Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 22 June 2019
Relevant articles from PIB:
- economics of animal-rearing.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Rashtriya Gokul Mission – features and significance, significance of the dairy sector.
Context: Funds have been mobilized under Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM) for setting up of 21 Gokul Grams as Integrated Cattle Development Centres.
About Rashtriya Gokul Mission:
To conserve and develop indigenous bovine breeds, government has launched ‘Rashtriya Gokul Mission’ under the National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development (NPBBD).
The Mission is being implemented with the objectives to: a) development and conservation of indigenous breeds b) undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock; c) enhance milk production and productivity; d) upgrade nondescript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi and e) distribute disease free high genetic merit bulls for natural service.
Rashtriya Gokul Mission will be implemented through the “State Implementing Agency (SIA viz Livestock Development Boards). State Gauseva Ayogs will be given the mandate to sponsor proposals to the SIA’s (LDB’s) and monitor implementation of the sponsored proposal. All Agencies having a role in indigenous cattle development will be the “Participating Agencies” like CFSPTI, CCBFs, ICAR, Universities, Colleges, NGO’s, Cooperative Societies and Gaushalas with best germplasm.
- Funds under the scheme will be allocated for the establishment of Integrated Indigenous Cattle Centres viz “Gokul Gram”.
- Gokul Grams will be established in:i) the native breeding tracts and ii) near metropolitan cities for housing the urban cattle.
- Gokul Gram will act as Centres for development of Indigenous Breeds and a dependable source for supply of high genetic breeding stock to the farmers in the breeding tract.
- The Gokul Gram will be self sustaining and will generate economic resources from sale of A2 milk (A2 milkis cow’s milk that mostly lacks a form of β-casein proteins called A1 and instead has mostly the A2 form), organic manure, vermi-composting, urine distillates, and production of electricity from bio gas for in house consumption and sale of animal products.
- The Gokul Gram will also function as state of the art in situ training centre for Farmers, Breeders and MAITRI’s.
- The Gokul Gram will maintain milch and unproductive animals in the ratio of 60:40and will have the capacity to maintain about 1000 animals. Nutritional requirements of the animals will be provided in the Gokul Gram through in house fodder production.
- Gokul Gram will also be set up near to metropolitan cities for managing urban cattle. Metropolitan Gokul Gram will focus on genetic upgradation of urban cattle.
- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance, applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: NAA- establishment, composition, functions and significance.
Context: The tenure of National Anti-Profiteering Authority has been extended by 2 years.
The National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) has been constituted under Section 171 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.
It is to ensure the reduction in rate of tax or the benefit of input tax credit is passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices.
The Authority’s core function is to ensure that the benefits of the reduction is GST rates on goods and services made by GST Council and proportional change in the Input tax credit passed on to the ultimate consumers and recipient respectively by way of reduction in the prices by the suppliers.
The National Anti-profiteering Authority shall be headed by a senior officer of the level of a Secretary to the Government of India and shall have four technical members from the Centre and/or the States.
Powers and functions of the authority:
- In the event the National Anti-profiteering Authority confirms the necessity of applying anti-profiteering measures, it has the power to order the business concerned to reduce its prices or return the undue benefit availed along with interest to the recipient of the goods or services.
- If the undue benefit cannot be passed on to the recipient, it can be ordered to be deposited in the Consumer Welfare Fund.
- In extreme cases the National Anti-profiteering Authority can impose a penalty on the defaulting business entity and even order the cancellation of its registration under GST.
Relevant articles from various news sources:
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: ICAO- composition, roles, functions and significance.
Context: Senior bureaucrat Shefali Juneja was appointed as representative of India in council of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Montreal, Canada.
What is it?
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a UN specialized agency, established by States in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).
What it does?
- ICAO works with the Convention’s 193 Member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.
- These SARPs and policies are used by ICAO Member States to ensure that their local civil aviation operations and regulations conform to global norms, which in turn permits more than 100,000 daily flights in aviation’s global network to operate safely and reliably in every region of the world.
- ICAO also coordinates assistance and capacity building for States in support of numerous aviation development objectives; produces global plans to coordinate multilateral strategic progress for safety and air navigation; monitors and reports on numerous air transport sector performance metrics; and audits States’ civil aviation oversight capabilities in the areas of safety and security.
Convention on International Civil Aviation (also known as Chicago Convention), was signed on 7 December 1944 by 52 States.
Pending ratification of the Convention by 26 States, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was established.
It functioned from 6 June 1945 until 4 April 1947. By 5 March 1947 the 26th ratification was received. ICAO came into being on 4 April 1947. In October of the same year, ICAO became a specialized agency of the United Nations linked to Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The Convention establishes rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety, and details the rights of the signatories in relation to air travel. The Convention also exempts air fuels in transit from (double) taxation.
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: what is superconductivity, meaning, features, challenges and significance of the new breakthrough.
Context: IISc researchers have reported superconductivity at room temperature. Their finding, now under review, will be a breakthrough if verified.
Superconductivity is a phenomenon that, so far, has been possible only at extremely low temperatures, in the range of 100°C below zero. The search for a material that exhibits superconductivity at room temperature, or at least manageable low temperatures, has been going on for decades, without success. If the claimed discovery were confirmed, it could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in physics in this century so far.
What is superconductivity?
It is a state in which a material shows absolutely zero electrical resistance. While resistance is a property that restricts the flow of electricity, superconductivity allows unhindered flow.
In a superconducting state, the material offers no resistance at all. All the electrons align themselves in a particular direction, and move without any obstruction in a “coherent” manner.
Because of zero resistance, superconducting materials can save huge amounts of energy, and be used to make highly efficient electrical appliances.
Two fundamental properties of a superconductor:
- Zero resistance to electrical current.
Diamagnetism is a property opposite to normal magnetism that we are used to. A diamagnetic substance repels an external magnetic field, in sharp contrast to normal magnetism, or ferromagnetism, under which a substance is attracted by an external magnetic field.
How rare is this?
The problem is that superconductivity, ever since it was first discovered in 1911, has only been observed at very low temperatures, somewhere close to what is called absolute zero (0°K or -273.15°C). In recent years, scientists have been able to find superconductive materials at temperatures that are higher than absolute zero but, in most cases, these temperatures are still below -100°C and the pressures required are extreme. Creating such extreme conditions of temperature and pressure is a difficult task.
Therefore, the applications of superconducting materials have remained limited as of now.
Sources: Indian express.
- Issues related to health.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: features and significance of the initiative.
Context: Four countries from Asia — China, Iran, Malaysia and Timor-Leste — and one from Central America — El Salvador — reported no indigenous cases of malaria in 2018, according to the World Health Organzation (WHO).
The countries were part of the global health body’s E-2020 initiative, launched in 2016, working in 21 countries, spanning five regions, to scale up efforts to achieve malaria elimination by 2020.
What is the E-2020 initiative?
In May 2015, the World Health Assembly endorsed a new Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030, setting ambitious goals aimed at dramatically lowering the global malaria burden over this 15-year period, with milestones along the way to track progress. A key milestone for 2020 is the elimination of malaria in at least 10 countries that had the disease in 2015. To meet this target, countries must report zero indigenous cases in 2020.
According to a WHO analysis published in 2016, 21 countries have the potential to eliminate malaria by 2020. They were selected based on an analysis that looked at the likelihood of elimination across 3 key criteria:
- trends in malaria case incidence between 2000 and 2014;
- declared malaria objectives of affected countries; and
- informed opinions of WHO experts in the field.
Together, these 21 malaria-eliminating countries are part of a concerted effort known as the E-2020 initiative, supported by WHO and other partners, to eliminate malaria in an ambitious but technically feasible time frame.
Malaria and concerns for India:
- Contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito, malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers. It accounted for an estimated 219 million cases from 87 countries and over 400,000 related deaths in 2017.
- Over 60 per cent of fatalities were among children under five years, and caused 266,000 of all malaria deaths worldwide.
- India (4 per cent) was among the five countries, the others being — Nigeria (25 per cent), Democratic Republic of the Congo (11 per cent), Mozambique (5 per cent), and Uganda (4 per cent) — that accounted for nearly 50 per cent of all malaria cases worldwide.
- The country was also among the 11 countries — 10 in Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania) — that reported approximately 70 per cent of all malaria cases (151 million) and deaths (274,000).
- Among these countries, only India reported progress in reducing its malaria cases in 2017 (24 per cent reduction in cases) compared to 2016, according to the report.
Sources: down to earth.
