Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (21st to 27th November, 2018)

NASA Spacecraft lands on Red Planet

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (21st to 27th November, 2018)

 

Topic: Make elephant corridors eco-sensitive zones, says NGT

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology and Environment

 Elephant corridors

Why in news?

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to consider declaring all elephant corridors in the country as eco-sensitive zones.

 

More about on news:

  • It was noted by NGT that issue of elephant corridors have been raised by different applicants and various judgments have also been passed by the Tribunal. Therefore, NGT direct MoEF&CC to look into this aspect in a broader perspective and also to have a permanent solution.
  • NGT said the Ministry to look in to the issue by declaring all elephant corridors all over the country as eco sensitive zones by exercising its power (under relevant Acts.)
  • It give two weeks’ time to the Ministry to look into the issue and to proceed in the matter for declaration of such areas as eco sensitive zones.”
  • The observations came while the green panel was hearing a plea moved by Assam resident Pradip Kumar Bhuyan that highlighted the increasing number of unnatural elephant deaths taking place in the state.
  • It is the case of the applicants that it is the complete lack of legal protection to elephant corridors and elephant reserves that has led to a large number of deaths in areas beyond the protected areas and for which the applicants have sought intervention from the tribunal.
  • Owing to the increased denudation and loss of their forest habitats, elephants have come increasingly into conflicts with humans and faced deliberate retaliatory killings and accidents at railway crossings, high tension power lines, power fences and trenches.

 

Elephant Corridor:

  • Elephant corridor is a thin strip of land that allows elephants to move freely from one habitat patch to another.
  • 88 elephant corridors have been identified by the wildlife trust of India under National elephant Corridor project.

 

Significance:

  • To address the development vs. environment issue which causes habitat loss to animals.
  • To reduce man-animal conflict: Expanding economic aspirations have given way to the conversion of many wetlands into urban centres, roads and railway projects, infrastructure for tourism. It has caused reduction of space available for animals to roam freely. It arises from man-animal conflict if space for roaming is not provided for them.
  • These corridors/projects are win-win for both the people and the animal because farming produce in those get destroyed whenever a herd of animals passes from those areas.
  • It can address the poaching issue because now the corridors can be technologically monitored.
  • WLT (world land trust) and other foreign elephant conservation organizations are funding wildlife trust of India in some corridor formation.

 

Eco-Sensitive Zone:

  • Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  • They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
  • ESZ are regulated by central government through Min. of Environment, Forests and Climate change (MoEFCC). Ministry came out with new guidelines for regulation of such areas in 2011.
  • An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.

Eco-Sensitive Zone Area

 

Sample Question:

Consider the following statements with respect to Eco-Sensitive Zones

  1. Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are areas notified by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Government of India around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  2. The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: b) 2 only

 


 

Topic: Who are the Sentinelese in Andaman Island?

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society

Sentinelese

 

Why in news?

Recently an American tourist, John Allen Chau who ventured into the islands inhabited by North Sentinelese tribe was shot with bows and arrows.

 

More about on Sentinelese:

  • The Sentinelese tribe live in isolation in the North Sentinel Island of Andaman and Nicobar and are one of the last tribes that remain disconnected with the outside world.
  • They have inhabited the island for nearly 60,000 years.
  • The population of the tribe could range anywhere between 40 and 500. The 2011 Census records 15 Sentinelese on the island, including 12 males and three females.
  • The Sentinelese, known to be a hostile tribe, are hunters and gatherers.
  • It is believed that they are the direct descendants of the first humans who emerged from Africa.

 

Recent developments:

  • The Indian government has made several attempts to reach out to the tribe since 1964 but has been met with hostility.
  • After the 2004 tsunami, emergency teams attempted to make contact with its members to distribute relief material.
  • In 2006, two fishermen, who had spent the night on their boat next to the island, were killed allegedly by members of the tribe.
  • In 2015, the Andaman and Nicobar Administration said it has no intention of interfering with their lifestyle, pursuing further contact with them or enforce law there.
  • The Navy has a 3 mile buffer zone to keep tourists and explorers away from the island.

 

Have outsiders ever visited North Sentinel Island?

