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December 15, 2018
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December 18, 2018
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17 December Current Affairs

Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018

In News:

The government recently notified Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018 thereby allowing phone calls and internet on flights and ship voyage within India’s territory.

The guidelines:

The in-flight and maritime connectivity (IFMC) can be provided by a valid telecom licence holder in India through domestic and foreign satellites having the permission of the Department of Space.

In case of using satellite system for providing IFMC, the telegraph message shall be passed through the satellite gateway earth station located within India and such satellite gateway earth stations shall be interconnected with the NLD (national long distance) or access service or ISP licensee’s network for further delivery of service.

The IFMC services will be activated once the aircraft attains a minimum height of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace to avoid interference with terrestrial mobile networks.

The IFMC licences will be granted against an annual fee of Re 1 for a period of 10 years and the permit holder will have to pay licence fees and spectrum charges based on revenue earned from providing services.

Source: The Hindu

Australia Recognizes West Jerusalem as Capital of Israel

In News:

Australia has recognized West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. With this, Australia has become one of the few countries that officially recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Background:

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their Capital and this despite is not resolved yet.

United States President Donald Trump’s administration had also announced recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, 2017.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution in opposition to declare the US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “null and void”. India also supported the resolution, which was approved with a majority of 127-9 at the UN General Assembly calling for the US to withdraw its decision.

Source: The Hindu

High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)

In News:

High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)- A camera aboard Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has captured the image of the InSight lander, which recently touched down on the Red Planet.

High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE):

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) will photograph hundreds of targeted swaths of Mars’ surface in unprecedented detail.

HiRISE operates in visible wavelengths, the same as human eyes, but with a telescopic lens that will produce images at resolutions never before seen in planetary exploration missions.

HiRISE also makes observations at near-infrared wavelengths to obtain information on the mineral groups present.

These new, high-resolution images will provide unprecedented views of layered materials, gullies, channels, and other science targets, as well as characterize possible future landing sites.

Source: The Hindu

India, Nepal, Bhutan plan joint task force to protect wildlife

In News:

The governments of India, Nepal and Bhutan are actively considering having a joint task force for allowing free movement of wildlife across political boundaries and checking smuggling of wildlife across the Kanchenjunga Landscape, a trans-boundary region spread across Nepal, India and Bhutan.

Background:

The developments comes up after forest officials and representatives of non-government organisation of the three countries visited parts of the landscape and later held a meeting at Siliguri in north Bengal earlier this month.

Need for a joint task force:

Setting up of a joint task force is a key requirement in the road map on achieving the objectives of free movement of wildlife and checking smuggling of wildlife.

According to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a regional knowledge development and learning centre, 1,118 sq km of riverine grassland and tree cover were lost in the landscape between 2000 and 2010. 74 % of the area was converted into rangeland and 26% to agricultural land.

Other than seven million people, the Kanchenjunga Landscape is also home to 169 species of mammals and 713 species of birds. Studies by the ICIMOD suggest that between 1986 and 2015, as many as 425 people were killed by elephants and 144 elephants were killed between 1958 and 2013.

Source: The Hindu

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

In News:

The Navy will soon put into operation the Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) to improve maritime security in the region.

About IFC- IOR:

The IFC-IOR is being 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:

The IOR has a diverse set of littorals and island nations, each with their unique needs, aspirations, interest and values. Rise in maritime piracy in the region has had its impact worldwide, which shows how important these waters are to the nations and economies the world over.

Although concerted efforts by the navies and maritime security agencies over the last few years have significantly reduced this threat, other challenges persist.

Establishment of the 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.

The Indian Ocean is important for the following reasons:

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.

Source: The Hindu

Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN)

In News:

India has signed the ascension agreement to the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN). The multilateral construct comprises of 30 countries and is steered by Italy.

Details:

India already has bilateral White Shipping Agreements with 36 countries.

About the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN):

The network facilitates information exchange on the movement of commercial traffic on the high seas.

The information is available primarily through the Automatic Identification System (AIS) fitted on merchant ships with more than 300 gross registered tonnage as mandated by the International Maritime Organisation.

The AIS information comprises name, MMSI number, position, course, speed, last port visited, destination and so on. This information can be picked up through various AIS sensors including coastal AIS chains and satellite based receivers.

Significance:

Such multilateral agreements are necessitated due to the large traffic in the Indian Ocean which cannot be entirely monitored by any one nation.

This is a significant move as it will help the Indian Navy keep a watch over the vast Indian Ocean and boost maritime security of the country. India is part of several such agreements, which help the nations to coordinate and share information to keep tabs on suspicious activities and illegal trade across the oceans.

Source: The Hindu

PM inaugurated 175 Km of sewerage network in Prayagraj

In News:

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) made its effort to reduce pollution in river Ganga when PM inaugurated projects in Prayagraj including 175 KM of sewerage network.

Details:

The project will now carry 7.8 Cr litres sewage water per day to existing STPs (Sewage Treatment Plants) at Salori, Kodra & Ponghat for treatment earlier ended up in Ganga.

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG):

It was registered as a society on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act 1860.

It acted as implementation arm of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), constituted under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986.

The Act envisages five-tier structure at national, state and district level to take measures for prevention, control and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga and to ensure continuous adequate flow of water so as to rejuvenate the river Ganga as below:

National Ganga Council under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.

Empowered Task Force (ETF) on river Ganga under chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).

State Ganga Committees, and

District Ganga Committees in every specified district abutting river Ganga and its tributaries in the states.

Source: PIB

India’s first railway university

In News:

India’s first railway university has been opened in Vadodara– It is named as the National Rail and Transportation Institution (NRTI).

Key facts:

The Railway University will be first of its kind institution in the nation and the third in the world after Russia and China.

It will be a deemed university which will offer professional courses in technology and management of transportation networks.

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

In News:

The National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) has released a report tiger mortality in the country.

Details:

The NTCA maintains the official database of tiger mortality in the country, and compiles figures from reports sent by different States on the basis of recovery of bodies or seizure of body parts.

According to the records till December 15, 2018, there were 95 cases of tiger deaths in the country. Of this, 41 cases of tiger deaths outside tiger reserves have been reported.

Of them, 14 occurred in Maharashtra, which accounted for over 34% of all deaths outside tiger reserves in the country. A total of 19 tiger deaths were recorded in Maharashtra in 2018, so deaths outside tiger reserves comprise more than 70% of all tiger deaths in the State.

About NTCA:

The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it under the said Act.

The functions of NTCA are as follows:

Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management

Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan

Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament

Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.

According approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.

Vijay Diwas

In News:

India celebrated Vijay Diwas on 16th December 2018 marking the 47th anniversary of its victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Key facts:

Vijay Diwas, also called as Victory Day, is celebrated on every 16th December in India. It marks the victory of Indian armed forces over Pakistan in the war of Independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971.

At the end of the 1971 war, the Pakistani Army unilaterally and unconditionally surrendered resulting in the independence of East Pakistan, which was called as Bangladesh.

Campaign launched to save the Great Indian Bustard from extinction

Wildlife organisations have got together to launch a campaign to save the Great Indian Bustard which in recent years has come under the critically endangered list. With the total global population of the Great Indian Bustard reaching and all time low at fewer than 150 individuals, this campaign is the need of the hour.

The wildlife organisations that have launched the campaign are The Corbett Foundation in collaboration with Conservation India and Sanctuary Nature Foundation.

The campaign aims at highlighting the overhead power transmission lines that result in the death of these low flying birds with a limited field of vision. This is the primary threat to the survival of the species especially in the Great Indian Bustard Habitat.

Significant threats to the GIB:

Reduction in the extent of undisturbed arid grassland habitat.

Degradation and disturbance in existing grassland habitat.

Lack of importance for natural grassland conservation in policy, law and PA network due to incorrect perception on ecological value vis-a-vis forests.

Lack of protection for many ‘lekking’ and nesting sites.

Lack of cooperation between different departments/stakeholders in GIB habitats.

Lack of awareness and support from local communities.

Livestock overgrazing and feral dogs.

Disturbance by photographers — there is now enough anecdotal evidence to show that photography of the species causes significant disturbance.

About the Great Indian Bustard:

Great Indian Bustard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972, in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

It has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

Project Great Indian Bustard — state of Rajasthan — identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as provide secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas.

Protected areas:

Desert National Park Sanctuary — Rajasthan.

Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh.

Karera Wildlife Sanctuary– Madhya Pradesh.

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