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Daily Current Affairs : 20-Dec-2019

Major Topics Covered :

  1. INDIA HAD MOST DEATHS CAUSED BY POLLUTION IN 2017

  2. HIGH COURT QUASHES CIC ORDER ON EVMS

  3. BALIMELA RESERVOIR

  4. EXERCISE 'APHARAN'

  5. ‘PINAKA’- GUIDED ROCKET SYSTEM

  6. INDIA AND USA 2+2 MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE

  7. FIRST BIOSIMILAR MEDICINE TO INCREASE WORLDWIDE ACCESS

  8. PORTUGAL SETS UP GANDHI PRIZE

  9. INTELLIGENT CONCRETE MATURITY METER

  10. CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR NEXT GENERATION TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS

  11. 'SHARJAH' & ‘BARJEEL’



INDIA HAD MOST DEATHS CAUSED BY POLLUTION IN 2017

Part of GS- 3 Environment


Why in news?


In 2017, pollution was responsible for 15% of all deaths globally, and 275 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years.


India saw the most pollution deaths - about 2.3 million - a new report has found.


Highlights:

  • The 2019 Pollution and Health Metrics: Global, Regional and Country Analysis report from the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) updates findings from The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, and provides a ranking of pollution deaths on global, regional and country levels.

  • The report uses the most recent Global Burden of Disease data from the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation.

  • The report includes three lists on pollution-induced deaths.

  • India is the only country that features in the top 10 in all three lists (right).

  • In the list of top 10 countries with the most pollution-related deaths in proportion to their population, there are many smaller countries where the impact of pollution in relation population size is more intense.

  • Chad tops this list with 287 deaths for every 1,00,000 people, whereas India is at number 10 with 174 deaths for every 1,00,000 people.

  • Air pollution - both ambient and indoor - is one of the largest and most obvious types of pollution affecting global health.


Source: Indian Express


HIGH COURT QUASHES CIC ORDER ON EVMS

Part of GS- 2 Polity and Governance


Why in news?


The Delhi High Court on Tuesday quashed an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) which had held that EVMs fall within the definition of ‘information’ under the RTI Act.


Highlights:

  • Justice Jayant Nath passed the order on a plea by the Election Commission (EC) challenging the order of the CIC dated February 12, 2019 that held that EVM is an information under the RTI Act.

  • With this judgement, EVMs are out of the purview of RTI ACT.

  • CIC had observed that EVMs available with the EC in a material form or as a sample is a piece of information under section 2(f) of the RTI Act.

  • Section- 2 (f) states that "Information" means any material in any form, including Records, Documents, Memos, e-mails, Opinions, Advice, Press releases, Circulars, Orders, Logbooks, Contracts, Reports, Papers, Samples, Models, Data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a Public Authority under any other law for the time being in force.


Source: Indian Express


BALIMELA RESERVOIR

Part of GS-1 Geography


Why in news?


The Odisha unit of the CPI(M) has demanded that the State government immediately start providing patta or documented land rights to the tribal inhabitants of ‘Swabhiman Anchal’, the erstwhile cut-off area of the Balimela reservoir.


Highlights:

  • State CPI(M) secretary Ali Kishor Patnaik said lack of proper land rights is a major obstacle in the path of development of people of this underdeveloped area. “Unless their land rights are protected, these tribals will again get exploited by outsiders,” he said.

  • The Balimela reservoir in Malkangiri district got direct road communication only after the inauguration of Gurupriya bridge in 2018.

  • But till now a large number of villages in the region do not have any road connectivity.


Balimela Reservoir


The Balimela Reservoir is located in Malkangiri district, Odisha, India on the river Sileru which is a tributary of the Godavari river.


The gross storage capacity of Balimela reservoir is 3610 million cubic meters

Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Odisha states entered into agreements to construct Balimela dam as a joint project and share the Sileru river waters available equally at Balimela dam site.


Odisha developed the 360 MW (6 × 60 MW units) power house by diverting the Balimela waters to the Potteru sub-river basin.



Source: The Hindu


EXERCISE 'APHARAN'

Part of GS-3 Defence


Why in news?

The Indian Navy, in collaboration with Indian Coast Guard, Cochin Port Trust, and other concerned stake holders, conducted a large-scale Anti Hijacking Exercise off the Port of Kochi on 18 December.


Highlights:

  • The Exercise, code named ‘Apharan’, saw the participation of multiple agencies, including more than 12 ships and helicopters of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Cochin Port Trust.

  • As part of the scenario, interdiction of a ‘rogue’ vessel outside Kochi port and insertion of Marine Commandos (MarCos) onto the rogue/hijacked vessel through boarding operations, as well as slithering down onto its deck from a Sea King helicopter, were exercised.

  • Exercise Apharan was aimed at streamlining the response mechanism and preparedness to thwart any attempt by to hijack a merchant vessel or attempt forced entry of a rogue or commandeered merchant vessel into Kochi harbour.


Source: AIR


‘PINAKA’- GUIDED ROCKET SYSTEM

Part of GS-3 Defence And Security


Why in news?


