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08 October Current Affairs

Valedictory Ceremony Of 39th World Congress Of Poets

In News:

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu addressed the valedictory ceremony of 39th World Congress of Poets at Bhubaneswar.

About:

39th WCP was held from the 2nd to 5th of October 2019 at Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KIIT & KISS) in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

It was held in English, Spanish and Chinese.

This year’s theme was “Compassion through Poetry.”

The eligibility criteria for poets to be participating in the Congress are as follows:

The poet should have minimum of one book published with an ISBN

The poet should have a recommendation letter from a poetry society that is legally established and has a legal existence.

National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC)

In News:

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) in New Delhi.

About:

With this, the Income Tax Department is introducing faceless e-assessment to impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability in the assessment process. There would be no physical interface between taxpayers and tax officers.

Under the new system, taxpayers have received notices on their registered emails as well as on registered accounts on the web portal, with real-time by way of SMS on their registered mobile number, specifying the issues for which their cases have been selected for scrutiny.

Replies to the notices can be prepared at ease by taxpayers at their own residence or office and sent by email to the National e-Assessment Centre by uploading the same on the designated web portal.

This is another initiative by Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) in the field of ease of compliance for the taxpayers.

Annual Study Of State-Level Budgets

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released its annual study of state-level budgets.

Key Findings:

Except during 2016-17, state governments have regularly met their fiscal deficit target of 3% of GDP.

However, most states ended up meeting the fiscal deficit target not by increasing their revenues but by reducing their expenditure and increasingly borrowing from the market.

This adversely affected the loans that state governments provided to power projects, food storage and warehousing. It also hurt the states’ capital budget allocation for key social and infrastructure sectors.

This reduction in overall size of state budgets likely worsened the economic slowdown that was slowly setting in since the start of 2016-17, when India had grown by 8.2%.

The overall level of debt-to-GDP has reached the 25% of GDP prudential mark. A slightly stringent criterion as prescribed by the FRBM Review Committee and in line with the revised FRBM implied debt target of 20 per cent will put most of the states above the threshold.

States have found it difficult to raise revenues. ‘States’ revenue prospects are confronted with low tax buoyancies, shrinking revenue autonomy under the GST framework and unpredictability associated with transfers of IGST and grants.

Form A and Form B

In News:

Candidates aspiring to contest upcoming assembly elections on the ticket of a political party are required to submit various documents and forms. The most important documents are Form A and Form B.

About:

Form A and Form B denote that a certain candidate has been approved by a political party and should be allotted the election symbol of that party.

These two forms — referred collectively as ‘AB Form’ — prove that a political party has appointed a person in charge of distributing tickets and the candidate has obtained a ticket for a certain constituency from that person.

Form A:

This is a communication from a ‘recognised national or state political party’ or a ‘registered but unrecognised political party’ to the returning officer of the constituency or the chief election officer of the state.

It conveys names of office-bearers of the party, who have been authorised to intimate names of the candidates chosen by the party to contest the polls.

Form B:

This is a communication from the authorised office-bearer of a political party (whose name is mentioned in Form A issued by the president or secretary of the party) to the returning officer of the constituency.

This letter informs the returning officer about the name of the authorised candidate for the party, who should be allotted the party symbol. The letter also contains a substitute name for allotment of the symbol and candidature.

Planet Nine Might Be A Primordial Black Hole

In News:

Two physicists, have proposed a new theory according to which planet nine might be a primordial black hole.

Planet Nine:

Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet in the outer region of the Solar System. As of October 2019, no observation of Planet Nine had been announced.

Its gravitational effects could explain the unusual clustering of orbits for a group of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (eTNOs), bodies beyond Neptune that orbit the Sun at distances averaging more than 250 times that of the Earth.

Over the years, scientists have sought to explain several puzzling aspects of the Solar System by attributing these to the influence of Planet Nine. E.G. In a 2016 paper, researchers made out a case for Planet Nine’s existence by arguing that it could be responsible for the peculiar alignment of icy objects on the outskirts of the Solar System.

Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory For The Study Of Arctic Climate (MOSAIC) Expedition

In News:

Vishnu Nandan, a 32-year-old polar researcher from Kerala, will be the only Indian among 300 scientists from across the world aboard the multidisciplinary drifting observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition.

About:

Full Name: The MOSAiC mission stands for Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate.

Mission objective: Studying the impact of climate change on the Arctic and how it could affect the rest of the world.

Significance: MOSAiC, the largest ever Arctic expedition in history, will be the first to conduct a study of this scale at the North Pole for an entire year. Previous studies have been of shorter periods as the thicker sea ice sheets prevent access in winter.

Key highlights of proposed mission:

Under it, the German research vessel Polarstern has been anchored on a large sheet of sea ice in the Central Arctic. They will allow the water to freeze around them, effectively trapping themselves in the vast sheet of white that forms over the North Pole each winter.

They will build temporary winter research camps on the ice, allowing them to perform tests that wouldn’t be possible at other times of the year or by satellite sensing.

Participants:

Spearheaded by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, scientists from 17 nations will take part in the year-long mission.

The mission has received funding from U.S. institutions such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.

Public Finance Management System (PFMS) portal

In News:

Under pressure from the Centre, the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Department has directed all government procurement agencies to link the bank accounts of farmers with the Public Finance Management System (PFMS) portal before the procurement of paddy begins.

