Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (10th to 17th July, 2019)
(Info graphic Summary at the end)
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy
The Kerala Startup Mission(KSUM) is hosting the Women Startup Summit on August 1,2019.
- The summit will be held in association with the Indian Women Network floated by Confederation of Indian Industry(CII).The theme of the Summit is “Developing an Inclusive Entrepreneurship Ecosystem”.
- Further,about 20 women startups shortlisted from the “She Loves Tech” national grand challenge will be showcased in the summit.
The summit aims at encouraging aspiring women professionals to take up their entrepreneurial journey and developing an inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem in the State.
She Loves Tech:
She Loves Tech 2019 Global Startup Competition is a global platform for women entrepreneurs as well as startups dedicated to improve the lives of women.
Advantages of women in business
- A diverse workforce is an innovative workforce
- Women excel at the soft skills needed for business leadership
- Women represent huge economic power and offer important consumer insight
Challenges for women in business
- Women are still underrepresented in key fields
- Gender bias in the workplace
- Women are less successful when it comes to salary negotiation
Opportunities for women in business
- Gender equality and inclusivity becoming policy
- Entrepreneurship as the path to leadership
- Strengthening credentials with a business degree
Which city will be hosting the upcoming women Startup Summit?
Kochi is gearing up to promote women entrepreneurship summit in a big way. In association with the Indian Women Network run by the Confederation of Indian Industries, the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) will be hosting a women startup summit on August 1 in Kochi. This meet is open to all women professionals, budding entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and startup founders across the country.
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance
Cabinet approves Amendment in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012
It will make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children including death penalty.
The amendments also provide for levy of fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children through legal provisions. The objectives of the POCSO Act are to protect children from the offences of Sexual assault, Sexual harassment, Pornography and to establish Special Courts for speedy trial of such offences.
The Salient features of the Act are that it:
- Defines the child as anyone below the age of 18.
- Is gender neutral law, wherein the law takes cognisance of sexual crimes committed against both girls and boys under the age of 18 years.
- Addresses a wide range of sexual offences which include anything from complete and partial penetration, non-penetrative sexual assault, stalking of a child, showing children pornography, using the child for pornography and exhibitionism.
- The law protects children from both contact and non-contact sexual abuse.
- Places the burden of proof on the accused and ensures punishment for all perpetrators irrespective of age and gender.
- Does not recognize consensual sexual acts among children or between a child and an adult.
- Prosecutes any person (including a child) for engaging in a sexual act with a child irrespective of whether the latter consented to it.
- Provides for more severe punishment, when the sexual offence is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority.
- Introduces child friendly measures and defines the role of the Police as a child protector.
- Pronounces the importance of Mandatory Reporting of sexual offences.
- Stipulates that a case of CSA must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.
Critical analysis of POSCO Act:
- Under POSCO act, any person (including a child) can be prosecuted for engaging in a sexual act with a child irrespective of whether the latter consented. A husband/wife can be prosecuted for engaging in a sexual act with his/her spouse under the age of eighteen years. The Act does not recognise consensual sexual acts among children or between a child and an adult.
- Another issue that has received less attention is whether couples under 18 years of age should be treated as juveniles in conflict with the law. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had stressed on the need for the law to recognise consensual sexual exploration among adolescents by decriminalising it when it is between:
- Children above 12 years when the age-gap was less than two years and
- Children above 14 years when the age-gap was less than three years.
But POSCO has failed to consider the nuances of age, age difference, and child development.
The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.
It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity.
The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof.
Insofar as child sexual abuse is concerned, though POCSO is a wholesome law, there is a strong urgency to ensure its implementation and create awareness amongst officers and all stakeholders on what it contains. Successful implementation of any law demands a coherent understanding and structural application, which is absent in case of laws ascertaining the identity and social dignity of children in India
The POCSO Act makes the following bodies responsiblefor the implementation of the provisions of the Act:
A) Local authorities and civic bodies
B) State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights
C) Police and the judiciary
D) State legislatures
Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to test-fire ASRAAM from the Russian Su-30 MKI and the Anglo-French Jaguar aircraft by the end of this year (2019).
The missile was shortlisted through a tender and MBDA was working with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on the integration.
- ASRAAM is the British Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM).
- It is a Within-Visual-Range (WVR) dominance weapon with a range of over 25 km.
- It is air-to-air missile.
- It is also known as ‘heat seeking’, because infrared is radiated primarily by heat.
- It is designed and built by MBDA, UK to provide enhanced aerial combat capabilities for fighter aircraft.
- It can also be fired at targets behind its aircraft.
- It accepts target information via aircraft sensors, such as radar or helmet-mounted sight, but can also act as an autonomous infrared search and track system.
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking to adopt ASRAAM across its fighter fleet.
- This plan is to bridge the missile gap between the IAF and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), which displayed an edge during the 27 February dogfight.
ASRAAM which recently appeared in news is a
a. welfare mission for the destitute
b. short range air to air missile
c. Russian submarine
d. None of the above
Answer : b
Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology
Astronomers have defined a new class of celestial objects called “ploonets,” which are orphaned moons that have escaped the bonds of their planetary parents.
Astronomers named a new class of theorized objects that begin as moons around large planets, but eventually move out on their own. They call them “ploonets.”
Planet + moon = Ploonet.
Where do they exist?:
The scientists think these objects should exist in solitary orbits around their host stars and could even be discovered in observations from past and present exoplanet-hunting surveys, like Kepler and TESS.
Making of a Ploonet
The researchers explain that the angular momentum between the planet and its moon results in the moon escaping the gravitational pull of its parent.
A new study suggests that the moons of gas-giant exoplanets may break away into their own orbits.
As the gas giants move inward toward their suns, the orbits of their moons are often disrupted, according to new computer models.
Over the past few decades, astronomers have uncovered more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets, and nearly as many exoplanet candidates.
And one thing astronomers have learned from this sizeable census is that a surprisingly high number of massive exoplanets — called “hot Jupiters” — are located oddly close to their host stars.
Although at least part of the reason they detected so many hot Jupiters boils down to observational biases, this significant sample of weird planets still raises questions about how planets form.
Have we already found Ploonets?
Although there has yet to be a definite confirmation of a Ploonet orbiting a star, there are at least a few examples that might fit the bill.
The evidence for these potential Ploonets comes from perplexing exoplanetary observations that have yet to be adequately explained.
Earth’s own Moon is slowly spiraling away from our planet; it may also end up as a ploonet in some 5 billion years.
‘Ploonets’ refers to
c) Lakes created by a meteor impact
d) Trans-Neptunian Objects
Astronomers named a new class of theorized objects that begin as moons around large
planets, but eventually move out on their own. They call them ploonets.
Topic in Syllabus: Security Issues
The Lok Sabha has passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
This Bill gives NIA officers power to investigate offences committed outside India too, and mandates the setting up of Special Courts.
What is NIA?
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was set up in 2009 under the NIA Act, 2008.
- It was set up in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack.
- At present, NIA is functioning as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency in India.
National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 provides for the following:
- “In order to facilitate the speedy investigation
- prosecution of Scheduled Offences, including those committed outside India against the Indian citizens or affecting the interest of India
- To insert certain new offences in the Schedule to the Act as Scheduled Offences which adversely affect the national security, it has become necessary to amend certain provisions of the Act.”
Key features of the Bill:
- Type of offences – NIA can investigate offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
- NIA’s jurisdiction – For the offences under its purview, NIA officers have the same power as other police officers and these extend across the country.
- Trial Courts – The existing Act allows the Centre to constitute special courts for NIA’s trials.
Amendments to the Bill:
- Type of offences that the NIA can investigate and prosecute is now expanded.
- This will enable NIA to additionally investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
- NIA’s jurisdiction – The Bill gives NIA officers the power to investigate offences committed outside India. The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.
- Its jurisdiction outside India will be subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
- Special trial courts can be designated by the Central government for the offences that come under NIA’s purview or the “scheduled offences”.
- The Bill enables the Centre to designate sessions courts as special courts.
- The Centre is required to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning, before designating it.
- The state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.
- It aims to be a thoroughly professional investigative agency matching the best international standards at the national level, by developing into a highly trained, partnership-oriented workforce.
