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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 23 May 2020

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) app.

2. China seeks India’s support for its new law.

3. WHO Executive Board.

4. What is the Open Skies treaty?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Beekeeping in India.

2. What is the SpaceX Demo-2 mission.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Manipur’s Khudol.

2. World Turtle Day 2020.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) app

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features, services and significance of the app.

What is it?

UMANG is a Government of India all-in-one single, unified, secure, multi-channel, multi-platform, multi-lingual, multi-service mobile app, powered by a robust back-end platform providing access to high impact services of various organization (Central and State).

  • Launched in 2017 to bring all government services on a single mobile app, with a larger goal to make the government services accessible on the mobile phone of our citizens.
  • About 660 services from 127 department & 25 states, including utility payments are live and more are in pipeline.

Why in News?

7 services hosted on IMD website have been onboarded to UMANG Application. These include:

  1. Current Weather.
  2. Nowcast- Three hourly warnings of localized weather phenomena.
  3. City Forecast.
  4. Rainfall information.
  5. Tourism Forecast.
  6. Warnings- It is colour coded in Red, Orange and yellow are the alert levels with Red as the most severe category.
  7. Cyclone

umang

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who developed UMANG app?
  2. What is colour coding of cyclone warnings?
  3. What is IMD?

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

China seeks India’s support for its new law

What to study?

For prelims: Geographical and political position of Hong Kong.

For mains: Controversy over the new bill, concerns expressed, key features of the bill and what needs to be done?

Context: China has sought the support and understanding of India and other countries for its controversial decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong.

 Background:

China said the new legislation is aimed at containing the “secessionist” forces in the former British colony who have posed a “grave threat” to the country’s national security and sovereignty.

China has also sent demarches to India and several other countries explaining the reason for the new draft legislation with a reminder that upholding national security” in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is “purely China’s internal affair and no foreign country may interfere in this matter”.

How is Hong Kong currently administered?

Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. It has observed a “one country, two systems” policy since Britain returned sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms the rest of China does not have.

What’s this One Country Two Systems approach?

As per the policy, the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions, both former colonies, can have different economic and political systems from that of mainland China, while being part of the People’s Republic of China. It was proposed by Deng Xiaoping with an aim to unify China and Taiwan.

  • On December 19, 1984, China and the U.K. signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration in Beijing, which set the terms for the autonomy and the legal, economic and governmental systems for Hong Kong post 1997.
  • Similarly, on March 26, 1987, China and Portugal signed the Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau in which China made similar promises for the region of Macau after it was handed over to Beijing.

hongkong

What’s happening now in Hong Kong?

Relentless agitation is carried out by the local Hong Kong people demanding political and administrative autonomy agreed by China when it took possession of the former British colony in 1997.

While the seven-month-long agitation last year in which millions took part subsided during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis from January to April, protesters returned to streets this month, with the pro-autonomy and pro-freedom legislators grappling with the security officials in local legislature protesting against the curbs.

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. Regions under the administrative control of China.
  2. Their geographical locations.
  3. Who pioneered one country two systems approach.
  4. Countries involved in South China Sea dispute.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

WHO Executive Board

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: executive board- composition and functions.

Context: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is set to take charge as chairman of the WHO Executive Board at its 147th session.

Vardhan would succeed Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan, currently the Chairman of the 34-member WHO Executive Board.

What is the WHO Executive Board?

It is one of the WHO’s two decision making bodies. The other one is the World Health Assembly. The agency’s headquarters are located at Geneva in Switzerland.

 Composition:

The executive Board is composed of 34 members technically qualified in the field of health.

The Board chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year by each of the WHO’s six regional groups: African Region, Region of the Americas, South-East Asia Region, European Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Western Pacific Region.

 Term:

Members are elected for three-year terms.

Functions:

  • Sets out agenda for the Health Assembly and resolutions for forwarding to the Assembly are adopted.
  • Gives effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly.
  • Advises it and facilitates its work.
  • The Board and the Assembly create a forum for debate on health issues and for addressing concerns raised by Member States.

Both the Board and the Assembly produce three kinds of documents — Resolutions and Decisions passed by the two bodies, Official Records as published in WHO Official publications, and Documents that are presented “in session” of the two bodies.

Key facts:

  • India became a party to the WHO Constitution on 12 January 1948.
  • The first Regional Director for South East Asia was an Indian, Dr Chandra Mani, who served between 1948-1968.
  • Since 2019, Dr Soumya Swaminathan has been the WHO’s Chief Scientist.

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. World Health Assembly- composition and functions.
  2. Regional bodies of WHO.
  3. Documents released by WHA and executive board.
  4. Chairmanship of EB.

Mains Link:

Discuss the composition and objectives of WHO executive board.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

What is the Open Skies treaty?

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features and overview of the treaty.

For Mains: significance of the treaty and why US is leaving?

Context: The Trump administration is expected to pull out of the “Open Skies” treaty.

What is the “Open Skies” treaty?

The treaty allows 34 countries to conduct unarmed surveillance flights over one another’s territories — including the US and Russia. It was signed in 1992 and went into effect in 2002.

Kyrgyzstan has signed, but not ratified the treaty.

Significance:

It was agreed just after the Cold War to allow signatories to avoid nasty surprises by monitoring rival militaries.

The treaty “was designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information through aerial imaging on military forces and activities of concern to them.”

Implementation of the treaty:

  1. The treaty makes it possible to conduct joint unarmed observation flights over the territories and to take images using sensors of a predefined resolution.
  2. And it also allows all signatories to request copies of all images taken during overflights carried out by others.
  3. Overflights are governed by quotas, negotiated annually and assigned to specific aircraft. The United States, for example, is allowed to operate Boeing OC-135 planes with infrared scanners.
  4. The country under surveillance is given 72 hours’ warning of a flight and 24 hours notice of the route, to which it can suggest modifications.
  5. The treaty lays down which air bases can be used for the flights and at which points they can cross into each other’s air space. Russia and the U.S. have four such bases each.
  6. A committee to oversee the implementation of the treaty meets in Vienna every month at the headquarters of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe.

Why does the US want to withdraw?

Moscow and Washington have long accused the other of breaching its terms. The US has in the past accused Moscow of imposing restrictions on flights near its exclave of Kaliningrad, an area between Poland and Lithuania where the Russian military maintains a robust presence.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Beekeeping in India

What to study?

For prelims: India’s rank in honey production, key recommendations.

For mains: Challenges faced by the industry and what needs to be done to realise the full potential of the industry.

Context: A webinar was conducted by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) on the theme “Sweet Revolution and Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.

The objective was to popularize scientific beekeeping as source of livelihood for landless rural poor, small and marginal famers to supplement agricultural income, as also as tool to enhance agriculture and horticulture production.

Efforts by the government:

  1. Government is promoting Beekeeping as part of its aim to double farmers’ income.
  2. The Government has allocated 500 crores towards Beekeeping under the Atma Nirbhar Abhiyan.
  3. National Bee Board has created four modules to impart training as part of the National Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM) and 30 lakh farmers have been trained in beekeeping. They are also being financially supported by the Government.
  4. The Government has launched ‘Honey Mission’ as part of ‘Sweet Revolution’.
  5. India is among the world’s top five honey producers.
  6. Compared to 2005-06 honey production has risen by 242% and exports shot by 265%.

Significance of Beekeeping:

As per Food and Agricultural Organization database, in 2017-18, India ranked eighth in the world in terms of honey production (64.9 thousand tonnes) while China stood first with a production level of 551 thousand tonnes.

Further, beekeeping can be an important contributor in achieving the 2022 target of doubling farmer incomes.

What needs to be done?

Expand the scope: Beekeeping cannot be restricted to honey and wax only, products such as pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom are also marketable and can greatly help Indian farmers.

Increase in area: Based on the area under cultivation in India and bee forage crops, India has a potential of about 200 million bee colonies as against 3.4 million bee colonies today. Increasing the number of bee colonies will not only increase the production of bee-related products but will boost overall agricultural and horticultural productivity.

Recommendations made by Beekeeping Development Committee under EAC-PM:

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister had set up a Beekeeping Development Committee under the Chairmanship of Professor Bibek Debroy.

BDC was constituted with the objective of identifying ways of advancing beekeeping in India, that can help in improving agricultural productivity, enhancing employment generation, augmenting nutritional security and sustaining biodiversity.

Some of the recommendations in the report include:

  1. Recognizing honeybees as inputs to agriculture and considering landless Beekeepers as farmers.
  2. Plantation of bee friendly flora at appropriate places and engaging women self-help groups in managing such plantations.
  3. Institutionalizing the National Bee Board and rechristening it as the Honey and Pollinators Board of India under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. Such a body would engage in advancing beekeeping through multiple mechanisms such as setting up of new Integrated Bee Development Centres, strengthening the existing ones, creating a honey price stabilization fund and collection of data on important aspects of apiculture.
  4. Recognition of apiculture as a subject for advanced research under the aegis of Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
  5. Training and development of beekeepers by state governments.
  6. Development of national and regional infrastructure for storage, processing and marketing of honey and other bee products.
  7. Simplifying procedures and specifying clear standards for ease of exporting honey and other bee products.

Sources: pib.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

What is the SpaceX Demo-2 mission?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Objectives and significance of the mission.

Context: On May 27, NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight will lift off for International Space Station (ISS), becoming the first crewed flight to launch from American soil since the conclusion of the space shuttle era in 2011.

What is the mission?

The Demo-2 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, and will fly two astronauts on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

This mission is essentially a flight test to certify if SpaceX’s crew transportation system can be used to ferry crew to and from the space station regularly.

This is the final flight test for the system and intends to validate its different components, including the spacecraft (Crew Dragon), the launch vehicle (Falcon 9), the launch pad (LC-39A) and the operations capabilities.

The Commercial Crew Program:

The main objective of this program is to make access to space easier in terms of its cost, so that cargo and crew can be easily transported to and from the ISS, enabling greater scientific research.

Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA in September 2014 to develop transportation systems meant to transfer crew from the US to the ISS.

Significance of the program and the need for private participation:

By encouraging private companies such as Boeing and SpaceX to provide crew transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA intends to focus on building spacecraft and rockets meant for deep space exploration missions.

InstaThink:

Prelims Link:

  1. NASA’s Commercial crew program- participants.
  2. Space shuttle program.
  3. Demo 1 vs 2 missions.
  4. What is ISS?
  5. Space stations so far.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for Prelims


Manipur’s Khudol:

Context: The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth has listed Manipur’s Khudol (gift) among the top 10 global initiatives for an inclusive fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

 What is Khudol?

Khudol is a crowdfunded initiative of Ya_All, an Imphal-based NGO that had created India’s first transgender football team. The initiative entails ensuring food, health and hygiene of the LGBTQI+ community, people living with HIV, daily-wage earners, children and adolescents.

World Turtle Day 2020:

World Turtle Day is observed on May 23. The day is celebrated to make people aware of turtle and tortoise and their habitats.

Every year since 2000, American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a non-profit organization established in 1990, sponsors the celebrations for World Turtle Day.

This year is the 20th anniversary of World Turtle Day.

The theme of World Turtle Day 2020 focuses on bringing attention and increasing knowledge on the subject of tortoises and turtles. In addition, it also includes motivating humans to step forward virtually and help them survive.