Insights Daily Current Affairs, 07 March 2018

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 07 March 2018


 

Paper 2:

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Animal Welfare Board of India

Context: The headquarters of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has been shifted from Chennai to Haryana’s Ballabhgarh for “better coordination” between the environment ministry and the board.

Rule 3 of the Animal Welfare Board (Administrative) Rules, 1962 reads as — ‘The Headquarter of the Board hall be at New Delhi or at such other place as the central government’.

 

About Animal Welfare Board of India:

Established in 1962 under Section 4 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960, the Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory advisory body advising the Government of India on animal welfare laws, and promotes animal welfare in the country of India. Animal Welfare Board of India was started under the stewardship of Late Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale, well known humanitarian.

  • The Board was initially within the jurisdiction of the Government of India’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture. In 1990, the subject of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was transferred to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, where it now resides.
  • The Board consists of 28 Members, who serve for a period of 3 years.
  • It works to ensure that animal welfare laws in the country are followed and provides grants to Animal Welfare Organisations. The Board oversees Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs) by granting recognition to them if they meet its guidelines.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims and Mains: Key features of AWBI and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

GM soybean

Context: The Union environment ministry has asked the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to stop imports of genetically modified (GM) soybean for food or feed without the approval of the regulator for transgenic products.

GEAC, which is the regulatory body for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and products thereof, has not authorized or approved GM soybean or any other products derived from GM soybean seeds for import or cultivation in India.

 

GM foods in India:

The issue of GM foods has been controversial in India, with cotton being the only transgenic crop which is allowed to be cultivated. The environment ministry is yet to take a final call on allowing the commercial cultivation of GM mustard.

 

GM Soybean:

GM soybean is one of the most widely planted genetically modified plants in the world today. The GM soybean, otherwise called as the Roundup Ready (RR) soybean, was developed by the biotech giant Monsanto and made it commercially available to farmers in 1996. It was developed to make the plant survive being sprayed on with the non-selective herbicide, Roundup, which can kill conventional soybean plants.

GM Soybean was developed by introducing a copy of a gene from the Agrobacterium sp. strain CP4. Conventional soybean has a similar gene in its DNA but is sensitive to glyphosate, the active ingredient of the herbicide Roundup. With the insertion of the CP4 version of the gene, the GM soybean was able to develop resistance to the Roundup herbicide.

 

About GEAC:

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body constituted in the Ministry of Environment and Forests under ‘Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989’, under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

The GEAC is responsible for approval of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimen­tal field trials (Biosafety Research Level trial-I and II known as BRL-I and BRL-II).

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: GM foods, GEAC and Environment Protection Act.
  • For Mains: GM crops- Need, concerns, benefits and challenges.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

IMPRINT-II

Context: In a major boost for research and innovation in the country, the Central Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 1000 crore for the phase two of the Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India programme.

  • Under the IMPRINT-II, a fund is being created by the Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Human Resource Development together, in which participation will come from industry and other interested Ministries. The project will be run as a separate vertical in coordination with the DST.

 

About IMPRINT India:

The initiative, ‘IMPRINT India’, is a pan-IIT and IISc joint collaboration to develop a blueprint for research of immediate relevance to society requiring innovation, direct scientific research into identified areas, ensure higher funding support for research into these areas and measure outcomes of the research efforts with reference to the impact on the standard of living in rural/urban areas.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: IMPRINT India.
  • For Mains: Need for research and innovation in the country.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Context: India has got the go-ahead to join the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Shareholders of EBRD have given their consent in this regard. 

Now, India will become EBRD’s 69th member, enabling Indian companies to undertake joint investments in regions in which the EBRD operates.

 

How will this membership help India?

  • Membership of EBRD would enhance India’s international profile and promote its economic interests. It will also give access to EBRD’s Countries of Operation and sector knowledge.
  • India’s investment opportunities would get a boost. It would increase the scope of cooperation between India and EBRD through co-financing opportunities in manufacturing, services, Information Technology, and Energy.
  • EBRD’s core operations pertain to private sector development in their countries of operation. The membership would help India leverage the technical assistance and sectoral knowledge of the bank for the benefit of development of private sector.
  • This would contribute to an improved investment climate in the country. The membership of EBRD would enhance the competitive strength of the Indian firms, and provide an enhanced access to international markets in terms of business opportunities, procurement activities, consultancy assignments etc.
  • This would open up new vistas for Indian professionals on the one hand, and give a fillip to Indian exports on the other. Increased economic activities would have the employment generating potential. It would also enable Indian nationals to get the employment opportunity in the Bank.

 

About EBRD:

What is the EBRD?

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is an international financial institution that supports projects in over 30 countries, from eastern Europe to central Asia and the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Investing primarily in private sector clients whose needs cannot be fully met by the market, the EBRD promotes entrepreneurship and fosters transition towards open and democratic market economies.

 

What is the EBRD’s mandate?

The mandate of the EBRD stipulates that it must only work in countries that are committed to democratic principles. Respect for the environment is part of the strong corporate governance attached to all EBRD investments.

 

What support does the EBRD provide in the countries where it works?

The EBRD provides project financing for banks, industries and businesses, both new ventures and investments in existing companies. It also works with publicly owned companies, to support privatisation, restructuring state-owned firms and improving municipal services. It uses close relationship with governments in the region to promote policies that will bolster the business environment.

 

Who owns the EBRD?

The EBRD is owned by 65 countries and two intergovernmental institutions: the European Union and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

 

How is the EBRD governed?

The powers of the EBRD are vested in the Board of Governors to which each member appoints a governor, generally the minister of finance. The Board of Governors delegates most powers to the Board of Directors, which is responsible for the EBRD’s strategic direction. The President is elected by the Board of Governors and is the legal representative of the EBRD. Under the guidance of the Board of Directors, the President manages the EBRD’s work.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: EBRD.
  • For Mains: Benefits of EBRD’s membership for India.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3:

Topic: Infrastructure- roadways.

 

Sukhad Yatra App

 

Context: The government has launched Sukhad Yatra App.

 

About Sukhad Yatra App:

  • Sukhad Yatra mobile application has been prepared by National Highways Authority of India, NHAI, to empower the Highway user.
  • The key feature of the app includes provision for the user to enter road quality-related information or to report any accident or pothole on the highway.
  • It also provides users with real-time data related to waiting time expected at Plazas and various facilities like points of interest, highway nest/nest mini, etc., available across the highway.
  • The app can also be used by the users to purchase the FASTag tag and further facilitate the highway user experience.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology.

 

GBI submarine cable

Context: Telecom major Bharti Airtel has acquired India leg of Gulf Bridge International submarine cable which will boost its data carrying capacity.

Under the agreement, Airtel will acquire the ownership of the India leg of GBI’s India-Middle East-Europe submarine cable. Airtel will also pick up a significant capacity on Middle East-Europe leg of GBI’s cable system.

 

About GBI:

The GBI (Gulf Bridge International) is a private submarine cable system connecting the Gulf countries together and provide onward connectivity to the rest of the world. The GBI Cable System was launched in Feb. 2012, connecting the world to the Gulf.

  • The GBI Cable System is designed with a self-healing core ring in the Gulf, with double cable landings at the major terminals of Qatar and Fujairah (UAE) and branched landings in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Oman, and onward connectivity to landing in India and Europe as well.
  • The GBI Cable System is privately owned by Gulf Bridge International, established in December 2008 with an initial investment of $445 million.

 

What’s important?

  • For Prelims: GBI cable system.
  • For Mains: Significance of submarine cable system.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology.

 

Rare mineral discovered in plants for first time

Context: Scientists have found that the mineral vaterite, a form (polymorph) of calcium carbonate, is a dominant component of the protective silvery-white crust that forms on the leaves of a number of alpine plants.

 

Significance of this discovery:

Naturally occurring vaterite is rarely found on Earth. Small amounts of vaterite crystals have been found in some sea and freshwater crustaceans, bird eggs, the inner ears of salmon, meteorites and rocks. This is the first time that the rare and unstable mineral has been found in such a large quantity and the first time it has been found to be associated with plants.

 

About Vaterite:

Vaterite is a mineral, a polymorph of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). It was named after the German mineralogist Heinrich Vater. It is also known as mu-calcium carbonate. Vaterite was often associated with outer space and had been detected in planetary objects in the Solar System and meteorites: Vaterite is not very stable in the Earth’s humid atmosphere as it often reverts to more common forms of calcium carbonate, such as calcite.

 

Potential uses of vaterite:

Vaterite has special properties that make it a potentially superior carrier for medications due to its high loading capacity, high uptake by cells and its solubility properties that enable it to deliver a sustained and targeted release of therapeutic medicines to patients.

Other potential uses of vaterite include improving the cements used in orthopaedic surgery and as an industrial application improving the quality of papers for inkjet printing by reducing the lateral spread of ink.

 

Sources: et.

 

 


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

Sri Lanka declares state of emergency:

Context: Sri Lanka has imposed a nationwide state of emergency for the first time since the civil war era in response to days of violent unrest between Sinhalese and Muslim communities. The special measures permitting soldiers to be deployed in civilian areas will initially apply for 10 days, at which point the deployment would need to be ratified by parliament.

Sinhalese: They are an Indo-Aryan-speaking ethnic group native to the island of Sri Lanka. They constitute about 75% of the Sri Lankan population. The Sinhalese people speak the Sinhalese language, an Indo-Aryan language, and are predominantly Theravada Buddhists, although a small percentage of Sinhalese follow branches of Christianity.

Origin: According to the 5th century epic poem Mahavamsa, and the Dipavamsa, a 3-5th century treatise written in Pali by Buddhist monks of the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya in Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese are descendants of settlers who came to the island in 543 BCE from Sinhapura in India, led by Prince Vijaya.

 

Airports Council International (ACI) – ASQ 2017 rankings:

 

  • Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport has been rated as the world number one among airports handling more than 40 million passengers per annum in a survey by the Airports Council International (ACI).
  • Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport has been ranked as the World’s Best Airport for customer experience.
  • About ACI: ACI is a trade association of 1,953 member airports across 176 countries. As part of its survey on Airport Service Quality, views of passengers on 34 key performance indicators are measured. Nearly 74% of the world’s top 100 busiest airports are part of the ASQ network.
  • Last year, in Airport Service Quality by ACI, South Korea’s Seoul Incheon was ranked number one, followed by Delhi, Mumbai, Singapore in second position and Beijing, Haikou in third position.

 

SpaceX Landmark 50th Falcon 9 Flight:

Context: SpaceX has successfully launched a Spanish communications satellite- Hispasat, on the landmark 50th flight of the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.

Falcon 9: Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. Falcon 9 is the first orbital class rocket capable of reflight.