  • In the 1800s, the British ‘Officer in Charge of the Andamanese’, MV Portman landed on the North Sentinel Island, in hope of establishing contact with the Sentinelese.
  • The party found ‘abandoned’ villages and some children, who they took back to Port Blair ‘in the interest of science’. The children were eventually returned to the island with some gifts.
  • Between 1970-96 Indian authorities and even a National Geographic documentary team attempted trips to the North Sentinel Island to befriend the tribe.
  • These visits received responses that varied from friendly to hostile.
  • After the Indonesia tsunami in 2004, Indian government sent a helicopter to drop food and other supplies to the Sentinelese, assuming they needed relief. The tribe refused aid and even attempted to attack the helicopter.

 

How are they protected?

  • The Govt. of India issued the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956 to declare the traditional areas occupied by the tribes as reserves, and prohibited entry of all persons except those with authorization.
  • Photographing or filming the tribe members is also an offence.
  • The rules were amended later to enhance penalties. But restricted area permits were relaxed for some islands recently.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to Sentinelese, which of the following statements are correct

  1. The Sentinelese, a negrito tribe who live on the south Sentinel Island of the Andamans
  2. Their inhabitants are connected to the Jarawa on the basis of physical, as well as linguistic similarities.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: b) 2 only

 


 

Topic: Union HRD Minister launches ‘Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC)’Program

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance

 

IIC Program

Why in news?

Recently Union HRD Minister through video conferencing launched the ‘Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC) program under Innovation cellof MHRD in New Delhi.

 

More about on news:

  • Resource Development has established an “Innovation cell” at AICTE with a purpose to systematically foster the culture of Innovation in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country.
  • It is a significant step in institutionalizing innovation and developing a scientific temperament in the country.
  • Universities are the main research centers of developed countries and because of their research they are at the top in global innovation ranking.
  • that the educational advancement in higher education can only be achieved by encouraging best practices in innovation and advance research and Innovation Cell has undertaken many initiatives in this direction such as implementing programs like Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievement (ARIIA), Smart India Hackathon (SIH)- 2019, etc.
  • The officials of MHRD and AICTE to bring out this program which will contribute in the holistic development of education in the country.

 

Key findings:

  • More than 1000 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have already formed IICs in their campuses and enrolled for the IIC network managed by MHRD’s Innovation cell to promote innovation through multitudinous modes leading to an innovation promotion eco-system in their campuses.
  • Now, Indian universities are also setting up research centers through the Institution’s Innovation Council programme.
  • Through this initiative, India hopes to get a good rank in global innovation ranking in the next 2-3 years.

 

Objective:

The purpose of formation of network of Institution’s Innovation Councils (IICs) is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC)’Program.

  1. Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC) program lauched NITI Aayog.
  2. It is a significant step in institutionalizing innovation and developing a scientific temperament in the country
  3. Its main objective is systematically foster the culture of Innovation in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a). 1 and 3 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 1 and 2 only

d). All of the above

Answer: b) 2 and 3 only

 


 

Topic: Sangai Festival begins in Manipur

Topic in Syllabus: Art and Culture

 

Sangai Festival Manipur

Why in news?

Sangai Festival is an annual cultural extravaganza in Manipur. Every year the Government of Manipur, headed by the Tourism Department, celebrates the Sangai Festival.

The 10-day Sangai Festival showcasing Manipur’s rich cultur heritage, adventure activities and an array of mouth-waterin cuisines began in three districts of the state.

 

More about on festival:

  • The Festival strives to showcase and promote the best of what the state has to offer to the world in terms of art and culture, handloom, handicrafts & fine arts, indigenous sports, cuisines & music, eco & adventure sports as well as the scenic natural beauty of the land.
  • The Festival has assumed great significance in recent years and every edition essential celebrates ethnic diversity of Manipur Society.
  • Participation of various Indian States, foreign traders and cultural troupes in the Festival this year will make it grander in scale and style.
  • Further many entertaining items like Fashion Shows, Rock Shows, etc.
  • The Festival is the right venue for innovative people with innovative ideas meet on a common platform.

 

Background:

This festival had been celebrated over the past few years with the name of Tourism Festival, since 2010 the Manipur Tourism Festival has been renamed as the Sangai Festival. The beautiful North Eastern State is celebrated during the festival. Celebrate the geography, the history, wildlife, heritage, and culture.

 

Sangai Deer:

  • The sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur, India.
  • The brow-antlered deer or the dancing deer is found in its natural habitat only at Keibul Lamjao National Park over the floating biomass locally called “phumdi” in the south eastern part of Loktak Lake.
  • Phumdis are the floating mass of entangled vegetation formed by the accumulation of organic debris and biomass with soil. Its thickness varies from few centimeters to two meters.
  • The humus of phumdi is black in color and very spongy with large number of pores. It floats with 4/5 part under water.
  • IUCN status: Endangered.

 

Sample Question:

The famous Sangai Festival is every year celebrated by

a). Arunachal Pradesh

b). Assam

c). Manipur

d). Meghalaya

Answer: c)

 


 

Topic: Implementation of the umbrella scheme “Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services ACROSS Scheme

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography

ACROSS Scheme

 

Why in news?

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister has approved continuation of the nine sub-schemes of the umbrella scheme “Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS)”.

 

More about on scheme:

  • ACROSS scheme pertains to the atmospheric science programs of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and addresses different aspects of weather and climate services, which includes warnings for cyclone, storm surges, heat waves, thunderstorms etc.
  • Each of these aspects is incorporated as nine sub-schemes under the umbrella scheme “ACROSS” and is implemented in an integrated manner through the aforesaid four institutes.
  • The ACROSS scheme consists of nine sub-programmes which are multi-disciplinary and multi institutional in nature and will be implemented in an integrated manner through IMD, HIM, NCMRWF and INCOIS.
  • It will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences through its institutes namely India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service(INCOIS).

 

Objective:

  • The ACROSS scheme is to provide a reliable weather and climate forecast for betterment of society.
  • the scheme will aim at improving skill of weather and climate forecast through sustained observations, intensive R & D, and by adopting effective dissemination and communication strategies to ensure its timely reach to the end-user of all services like Agro-meteorological Services, Aviation service, Environmental monitoring services, Hydro-meteorological services, climate services, tourism, pilgrimage, mountaineering etc.

 

Benefits:

  • The scheme  will   provide  improved  weather,   climate  and   ocean   forecast  and services, thereby ensuring transfer of commensurate benefits to the various services
  • A sizable number of scientific and technical staff along with requisite administrative support, thereby generating employment.
  • To ensure last-mile connectivity of the weather based services to the end -user, a large number of agencies like the Krishi Vigyana Kendras of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Universities and local municipalities are roped in thus generating employment opportunities to many people.

 

Background:

  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences has a mandate to carry out research and development activities to develop and improve capability to forecast weather, climate and natural hazard related phenomena.
  • MoES has taken several initiatives to formulate specific schemes like augmentation of observing systems and infrastructure, understanding processes through special campaigns, weather and climate modelling, monsoon-research, climate change science & climate services etc.
  • These schemes involve multi-institutes wherein each unit has a designated role for accomplishing the aforesaid tasks.
  • As a result, all these schemes with specific objectives and budget are implemented in an integrated manner and are put together under the umbrella scheme “ACROSS”.

 

Sample Question:

With respect to ACROSS scheme, consider the following statements

  1. ACROSS scheme pertains to the atmospheric science programs of the India Meteorological Department.
  2. The ACROSS scheme is to provide a reliable weather and climate forecast for betterment of society.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: b) 2 only

 


 

Topic: Cabinet approves the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society – Health Care

Allied and Healthcare Professional Bill

 

Why in news?

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 for regulation and standardization of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals.

 

Background:

  • In the current state of healthcare system, there exist many allied and healthcare professionals, who remain unidentified, unregulated and underutilised.
  • Our system is highly focused on efforts towards strengthening limited categories of professionals such as doctors, nurses and frontline workers (like Accredited Social Health Activist or ASHAs, Auxiliary Nurse Midwife or ANMs).
  • Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) constitute an important element of the health human resource network, and the skilled and efficient Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) can reduce the cost of care and dramatically improve the accessibility to quality driven healthcare services.
  • Globally, Allied and Healthcare Professionals typically attend undergraduate degree programme of a minimum of three to four years to begin with and may attain up to PhD level qualification in their respective streams.
  • Majority of the countries worldwide, have a statutory licensing or regulatory body that is authorised to license and certify the qualifications and competence of such professionals, particularly those involved in direct patient care (such as physiotherapist, nutritionist etc.) or those whose occupation impact patient care directly (such as lab technologists, dosimetrists etc.).
  • Though such professionals have existed in the Indian healthcare system for many decades, a considerable gap in the allied and healthcare space is because of a lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework and absence of standards for education and training of A&HPs.