- It aims to discourage the existing and potential terrorist groups/individuals.
- It aims to develop as a storehouse of terrorist related information.
Which of the following works as the “National Central Bureau” of INTERPOL?
(a) Central Vigilance Commission
(b) Central Bureau of Investigation
(c) Chief Information Commissioner
(d) National Investigation Agency
Central Bureau of Investigation acts as the ‘National Central Bureau’ of INTERPOL in India.
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society – Education
To facilitate Internationalization of Higher Education in India, a Programme viz. ‘Study in India’ is under implementation.
- To make India a preferred education destination/hub for foreign students;
- Improve the soft power of India with focus on the neighbouring countries
- Use it as a tool in diplomacy;
- To rapidly increase the inflow of inbound International Students in India through systematic brand-building,
- Marketing, social media and digital marketing campaigns;
- To increase India’s market share of global education exports;
- Improvement in overall quality of higher education;
- To reduce the export-import imbalance in the number of international students;
- Growth in India’s global market share of International students;
- Increase in global ranking of India etc.
Attracting International Students :
- The programme focuses on attracting International students from select 30 plus countries across South-East Asia, Middle East and Africa.
- The programme envisages participation of select reputed Indian institutes/universities by way of offering seats for the International students at affordable rates, along with fee waivers to meritorious foreign students ranging from 100% to 25%.
- A centralised admission web-portal (https://studyinindia.gov.in) acts as a single window for the admission of foreign students.
With the increase in number of foreign students, the global ranking of the Indian Higher Educational institutions will improve.
The domestic students shall be exposed to a more diverse peer group and also get greater International exposure culminating in enhanced interest of Indian students to study in the country.
Match List – I with List-Il and select the correct answer from the code given below:
List – I (Institutions) List – II (Locations)
(a) The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) (i) Shimla
(b) The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) (ii) New Delhi
(c) The Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) (iii) Banglore
(d) The Central Institute of Coastal Engineering for fisheries (iv) Lucknow
a b c d
(A) ii i iv iii
(B) i ii iii iv
(C) ii iv i iii
(D) iv iii ii i
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society
Government of India has launched “LaQshya” (Labour room Quality improvement Initiative) to improve quality of care in labour room and maternity operation theatres in public health facilities.
India has come a long way in improving maternal survival as Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has reduced from 167 in 2011-13 to 130 in 2014-16, an impressive decline of 22% in the last few years.
India is further committed to ensuring safe motherhood to every pregnant woman in the country.
- To reduce maternal and newborn mortality & morbidity due to hemorrhage, retained placenta, preterm, preeclampsia and eclampsia, obstructed labour, puerperal sepsis, newborn asphyxia, and newborn sepsis, etc.
- To improve Quality of care during the delivery and immediate post-partum care, stabilization of complications and ensure timely referrals, and enable an effective two-way follow-up system.
- To enhance satisfaction of beneficiaries visiting the health facilities and provide Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to all pregnant women attending the public health facilities.
Healthcare facilities have been identified for implementation of LaQshya program:
- Government medical college hospitals.
- District Hospitals & equivalent health facilities.
- Designated FRUs and high case load CHCs with over 100 deliveries/month ( 60 in hills and desert areas)
- It is being implemented at all Medical College Hospitals, District Hospitals and First Referral Unit (FRU), and Community Health Center (CHCs) and will benefit every pregnant woman and new-born delivering in public health institutions.
- It aims at implementing ‘fast-track’ interventions for achieving tangible results within 18 months.
A multi-pronged strategy has been adopted such as
- Improving infrastructure up-gradation,
- Ensuring availability of essential equipment,
- Providing adequate human resources,
- Capacity building of health care workers and
- Improving quality processes in the labour room.
- Dedicated Obstetric ICUs at Medical College Hospital level and Obstetric HDUs at District Hospital are operationalised under LaQshya program.
- The Quality Improvement in labour room and maternity OT will be assessed through NQAS (National Quality Assurance Standards). Every facility achieving 70% score on NQAS will be certified as LaQshya certified facility. Facilities scoring more than 90%, 80% and 70% will be given Platinum, Gold and Silver badge accordingly.
- Facilities achieving NQAS certification, defined quality indicators and 80% satisfied beneficiaries will be provided incentive of Rs 6 lakh, Rs 3 lakh and Rs 2 lakh for Medical College Hospital, District Hospital and FRUs respectively.
Maternal Mortality Ratio
- The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is a key performance indicator for efforts to improve the health and safety of mothers before, during, and after childbirth.
- MMR is the annual number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
- Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy.
Recently the government has launched which initiative to improve quality of care in labour room and maternity operation theatres?
Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment
National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to shut down all polluting industries in “critically polluted” and “severely polluted” areas within three months.
It also directed all States and Union Territories to furnish a report on the amount of biomedical waste generated and asked them to set up common treatment and disposal facilities, if not done yet.
- National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 to dispose of cases having environmental ramification.
- Its headed by retired judge of supreme court or being chief justice of high court and almost 20 experts and 20 judicial members.
- Recommend penalties and fine
- Recommend policies for environment protection
- Disposal of cases within 6 months
- Enforcement of any legal right relating to environment
- Giving relief and compensation for damages
- Has power of civil courts
- Helps reduce burden on higher courts
- Faster resolution of cases
- Specialised member brings efficiency to justice
- Less expensive than courts
- Fulfils constitutional provision like article 21 i.e. right to clean environment and article 48(a) i.e. protection of environment and safeguarding of forests
- The rapid pace of development is harming the environment. The NGT provides a check and balance for this.
- It takes suo – moto cases like banning the crackers, directing states to speed up action to clean Ganga.
The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related to the environment:
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977,
- The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
- The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Any violation pertaining to these laws or any decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.
Strengths of NGT:
- Over the years NGT has emerged as a critical player in environmental regulation, passing strict orders on issues ranging from pollution to deforestation to waste management.
- NGT offers a path for the evolution of environmental jurisprudence by setting up an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
- It helps reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts on environmental matters.
- NGT is less formal, less expensive, and a faster way of resolving environment related disputes.
- It plays a crucial role in curbing environment-damaging activities.
- The Chairperson and members are not eligible for reappointment, hence they are likely to deliver judgements independently, without succumbing to pressure from any quarter.
- The NGT has been instrumental in ensuring that the Environment Impact Assessment process is strictly observed.
- Two important acts – Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 have been kept out of NGT’s jurisdiction. This restricts the jurisdiction area of NGT and at times hampers its functioning as crucial forest rights issue is linked directly to environment.
- The NGT decisions are being challenged in various High Courts under Article 226 (power of High Courts to issue certain writs) with many asserting the superiority of a High Court over the NGT, claiming ‘High Court is a constitutional body while NGT is a statutory body’.” This is one of the weaknesses of the Act as there is lack of clarity about what kind of decisions can be challenged; even though according to the NGT Act, its decision can be challenged before the Supreme Court.
- Decisions of NGT have also been criticised and challenged due to their repercussions on economic growth and development.
- The absence of a formula based mechanism in determining the compensation has also brought criticism to the tribunal.
- The decisions given by NGT are not fully complied by the stakeholders or the government. Sometimes its decisions are pointed out not to be feasible to implement within a given timeframe.
- The lack of human and financial resources has led to high pendency of cases – which undermines NGT’s very objective of disposal of appeals within 6 months.
- The justice delivery mechanism is also hindered by limited number of regional benches.
There is need for more autonomy and widen NGT’s scope for effective protection of environment in balance with human developmental activities.
The NGT deals with civil cases under the folllowing laws related to the environment:
a. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
b. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
c. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
d. All of the Above
Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs
Pakistan agreed to give year-long visa-free access for Indian pilgrims to the holy Gurdwara of Kartarpur Sahib.
It was agreed to allow visa-free travel for the Indian passport-holders and OCI card-holders seven days a week.
Kartarpur Corridor :
The Kartarpur Corridor is a proposed border corridor between the neighbouring nations of India and Pakistan, connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and GurdwaraDarbar Sahib Kartarpur (in Punjab, Pakistan).
Currently under planning, the corridor is intended to allow religious devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles) from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa.
The Kartarpur Corridor was first proposed in early 1999 by the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, respectively, as part of the Delhi–Lahore Bus diplomacy.
The corridor will reportedly be completed before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019.
Currently pilgrims from India have to take a bus to Lahore to get to Kartarpur, which is a 125 km journey, despite the fact that people on the Indian side of the border can physically see GurdwaraDarbar Sahib Kartarpur on the Pakistani side. An elevated platform has also been constructed for the same on the Indian side, where people use binoculars to get a good view.
- India proposed that the holy shrine be open to Indian citizens of all faiths, acceding to this demand pakistan “in-principle agreed” to allow all people with Indian passport and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card-holders.
- India also asked Pakistan to prevent Khalistan supporters from misusing this historic initiative.
- India also urged Pakistan to allow ‘Nagar Kirtan’ from Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan in July and during October-November 2019 as part of the celebrations to mark the 550th birth of Guru Nanak dev, the first Sikh Guru.
Guru Nanak Dev
- Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti is observed on the full-moon day in the month of Katak to celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539).
- He was the first of the 10 Sikh Gurus and the founder of Sikhism.
- The Kartarpur corridor will be implemented as an integrated development project with Government of India funding. The development comes ahead of the 550th Prakash Purab or 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in 2019.
- Nagar Kirtan is a Punjabi term which literally means “Neighbourhood Kirtan”.
- The term refers to the possession of Sikh Sangat (Congregation) through the town singing holy hymns.
- The concept of a Nagar Kirtan is to bring the message of God to the doorstep of the community.
- It is common during the month of Vaisakhi(April-May) and take place all over the globe.
The Khalistan movement is a Khalsa nationalist movement that wants to create an independent state for Sikh people, inside the current north-western region of India.
Kartarpur Sahib is revered as
a. Guru Nanak’s final resting place
b. Guru Gobind’s final resting place
c. Both a and b
Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology
Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which successfully made its second touchdown on asteroid Ryugu has become the first ever space probe to gather material from beneath the surface of an asteroid.
- Hayabusa 2 was launched in December 2014 and is planned to complete a mission of six years.
- It arrived at Ryugu in July 2018 and will spend 18 months studying the asteroid before making its return to Earth in December 2020.
- It picked up samples of the material by shooting down a projectile from its one-metre long cylindrical horn, which then captured the fragments rebounding from the surface, stated the release.
- The purpose of drilling is to collect samples for possible clues to the origin of the solar system.
Structure of Ryugu
- Ryugu is a rubble-pile asteroid: A collection of rocks and dust held together loosely by gravity.
- Its surface is also strewn with an unusual number of boulders — more per unit surface area than any asteroid explored so far.
- It returned samples to Earth in 2010 marking the first time sample materials from an asteroid were brought back to Earth.
- Asteroids are actually minor planets which can neither be classified either as a planet or as a comet.
- These are generally in the direct orbit around the Sun.
- The larger forms of asteroids are also known as planetoids.
Why Study Asteroids?
- Asteroids, like comets, are primitive bodies that can be considered to be the building blocks of the early solar system. They hold a record of the birth and initial evolution of the solar system.
- Larger planets like Earth went through a more complex evolution over which the pristine materials were melted and altered significantly. Due to this change, the materials found on large planets do not hold information into their early stages of formation.
- Comets and asteroids, formed early in the evolution of the Solar System, retain a record of when, where and in what conditions they were formed. Exploration of these primitive bodies is essential in gaining insight into the formation of the Solar System.
What is the difference between asteroids and comets?
1. Asteroids are small rocky planetoids, while comets are formed of frozen gases held together by rocky and metallic material.
2. Asteroids are found mostly between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, while comets are found mostly between Venus and Mercury.
3. Comets show a perceptible glowing tail, while asteroids do not.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a. 1 and 2 only
b. 1 and 3 only
c. 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3
Asteroids, also called as minor planets or planetoids, are rocky remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. They are found orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter within the main asteroid belt.
Comets are cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, rock and dust. When a comet’s come close to the sun, it heats up and throws dust and gases into a giant glowing head. The dust and gases form a tail that stretches away for millions of kilometers.
Thus statement 2 is wrong and 1 and 3 are right. Therefore ans is option b