12 August Current Affairs
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August 14, 2019
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13 August Current Affairs

In Manasarovar, Chinese lend a helping hand to Indian pilgrims

In News:

For Indian pilgrims on the difficult trek to the high altitude Kailash Manasarovar, the Hindu holy site in Tibet, things might have just got easier from this year.


Accommodation facilities, called reception centres, have been built at various points of the pilgrimage, thanks to an initiative by the Chinese government to improve the material comforts of the pilgrims undertaking the arduous journey.

The reception centres, each with about 150 beds, have rooms with charging points, a common kitchen and a common washroom, and provide food for the yatris.

About Kailash Mansarovar Yatra:

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is undertaken by two routes, via-

Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand– This route passes through a very mountainous area.

Nathu La Pass in Sikkim– This route opened a few years ago in Sikkim is fully motorable. It requires minimum walking and therefore helps senior citizens who are unable to undertake arduous trekking, to participate in yatra.

Itinerary: The Yatra involves a treacherous route that crosses territorial boundaries of India, Nepal and China. According to Yatra scheduled this year, 18 batches of 60 pilgrims each will trek across the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand and 10 batches consisting of 50 pilgrims each will go via the Nathula route to Sikkim.

Importance: This pilgrimage plays an important step towards promoting people to people exchanges, strengthening friendship and understanding between India and China.

Organised by:

The yatra is organised with support from governments of Delhi, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and also with cooperation of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). The Government of China also extended the support in organising the annual yatra.

The logistical support and facilities for pilgrims in India is providea by Uttarakhands’ Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) and their associated organisations.

Vikram Sarabhai

In News:

Google celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of scientist and innovator Vikram Sarabhai, with a doodle.


Born in Ahmedabad in 1919, Dr. Sarabhai earned his doctorate at Cambridge.

He founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad in 1947.

He is considered as the father of India’s space program.

After Russia’s Sputnik launch, he managed to convince the Indian government on the need for India, a developing country, to have its own space program.

He established the Indian National Committee for Space Research in 1962, which was later renamed the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

He helped set up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Thiruvananthapuram, with its inaugural flight in 1963.

He had worked on India’s first satellite, Aryabhata, but he never lived to see its launch in 1975, which happened four years after his death.

Other institutions founded: Apart from ISRO and PRL, he pioneered the setting up of several institutions, such as the –

Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad,

Community Science Centre, and

Darpan Academy for Performing Arts (which he set up with his wife Mrinalini, a renowned dancer).

Awards and honours:

He received the Padma Bhushan in 1966 and was conferred the Padma Vibhushan posthumously in 1972.

In 1973, a crater on the moon was named after him.

Climate Change

In News:

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that July 2019 matched, and possibly broke, the record for the hottest month since analysis began.


The finding emerged from analysis of new data from the WMO and the Copernicus Climate Change Programme, run by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

July 2019 was close to 1.2°C above the pre-industrial level. The previous warmest month on record was July 2016, and July 2019 was at least on par with it.

July 2019 vs July 2016:

This finding is significant because in July 2016 there was a strong occurrence of the El Niño phenomenon, a system of complex weather patterns that contribute to warmer global temperatures.

This July, there were no strong occurrences of the El Niño phenomenon making the rise in temperatures seen across the world particularly striking.

Global Scenario of climate Change: 

Exceptional heat has been observed across the globe in recent weeks, with several European countries recording temperature highs.

The extraordinary heat was accompanied by dramatic ice melt in Greenland, in the Arctic and on European glaciers.

Unprecedented wildfires raged in the Arctic for the second consecutive month, devastating forests which used to absorb carbon dioxide and instead turning them into sources of greenhouse gases.

Forest And Tree Cover In India

In News:

The Ministry of Environment informed Parliament about the status of forest and tree cover in India.


Assessment of forest and tree cover are done by the Forest Survey of India, whose findings are published in the India State of Forest Report (ISFR). The last report was published in 2017.

Total forest cover: A quarter of India’s geographical area (24.49 %) is under forest and tree cover.

Lowest forest and tree cover (In terms of %):

The lowest forest and tree cover in the country is in Haryana, at 6.79 % of its geographical area.

Punjab follows with 6.87 %. Rajasthan’s forest and tree cover is over 7.26 % of its geographical area while Madhya Pradesh’s is 27.73 %.