An upgraded version of India's indigenously developed Pinaka guided rocket system was successfully test-fired from a base on Odisha coast on 19th December, 2019 in a boost to the Army's artillery power, defence sources said.


Highlights:


The multi-barrel rocket launch system, developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was fired from the Proof and Experimental Establishment firing test range at Chandipur near here around noon, they said.


The weapon system, mounted on a Tatra truck, is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance kit comprising an advanced navigation and control system.


PINAKA GUIDED ROCKET SYSTEM


Pinaka is a multibarrel rocket launch (MBRL) system used by the Indian Army.


It was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Pinaka is currently produced at an average rate of 1,000 rockets a year at the Ordnance Factory in Chanda, Maharashtra.


Pinaka integrates state-of-the-art technologies for delivering superior combat performance.


The Ministry of Defence plans to increase the output of the rocket by commencing production at the Ordnance Factory in Badmal, Orissa.


Source: AIR


INDIA AND USA 2+2 MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE

Part of GS-2 IR


Why in news?

India and USA have concluded several landmark agreements in both defence and Civilian sectors at the just concluded 2+2 Ministerial in Washington.


Highlights of the Dialogue:


Industrial Security Annex (ISA):


The Industrial Security Annex (ISA) to the India-U.S. General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) will provide a framework for exchange and protection of classified military information between the U.S. and Indian defence industries.


Currently, under GSOMIA, such information is exchanged between the Government authorities of the two countries but not between private parties.


It will enable greater industry-to-industry collaboration for co-production and co-development in the defence sector, in line with the GOI’s objective of promoting Make in India in the defence sector.


Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI):


United States has announced its commitment to being the founding member of the CDRI whose headquarters will be located in India.


CDRI is an initiative of Prime Minister Modi, launched in September 2019.


U.S. participation in CDRI is a significant development for the organisation since the U.S. has considerable expertise in the area, which will be beneficial to the organisation and its members.


Finalization of Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP):

  • This will harmonies the two side’s processes for identification, development and execution of projects under the DTTI.

  • This will enable expedited decision making and set forth implementation guidelines for DTTI projects, enhancing process predictability of DTTI project proposals.

  • The proposed Industry-to-Industry Framework under DTTI will establish a standing mechanism for dialogue and exchanges between the U.S. and Indian defence companies and their governments on defense technology and industrial cooperation.

  • It will enable greater industry-to-industry cooperation under the DTTI.


Water MOU:


A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between India’s Ministry of Jal Shakti and the U.S. Geological Survey to promote technical cooperation in water resources management and water technology.Both sides will be cooperating in the area of management of river basins, flood management and forecasting, water management, water quality, waste-water recycling and capacity building in testing and instrumentation.


The cooperation will span across Government agencies, universities, research centres, institutions, private sector companies etc. This MOU could have great relevance for India’s Jal Shakti Abhiyan.


S&T Agreement:


The new Science and Technology (S&T) Agreement concluded and implemented updates and replaces the 2005 Agreement and provides a framework for collaboration between the two countries in all fields of science, technology and innovation.


As part of the S&T Agreement both sides have agreed on a common framework on Intellectual Property Rights, consistent with our national IPR policy.


The U.S. is India’s leading technology partner and the implementation of the new S&T Agreement will provide further impetus for the robust S&T cooperation.


Space Situational Awareness:


Both sides have agreed to cooperate for exchange of information in Space Situational Awareness, including space debris and space traffic management.


Towards this end, appropriate arrangements on Space Situational Awareness are under consideration.


The U.S. has established expertise in this field and possesses considerable SSA data, which will be of significant value in ensuring navigational safety of our space assets.


Parliamentary Exchange:


Both Governments hope to strengthen bilateral Parliamentary exchanges through facilitation of reciprocal visits by Parliamentarians from both countries.


This will facilitate greater engagement between the world’s largest and oldest democracies and encourage exchanges between Parliamentarians.


Judicial cooperation:

  • The U.S. Federal Judicial Center and India’s National Judicial Academy in Bhopal seek to expand their satisfactory and mutually beneficial cooperation in the area of counterterrorism jurisprudence to new areas of criminal jurisprudence including money laundering, drug trafficking etc.

  • It is also proposed to hold a regional counterterrorism workshop, based on the experience gained through such interaction.

  • The two Governments have agreed to facilitate such exchanges between the two judicial academies.


Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative:


Appreciating India’sIndo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, announced by Prime Minister Modi at the East Asia Summit (EAS) on 04 November 2019, the U.S. has expressed interest in further expanding cooperation on Ocean issues, through the bilateral India-U.S. Oceans Dialogue.

The IP Oceans Initiative aims to create a safe, secure and stable maritime domain; calls for collaborative efforts to safeguard the oceans including from plastic litter; buildcapacity and fairly share resources; reduce disaster risk; enhance science, technology and academic cooperation; and promote free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and maritime transport.


Peacekeeping for Indo-Pacific:


Since 2016, India and the U.S. have executed a successful and popular programme for joint training and capacity building of African peacekeepers in India’s Centre for UN Peacekeeping (CUNPK).


Four such iterations have been held so far.


They have now agreed expand this cooperation to capacity-building of UN peacekeepers from Indo-Pacific countries, based on demands from the countries concerned.


Tiger Triumph Exercise:


It has been decided to hold the India-U.S. joint tri-services and amphibious exercise ‘Tiger Triumph’ on an annual basis. It was first held in November 2019 as a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise to develop synergies between the tri-services of both countries in conducting HADR operations.


U.S. has advanced capabilities in joint services operations for several decades; training together with the U.S. in these areas can help our forces as we strive for more jointness in our services.


MoA between MoCA and FAA:


The two sides agreed to facilitate the proposed Memorandum of Agreement between the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.


The MOA will establish the framework for providing technical assistance to MoCA in developing, modernizing, operating, and maintaining civil aviation infrastructure in India.



Source: Economic Times


FIRST BIOSIMILAR MEDICINE TO INCREASE WORLDWIDE ACCESS

Part of GS- Health


Why in news?

On 18th December, 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified its first biosimilar medicine – trastuzumab – in a move that could make this expensive, life-saving treatment more affordable and available to women globally.


Highlights:

  • Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women.

  • 2.1 million women contracted breast cancer in 2018.

  • 6,30,000 of them died from the disease, many because of late diagnosis and lack of access to affordable treatment.

  • Trastuzumab a monoclonal antibody – was included in the WHO Essential Medicines List in 2015 as an essential treatment for about 20% of breast cancers.

  • It has shown high efficacy in curing early stage breast cancer and in some cases more advanced forms of the disease.


Source: WHO


PORTUGAL SETS UP GANDHI PRIZE

Part of GS- Award


Why in news?


Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on 19th December, 2019 announced the setting up of a Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize while attending the second meeting of the National Committee for the Commemoration Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary chaired by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.


Highlights:


The only foreign Prime Minister to be a part of the committee, Mr. Costa said Portugal would launch the prize in order to promote Gandhi’s ideals, a Union Culture Ministry statement said.


Every year, the prize would be inspired by Gandhi’s thoughts and quotes, he said, adding that the first edition of the prize would be dedicated to animal welfare.

Gandhi had said “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”


Source: AIR


INTELLIGENT CONCRETE MATURITY METER

Part of GS-3 S&T


Why in news?

The Pune Construction Engineering Research Foundation (PCERF) has developed what it claims is the country’s first indigenous Concrete Maturity Meter that determines the strength of concrete used in construction.


Highlights:

  • PCERF is a non-profit organisation that works to introduce new and cost-effective technologies in the sector.

  • The device can help in significantly reducing the margin of error in estimating the strength of a structure while cutting project costs as well.

  • This diminutive device, which we have dubbed as the ‘Intelligent Concrete Maturity Meter’, is affordable and easy to use.

  • It will be available at 30% to 40% of the cost of the foreign maturity meter that is in use in the market,” said Vishwas Lokare, president, PCERF.

  • Considered as more reliable, the method is based on the principle that concrete strength is directly related to its hydration (temperature) and age (time).

  • However, it is mostly used in major infrastructure enterprises in foreign countries and seldom in major Indian construction projects.

  • A foreign-produced maturity meter was also used in the construction of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai.


Source: The Hindu


CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR NEXT GENERATION TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS

Part of GS- 3 Economy


Why in news?

The National Rail Transport Institute, a deemed to be university under the Ministry of Railways, signed an MoU with the University of Birmingham in Rail Bhawan, New Delhi on December 18th, 2019 to set up its first Centre of Excellence for Next Generation Transportation Systems.


Highlights:

  • Indian Railways is a founding partner of this centre and would provide proprietary data, professional expertise, spare equipment and other available resources directly or through its Centralised Training Institutes and research organisations.

  • The centre would also invite partnerships from other industry and academic organisations as it develops in the future.

  • This Centre will be involved in promoting development of the Rail and Transportation sector in India which include offering post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral programmes, customized training programmes for in-service professionals, undertaking joint research projects in areas such as signalling, communication, asset maintenance, traction and safety and developing benchmarks, standards and certifications for specialized skills.

  • It will also be involved in organising knowledge events, conferences, workshops to disseminate trends, latest research, global best practices and developments in the transportation sector, accessible to industry and academia.


National Rail Transport Institute (NRTI):

  • The National Rail Transport Institute has been set up as a deemed to be university and has been operational since 2018.

  • In addition to Schools and Departments in various disciplines, NRTI aims to develop interdisciplinary Centres of Excellence which would be collaborative constructs to promote research and education to the transportation sector.

  • NRTI’s strategy is focussed upon sourcing the best expertise from around the world from leading global institutions through institutional partnerships for collaborating on developing curriculum, research projects and executive education programs.


Source: PIB


'SHARJAH' & ‘BARJEEL’

Why in news?


The International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced the names of the newly discovered stars and planets, where the name "Sharjah" was chosen for a star with "Barjeel" being the name of one of its planets.


Highlights:


The announcement was made during a press conference of the IAU in the French capital, Paris, celebrating the centennial of the union.


During the announcement, the organisers lauded the efforts and contributions of the Emirate of Sharjah to the global scientific community.


Source: AIR

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