Facts for prelims:
Context: Researchers have developed a novel translucent nail lacquer- antifungal Bilayer Nail Lacquer (BNL)- fortified with an antifungal drug to treat onychomycosis. The drug-infused, quick-drying polymer can be easily applied like nail polish.
Background: A fungus, Trichophyton rubrum, causes painful infection of toe and fingernails. Prevalent in coastal regions and wet work zones, the infection known as Onychomycosis accounts for about half of all nail diseases. It causes brittleness, discolouration and disfigurement of nails.
Treatment: The disease needs prolonged treatment with both oral medication and application of ointments, which are both expensive and have side effects.
Bihar bans tree-felling:
Context: The Government of Bihar recently banned felling of trees, citing increasing pollution as well as a fatal heatwave. The order was passed under the Forest Conservation Act.
Trees on private land, however, can be felled in the absence of a tree-protection Act in Bihar.
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report:
Context: The U.S. State Department has released its 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
The report categorises countries into three groups based on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), U.S. legislation enacted in 2000. The categorisation is based on efforts to meet minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.
- India continued to be placed in Tier 2 on the 1-3 country trafficking scale.
- Tier 2 comprises “countries whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”
- The 2019 report highlights the national nature of trafficking: in 77% of the cases, victims are trafficked within their own countries of residence, rather than across borders. Victims of sex trafficking were more likely to be trafficked across borders while victims of forced labour were typically exploited within their own countries, the report says, citing International Labour Organisation (ILO) data.
The recommendations for India include amending the definition of trafficking in Section 370 of the Penal Code to “include forced labour trafficking and ensure that force, fraud, or coercion are not required to prove a child sex trafficking offence,” and to establish Anti-Human Trafficking Units in all districts with funding and clear mandates.
Summaries of important Editorials:
Facebook cryptocurrency: what it aims to be, why it has led to concern:
Context: There is a new cryptocurrency called Libra, announced by Facebook . While this signals Facebook’s plans to expand into the digital currency market, it has also raised privacy concerns.
How cryptocurrency works?
It is a virtual currency, which users buy and store in any of several available digital wallets, and use it for transactions on a decentralised network that is not controlled by one bank or a government.
Such a currency s powered by a technology called blockchain, which functions like an open ledger that gets updated in real time.
Each transaction on a blockchain network is preserved, and reversing it is impossible. Because data are encrypted, cryptocurrency is supposed to be secure and anonymous.
Is Libra different?
The values of most cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, tend to fluctuate against real currencies.
The plan is to ensure Libra is stable and give users confidence.
Libra will be backed by a reserve of assets designed to “give it intrinsic value” and ensure stability. These assets includes securities and fiat currencies (like dollar, pound).
The Libra model:
Libra will be controlled by the Libra Association, a non-profit based in Geneva.
Facebook will have a leadership role for 2019, but will later become one of many members of the association. Other prominent names backing Libra are Uber, Visa, Lyft, Mastercard, Paypal, and PayU from India.
The association has 28 members now and aims at 100 founding members by the first half of 2020.
Libra is planned as a “global currency” for use anywhere in the world without transaction fees. It will target those who are unbanked, who are believed to number around 1.7 billion across the world.
Cryptocurrencies allow anonymous funding potentially acting as conduits for money laundering and terror financing. As the number of users and transactions are increasing, the hackers are getting into the personal wallets or even to the entire transaction.
Fraudsters are finding new ways to deceive consumers and loot them.
The anonymity of cryptocurrency has made way for cybercriminals to hold victims hard drives hostage to extort payment from them in terms of bitcoins.
Since cryptocurrency is borderless, it can be really attractive for terrorist finances as they can transfer funds across countries in a cheap way.
Certain characteristics of cryptocurrency like speed, cost, security make it a lucrative source to finance such activities
Cryptocurrency is being used to fund child pornography, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking
Most new users know close to nothing of the technology, or how to verify the genuineness of a particular crypto currency.
Intense volatility of cryptocurrency.
Facebook’s entrance into the financial industry is a threat to democracies and their citizens around the world, on the same scale as disinformation and information warfare, which also depend on social media for their effectiveness.
In the wake of the not too distant global financial crisis, and the “fake news” and disinformation culture that is developing, people must slow down and fully evaluate disruptive technology of this magnitude. Society cannot withstand a launch of a cryptocurrency in Facebook’s infamous “move fast and break things” style.
Sources: Indian Express.