About:

Public Finance Management System (PFMS) portal is an online platform developed and implemented by the office of the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) under the Union Ministry of Finance.

The PFMS portal is used to make direct payments to beneficiaries of government schemes.

In the present case, the idea is to monitor the accounts of farmers to ensure they get the payment for their crops from the arhatiyas, who pay farmers only after selling their produce and receiving the money from the buyers.

Framework To Use Drones

In News:

The Telangana government has adopted a framework to use drones for last-mile delivery of essential medical supplies such as blood and medical samples in an effort to increase the access to healthcare to communities across the state.

About:

The framework has been co-designed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Apollo Hospitals Group Healthnet Global Limited.

The project is a part of the WEF’s “Medicine from the Sky” initiative that aims to develop source materials for policymakers and health systems to analyse the challenges that come with drone delivery, and to compare this model with other competing delivery models.

In July, Telangana submitted a proposal for its drone policy to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The state hopes to become ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) compliant, making commercial use of drones possible.

Chandrayaan-2

In News:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) tweeted that an instrument on Chandrayaan-2, CLASS, designed to detect signatures of elements in the Moon’s soil, had detected charged particles during the mission. This happened in September, during the orbiter’s passage through the “geotail”.

About:

The geotail is a region in space that allows the best observations. The region exists as a result of the interactions between the Sun and Earth.

Once every 29 days, the Moon traverses the geotail for about six days. When Chandrayaan-2, which is orbiting the Moon, crosses the geotail, its instruments can study the properties of the geotail.

How the region is formed?

The Sun emits the solar wind, which is a continuous stream of charged particles. These particles are embedded in the extended magnetic field of the Sun.

Since the Earth has a magnetic field, it obstructs the solar wind plasma. This interaction results in the formation of a magnetic envelope around Earth.

On the Earth side facing the Sun, the envelope is compressed into a region that is approximately three to four times the Earth radius.

On the opposite side, the envelope is stretched into a long tail, which extends beyond the orbit of the Moon. It is this tail that is called the geotail.

 

Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

In News:

The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) set up last year has started functioning as an information sharing hub of maritime data and “cuing incident responses” to maritime security situations through a collaborative approach.

Details:

The centre is actively interacting with the maritime community and has already built linkages with 18 countries and 15 multinational/maritime security centres.

About IFC- IOR:

The IFC-IOR was established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.

The IFC has been established at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram, which is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.

Through this Centre, information on “white shipping”, or commercial shipping, will be exchanged with countries in the region to improve maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean.

Significance and the need:

The IOR has a diverse set of littorals and island nations, each with their unique needs, aspirations, interest and values. It is necessary to counter the Rise in maritime piracy in the region.

IFR-IRO would ensure that the entire region is benefited by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.

Why is the Indian Ocean is important?

It enjoys a privileged location at the crossroads of global trade, connecting the major engines of the international economy in the Northern Atlantic and Asia-Pacific. This is particularly important in an era in which global shipping has burgeoned.

Indian Ocean is also rich in natural resources. 40% of the world’s offshore oil production takes place in the Indian Ocean basin.

Fishing in the Indian Ocean now accounts for almost 15% of the world’s total.

Mineral resources are equally important, with nodules containing nickel, cobalt, and iron, and massive sulphide deposits of manganese, copper, iron, zinc, silver, and gold present in sizeable quantities on the sea bed.

Indian Ocean coastal sediments are also important sources of titanium, zirconium, tin, zinc, and copper. Additionally, various rare earth elements are present, even if their extraction is not always commercially feasible.

Green Crackers

In News:

Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed green crackers, which are new and improved formulations of the previous sound-emitting crackers and other fireworks.

What are green crackers?

They are less harmful and less dangerous than the conventional ones. They are the crackers with reduced emission and decibel level. They are known as ‘green’ firecrackers because they have a chemical formulation that produces water molecules, which substantially reduces emission levels and absorbs dust.

It promises a reduction in particulate matters and harmful gases, like nitrous oxide and sulfur oxide, by 30- 35 per cent.

The green crackers will be 25-30 per cent cheaper to manufacture and manufacturers would not have to make any changes in their facilities.

Need:

With concern over pollution in major cities growing, there was a demand for a ban on firecrackers.

Legal battles to this end have been going on for about a decade now, though the movement has intensified in the last couple years.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of three infants in 2015 by their fathers asking for a complete ban.

With air pollution level going up 29 times above the World Health Organisation standards in November 2016, the Court suspended the sale of fireworks in the NCR, affecting 50 per cent of the total crackers sold in the country.

The Court also asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and some others to conduct a study on the impact of bursting fireworks during Dussehra and Diwali on the health of the people.

Background:

In its report the CPCB said that due to fireworks on Diwali day, particulate matter 2.5 (tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width, and hinder visibility and adversely affect health) levels go up. It stated when when there was less fireworks in 2017, the level had reduced compared to previous years.

What gives colour to the firecrackers?

Red: Strontium salts (Nitrates, carbonates and sulphates of strontium).

Orange: Calcium salts (Carbonates, chlorides and sulphates of calcium).

Yellow: Sodium salts ( Nitrates and oxalates of sodium).

Green: Barium salts (Nitrates, carbonates, chlorides and chlorates of barium).

Blue: Copper salts (Carbonates and oxides of copper).

Purple: A combination of copper and strontium compounds.

White: The burning of metals like magnesium, aluminium and titanium).

 

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