 

More about on bill:

  • The Bill provides for setting up of an Allied and Healthcare Council of India and corresponding State allied and Healthcare Councils which will play the role of a standard-setter and facilitator for professions of Allied and Healthcare.
  • Establishment of a Central and corresponding State Allied and Healthcare Councils; 15 major professional categories including 53 professions in Allied and Healthcare streams.
  • The Bill provides for Structure, Constitution, Composition and Functions of the Central Council and State Councils, g.   Framing policies and standards, Regulation of professional conduct, Creation and maintenance of live Registers, provisions for common entry and exit examinations, etc.
  • The Central Council will comprise 47 members, of which 14 members shall be ex-officio representing diverse and related roles and functions and remaining 33 shall be non-ex-officio members who mainly represent the 15professional categories.
  • The State Councils are also envisioned to mirror the Central Council, comprising 7 ex-officio and 21 non-ex officio members and Chairperson tobe elected from amongst the non-ex officio members.
  • Professional Advisory Bodies under Central and State Councils will examine issues independently and provide recommendations relating to specific recognized categories.
  • The Bill will also have an overriding effect on any other existing law for any of the covered professions.
  • Offences and Penalties clause have been included in the Bill to check mal­practices.
  • The Bill also empowers the Central and State Governments to make rules.
  • Central Govt. also has the power to issue directions to the Council, to make regulations and to add or amend the schedule.

 

Targets:

  • An Interim Council will be constituted within 6 months of passing of the Act holding charge for a period of two years until the establishment of the Central Council.
  • The Council at the Centre and the States are to be established as body corporate with a provision to receive funds from various sources.
  • Councils will also be supported by Central and State Governments respectively through Grant-in-aid as needed. However, if the StateGovernment expresses inability, the Central Government may release some grant for initial years to the State Council.

 

Major Impacts:

  • Bring all existing allied and healthcare professionals on board during the first few of years from the date of establishment of the Council.
  • Opportunity to create qualified, highly skilled and competent jobs in healthcare by enabling professionalism of the allied and healthcare workforce.
  • High quality, multi-disciplinary care in line with the vision of AyushmanBharat, moving away from a ‘doctor led’ model to a ‘care accessible and team based’ model.
  • Opportunity to cater to the global demand (shortage) of health care workforce which is projected to be about 15 million by the year 2030, as per the WHO Global Workforce, 2030 report.

 

Beneficiaries:

  • It is estimated that the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 will directly benefit around 8-9 Lakh existing Allied and Healthcare related professionals in the country and several other graduating professionals joining workforce annually and contributing to the health system.
  • Since this Bill is directed to strengthen the healthcare delivery system at large, it may be said that the entire population of the country and the health sector as a whole will be benefited by this Bill.
  • Total cost implication is expected to be Rupees 95 crores for the first four years. About four-fifth of the total budget (i.e. Rupees 75 crores) is being earmarked for the States while the remaining fund will support the Central Council operations for 4 years and also establish the Central and State Registers.

 

Conclusion:

The Bill thus seeks to establish a robust regulatory framework which will play the role of a standard-setter and regulator for Allied and Healthcare professions.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the following statements are correct with respect to the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018.

  1. The Bill provides for setting up of an Allied and Healthcare Council of India
  2. The Bill empowers the Central government only to make rules.
  3. Professional Advisory Bodies under Central and State Councils will examine issues independently and provide recommendations relating to specific recognized categories.

Choose the correct answer from the above statements

a). 1 only

b). 1 and 2 only

c). 1 and 3 only

d). All of the above

Answer: c) 1 and 3 only

 


 

Topic: SHe-Box to be linked to all Central, State departments

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society : Women Issues

SHe-Box

 

Why in news?

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has linked SHe-Box, the online portal to report complaints of Sexual Harassment at Workplace, to all the Central Ministries, Departments and 653 districts across 33 States/Union Territories.