Highest forest and tree cover (In terms of %):

At 97 %, the Union Territory of Lakshadweep is on top – its geographical area is only 30 square km.

Among the six states with the highest forest and tree cover, four are in the Northeast – Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

Goa and Kerala are two other states with more than 50 % of their geographical area under forest and tree cover.

Highest forest and tree cover (In terms of area): In terms of geographical area, the highest tree and forest cover is in Madhya Pradesh, with 85,487 sq km.

Supreme Court Regional Benches

In News:

The Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu has advocated the need to set up Supreme Court benches in different regions in the country, including one at Chennai, to bring the judicial system closer to people.

Law Commission report 2009: 

Recommendation: The Law Commission, in its report submitted to the government in 2009, recommended that –

a Constitution Bench be set up in Delhi to deal with constitutional and allied issues, and

four Cassation Benches in Delhi (north), Chennai/Hyderabad (south), Kolkata (east) and Mumbai (west) to deal with all appellate work arising out of the orders/judgments of the High Courts.

Arguments in favour:

It is high time we had more benches because in a country as vast as India the litigants have to travel long distances and spend a huge amount of money and energy.

Setting up Benches outside Delhi would neither impair unity and integrity nor undermine the importance of the Supreme Court.

Way ahead:

According to the Law Commission, If Article 130 is liberally interpreted, no constitutional amendment may be required for setting up Cassation Benches in four regions and a Constitution Bench at Delhi.

If it is found that Article 130 cannot be stretched to make it possible to implement the recommendations, Parliament should enact suitable legislation/constitutional amendment for this purpose.”

Nehru Trophy Boat Race

In News:

Like 2018, the Kerala government has put off 2019 edition of Nehru Trophy Boat Race(NTBR) scheduled for Saturday following heavy rains and wind.


Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a popular Vallam Kali (boat race) held in the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha, Kerala on the second Saturday of August every year.

The most popular event of the race is the competition of Chundan Vallams (snake boats). Hence the race is also known as Snake Boat Race in English.

Other categories of boats such as Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam etc. also participates in the competition.

It is organized by the Nehru Trophy Boat Race Society under the guidance of the district administration.

Vembanad is the longest lake in India, which spans several districts in Kerala. It is known as Punnamada Lake in Kuttanad, Kochi Lake in Kochi.


According to the first global analysis of nematodes published in Nature, there are about 57 billion nematodes for every human being on Earth.


What are they? Nematodes are roundworms and their size can vary from a tiny 0.2 millimetre to a few metres.

Significance: These nematodes play a crucial role in the environment as they are responsible for production of about 19% of ammonia of the soil. They are also important bioindicators of soil ecosystem health.

Recent study: In the first global analysis of nematodes, a team of over 50 researchers collected over 6,500 soil samples from all seven continents of the world. The study was done only on the top 15 cm of soil.

Key findings:

There are about 57 billion nematodes for every human being on Earth.

Their total biomass comes to around 300 million tonnes which is about 80% of the combined weight of Earth’s humans.

These nematodes are responsible for 2.2% of the total carbon emission from soils.

At 38% of the total, sub-Arctic regions have the highest abundance of nematodes. The temperate region has the next highest abundance followed by the tropical regions.

OBC sub-categorization Commission

  • It was tasked to examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among castes included in the broad category of OBC in central government jobs and educational institutions especially with reference to OBCs included in Central list.
  • It was also tasked to take up the exercise of identifying respective castes, sub-castes, communities synonyms in Central List of OBCs and classify them into their respective sub-categories. It is mandated was to work out mechanism, norms, criteria, and parameters, in the scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs.
  • The five-member commission was constituted under article 340 of Constitution in October 2017 with approval of President. It is headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice (Retd) G. Rohini.

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994

  • It was enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in India.
  • The act banned prenatal sex determination.
  • Every genetic counselling centre, genetic laboratory or genetic clinic engaged in counselling or conducting pre-natal diagnostics techniques, like In vitro fertilisation (IVF) with the potential of sex selection (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis) before and after conception comes under purview of the PCPNDT Act and are banned
  • The Act provides for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception.
  • The Act mandates compulsory registration of all diagnostic laboratories, all genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics.