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10 October Current Affairs

Urdu Language

In News:

Recently Punjab University, Chandigarh, had proposed to merge Department of Urdu language with school of foreign languages. The move earned huge criticism with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh also saying that Urdu is an Indian language like any other Indian language.

Origin:

According to the Urdu Language experts, all the historical references indicate that origin of Urdu had taken place in Punjab state of India several centuries back.

Historians said that it had developed and flourished in Delhi during the period of ‘Delhi Sultanate’ from 12th to 16th century and then during the period of ‘Mughal Empire’ in Delhi from 16th century to 19th century

Before it is called Urdu, it was familiar with other names including Hindustani, Hindavi, Dehlavi and Rekhta.

Similarity with Punjabi Shahmukhi language:

We write it from right to left but the same was the case of Punjabi Shahmukhi language which was also written right to left.

Despite its Persian script, Urdu is an Indian language because several Indian languages like Punjabi Shahmukhi language is also written in Persian Script.

Bunad

In News:

When Norwegian Ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund went to Rashtrapati Bhavan to present his credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind recently, he was wearing a “bunad.”

About:

Bunad is Norway’s traditional folk costume.

Bunad is not a single kind of costume but an umbrella term with several regional variations. There are 400 different variations that come in different styles for men and women.

A bunad often includes an apron, a headdress, and a scarf or shawl, and is embroidered and embellished with buckles, ornaments, jewellery and at times, blades.

Bunads are expensive and typically worn on festive occasions.

Nobel Prize 2019

In News:

Three scientists, James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz have won the Nobel Prize 2019 for Physics for their contribution to the understanding of the evolution of the universe and earth’s place in the cosmos.

Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB):

Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles, 84, won one-half of the Prize for his theoretical work helping us understand how the universe evolved after the Big Bang.

His work is focused largely on Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, which is electromagnetic radiation left over from the early universe once it had cooled sufficiently following the Big Bang.

Exoplanet:

The other half went to Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor, 77, and Didier Queloz, 53, for their discovery of an exoplanet that challenged preconceived ideas about planets.

Using a spectrograph, ELODIE, they predicted the planet by observing the “Doppler effect” — when the star wobbles as an effect of a planet’s gravity on its observed light.

Today, exoplanets are being discovered very frequently — over 4,000 are known — which is remarkable progress from three decades ago, when not even one exoplanet was known.

Indian Air Force (IAF)

In News:

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh formally received the first Rafale fighter jet built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Production Unit of Dassault Aviation at Mérignac in France. He was handed over the first Indian aircraft, RB-001, by Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier.

About:

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.

Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced by the French Air Force and has been selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force.

The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria.

Indian scenario:

In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition following the surprise announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015.

The first batch of the jets will arrive in India only in May 2020. By February 2021, India will receive 18 Rafale jets and by April 2022, India will get all the 36 Rafale.

Till May 2020, three batches of IAF pilots, engineers and technicians will undergo advanced training on the Indian jets in France. So far, three IAF pilots and two technical officers have trained on French Air Force Rafale jets, as per the terms of the contract.

India Meteorological Department (IMD)

In News:

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) will collaborate with meteorological agencies in China and Pakistan to provide climate forecast services to countries in the Hindu-Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region.

About:

The Hindu-Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region spans Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

The HKH region is considered the Third Pole [after the North and South Poles] and has significant implications for climate.

The Third Pole, which contains vast cryospheric zones, is also the world’s largest store of snow and ice outside the polar region, and the source of 10 major rivers, and, therefore, particularly sensitive to climate change.

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

In News:

Starting October 15, some stricter measures to fight air pollution will come into force in Delhi’s neighbourhood, as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

About:

Timeline: Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016, GRAP was notified in 2017 by the Centre and draws its authority from this notification.

Bodies involved: The plan requires action and coordination among 13 different agencies in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (NCR areas). At the head of the table is the EPCA, mandated by the Supreme Court.

Working:

GRAP works only as an emergency measure. As such, the plan does not include action by various state governments to be taken throughout the year to tackle industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions.

When the air quality shifts from poor to very poor, the measures listed under it have to be followed since the plan is incremental in nature.

If air quality reaches the severe+ stage, GRAP talks about shutting down schools and implementing the odd-even road-space rationing scheme.

WHO issues first World report on vision

In News:

WHO has launched it’s first World report on vision.

Key findings:

At least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness, of which over 1 billion cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed.

The burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.

The unmet need of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.

Low- and middle-income regions of western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have rates of blindness that are eight times higher than in all high-income countries. Rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis are higher among women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

US$14.3 billion is needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far sightedness, and cataracts.

Main causes of rising cases of vision impairment:

Ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are among the main drivers of the rising numbers of people living with vision impairment.

Other main drivers of the most common eye conditions include:

Myopia (near-sightedness): Increased time spent indoors and increased “near work” activities are leading to more people suffering from myopia. Increased outdoor time can reduce this risk.

Diabetic retinopathy: increasing numbers of people are living with diabetes, particularly Type 2, which can impact vision if not detected and treated. Nearly all people with diabetes will have some form of retinopathy in their lifetimes. Routine eye checks and good diabetes control can protect people’s vision from this condition.

Late detection: Due to weak or poorly integrated eye care services, many people lack access to routine checks that can detect conditions and lead to the delivery of appropriate preventive care or treatment.

Way ahead:

Eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and far too often they still go untreated.

People who need eye care must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship.

Including eye care in national health plans and essential packages of care is an important part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage.

Global Competitiveness Index

In News:

GCI 2019 has been released.

Details:

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), which was launched in 1979, maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organised into 12 pillars.

The pillars, which cover broad socio-economic elements are: institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption, macroeconomic stability, health, skills, product market, labour market, the financial system, market size, business dynamism and innovation capability.

Performance of India:

Compared to last year, India has moved down 10 places to rank 68th. India was ranked 58th last year.

It is among the worst-performing BRICS nations along with Brazil (ranked even lower than India at 71st this year).

India ranks high in terms of macroeconomic stability and market size, while its financial sector is relatively deep and stable despite the high delinquency rate, which contributes to weakening the soundness of its banking system.

In innovation, India is well ahead of most emerging economies and on par with several advanced economies.

Concerns and way ahead for India:

Major shortcomings: limited ICT (information, communications and technology) adoption, poor health conditions and low healthy life expectancy.

The healthy life expectancy, where India has been ranked 109th out of total the 141 countries surveyed for the index, is one of the shortest outside Africa and significantly below the South Asian average.

With a ratio of female workers to male workers of 0.26, India has been ranked very low at 128th place.

Way ahead for India:

Now, India needs to grow its skills base, while its product market efficiency is undermined by a lack of trade openness and the labour market is characterised by a lack of worker rights’ protections, insufficiently developed active labour market policies and critically low participation of women.

Performance of other countries:

Asia-Pacific is the most competitive region in the world, followed closely by Europe and North America.

The United States may have lost out to Singapore overall, but it remains an innovation powerhouse.

Nordic countries are among the world’s most technologically advanced, innovative and dynamic while also providing better living conditions and social protection.

Global concerns- key observations made by the report:

The world is at a social, environmental and economic tipping point.

Subdued growth, rising inequalities and accelerating climate change provide the context for a backlash against capitalism, globalization, technology, and elites.

There is gridlock in the international governance system and escalating trade and geopolitical tensions are fuelling uncertainty.

This holds back investment and increases the risk of supply shocks: disruptions to global supply chains, sudden price spikes or interruptions in the availability of key resources.

Ten years on from the global financial crisis, the world economy remains locked in a cycle of low or flat productivity growth despite the injection of more than $10 trillion by central banks.

Ganga Amantran Abhiyan

It is a month-long exploratory open-water rafting and kayaking expedition, covering nearly 2,500 kilometers from Devprayag in Uttarakhand to Ganga Sagar in West Bengal.

This is the first ever effort by the National Mission for Clean Ganga to raft across the entire stretch of the river and also the longest ever social campaign undertaken through an adventure sporting activity to spread the message of river rejuvenation and water conservation on a massive scale.

The expedition will draw attention to the ecological challenges being faced by the Ganga.

It will cover the five Ganga basin states, namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal with stops at Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Sonepur and Kolkata.

Saturn is the planet with the highest number of moons

In News:

Recently the discovery of 20 new moons of Saturn has made Saturn the planet with the highest number of moons (82) .

Details:

The previous record- holder, Jupiter, has 79.

This was announced by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

Of Saturn’s 20 newfound moons, 17 are retrograde, meaning they orbit in the opposite direction that Saturn rotates. Three orbit in the same direction that Saturn spins. Two of those prograde moons orbit fairly close to the planet while one oddball is farther out.

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