 

More about on news:

  • The development comes even as an RTI response has revealed that in about 70 per cent complaints received by the Ministry there has been no action.
  • For prompt disposal of complaints on SHe-Box, each case goes directly to the central/ state authority concerned having jurisdiction to take action in the matter.
  • Cases on She-Box can be monitored by the complainants and Ministry WCD, reducing the time taken in case disposal.
  • Till November 20, 2018, as many as 321 complaints have been registered with ‘SHe-Box’ out of which 120 are related to central ministries/departments, 58 are from state governments and 143 are from private companies.
  • The Ministry has also published a Handbook and Training Module on the SH Act to provide information about the provisions of the Act in easy to use practical manner.
  • The private organizations are encouraged to customize the Training Module as per their extant service rules and disciplinary procedures prescribed therein.

 

SHe-Box:

  • SHe-Box portal is an effort to provide speedy remedy to women facing sexual harassment at workplace.
  • The new SHe-Box portal offers the facility of making online complaints of sexual harassment at workplace to all women employees in the country including government and private employees.
  • Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the ICC/LCC of the concerned employer.
  • Through this portal, WCD as well as complainant can monitor the progress of inquiry conducted by the ICC/LCC.
  • This is a proactive step taken by MWCD in the wake of the worldwide social media campaign #MeToo, where women have related their experience of facing sexual harassment and abuse.
  • The portal also provides information on 112 institutions empaneled by MWCD to conduct training/workshops on the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • Those who have already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) or Local Complaint Committee (LCC) constituted under the Sexual Harassment Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal.

 

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to She- Box

  1. She- Box is an online complaint management system for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace.
  2. It was launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: c) both 1 and 2

 


 

Topic: NASA’s InSight spacecraft lands on red planet after six-month journey

Topic in Syllabus: Science and Technology

NASA Spacecraft lands on Red Planet

 

Why in news?

A NASA spacecraft designed to drill down into Mars’ interior landed on the planet recently after a perilous, supersonic plunge through its red skies, setting off jubilation among scientists who had waited in white-knuckle suspense for confirmation to arrive across 100 million miles of space.

 

More about on news:

  • A NASA spacecraft designed to burrow beneath the surface of Mars landed on the red planet after a six-month, 300 million-mile (482 million-kilometre) journey and a perilous, six-minute descent through the rose-hued atmosphere.
  • The InSight probe aims to study the world’s deep interior, and make it the only planet – apart from Earth – that has been examined in this way.
  • InSight is now sitting on a vast, flat plain known as Elysium Planitia, close to the Red Planet’s equator.
  • The first picture of this landscape came back very quickly, within minutes. It showed a smudged, fisheye view of the robot’s surroundings.
  • The plan called for the spacecraft to go from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to zero in six minutes flat as it pierced the Martian atmosphere and settled on the surface.
  • It was NASA’s ninth attempt to land at Mars since the 1976 Viking probes. All but one of the previous U.S. touchdowns were successful.

 

About InSight mission:

  • InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • The three-legged InSight spacecraft reached the surface after being slowed by a parachute and braking engines.
  • NASA last landed on Mars in 2012 with the Curiosity rover.
  • InSight has no life-detecting capability, however. That will be left to future rovers.

 

What is different about the InSight mission?

  • This will be the first probe to dedicate its investigations to understanding Mars’ interior.
  • Scientists want to know how the world is constructed – from its core to its crust. InSight has three principal experiments to achieve this goal.
  • The first is a package of Franco-British seismometers that will be lifted on to the surface to listen for “Marsquakes”. These vibrations will reveal where the rock layers are and what they are made of.
  • A German-led “mole” system will borrow up to 5m into the ground to take the planet’s temperature. This will give a sense of how active Mars still is.
  • The third experiment will use radio transmissions to very precisely determine how the planet is wobbling on its axis.

 

Benefits:

  • By examining the interior of Mars, scientists hope to understand how our solar system’s rocky planets formed 4.5 billion years ago.
  • It would try to justify that why they turned out so different i.e.Mars cold and dry, Venus and Mercury burning hot, and Earth hospitable to life.
  • NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will collect rocks that will eventually be brought back to Earth and analysed for evidence of ancient life.

The InSight Lander

Sample Question:

Which of the followings are correct with respect to InSight mission

  1. InSight has life-detecting capability.
  2. This will be the first probe to dedicate its investigations to understanding Mars’ interior.
  3. The InSight probe aims to study the world’s deep interior, and make it the only planet – apart from Earth – that has been examined in this way.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a. 1 and 3 only

b. 1 and 2 only

c. 2 and 3 only

d. All of the above

Answer: c) 2 and 3 only