paid up capital of Rs.100 crore.

 

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