20 June Current Affairs
June 20, 2019
22 June Current Affairs
June 22, 2019
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21 June Current Affairs

Kerala offers to send 20 lakh litres of water by rail to T.N.

In News:

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami will take a decision on Friday on Kerala’s offer to supply 20 lakh litres of water by train from Thiruvananthapuram to Chennai to tide over the water crisis.

Details:

“Kerala is willing to assist Tamil Nadu to tackle the crisis caused by water scarcity. We could deliver 20 lakh litres of drinking water through the rail network. In response to our offer, we have been informed that at present Tamil Nadu have sufficient supply and doesn’t require additional assistance from Kerala”.

Though the late arrival and stuttering start of the southwest monsoon have robbed Kerala of its normal rainfall quota during the period, the storage position in the State’s reservoirs is much better than in Tamil Nadu.

Since the daily requirement of Chennai a day is 525 MLD (million litres per day), the Chief Minister’s Secretary also conveyed that the offer of 20 lakh litres was being managed from here and “if there is a requirement, help from Kerala would be sought certainly.”

“Tamil Nadu government officials have opined that it would be helpful if Kerala sends 2 MLD. The Chief Minister would take an appropriate decision after a review meeting on the drinking water issue scheduled tomorrow (Friday)”.

President bats for simultaneous polls

In News:

President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday asked the Members of Parliament to seriously ponder over the proposal of simultaneous polls, terming it “development-oriented”.

Details:

In his hour-long address to both Houses of Parliament, he stated that the people of the country had “demonstrated their wisdom by delivering a clear verdict” in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Mr. Kovind also flagged the government’s move to push forward with the triple talaq Bill in this session, its decision to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on a priority basis and strong response to terror after the attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, on February 14. “‘One nation simultaneous election’ is the need of the hour, which would facilitate accelerated development, thereby benefiting our countrymen. With such a system in place, all political parties, according to their respective ideologies, will be able to better utilise their energy towards development and public welfare”.

The government had taken steps to curb infiltration by deciding to implement the NRC, currently being updated in Assam, on a priority basis in areas affected by infiltration.

While the government was working to identify infiltrators, it was also fully committed to protecting those who were victims of persecution due to their faith in neighbouring countries, via the Citizenship Act, but that it would be amended to protect linguistic, cultural and social identities, he said.

The amendments to the Act were necessitated by huge protests in the northeastern region, particularly in Assam, early this year.

Tough on terror:

Mr. Kovind commended the government for acting tough on terror after the Pulwama attack. “India has amply demonstrated both her intent and capabilities, first through surgical strikes and then through air strikes after Pulwama on terrorist hideouts across the border. In future too, all possible steps will be taken to ensure our security,” he said. The “whole world stands with India on the issue of terrorism, the designation of Masood Azhar, responsible for the dastardly terrorist attacks on our soil, as a global terrorist by the United Nations is a major testimony to this fact.”

UPA leader Sonia Gandhi was seen thumping her desk when the Balakot air strikes after Pulwama was mentioned by the President.

Mr. Kovind said India would host a G-20 summit in 2022, a sign of its “new image”.

The “eradication of social evils like triple talaq and nikah halala” was imperative and all members should cooperate in such efforts. The Union Cabinet had cleared a fresh bill on triple talaq and is expected to table it in this session of Parliament.

The President concluded his remarks by referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s talisman as a guiding principle for all MPs. “My advice to all MPs is that you should always remember the fundamental ‘mantra’ of Gandhiji. He had said that every decision of ours should be guided by its impact on the poorest and weakest person in society”.

‘Avail of benefits under WBCIS, PM-KISAN’

In News:

The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme is applicable to all farmers now irrespective of categories.

Details:

Farmers can obtain application forms from the offices of gram panchayats, raita samparka kendras and village accountants and file them in the same offices.

More than two lakh farmers in Dakshina Kannada are eligible to apply for the schemes. The Union government will credit Rs. 6,000 per farmer per annum in three equal instalments. Farmers need not submit copy of RTCs while filing the application. They would have to submit their Aadhaar number, details of bank accounts and land survey numbers and a declaration that their Aadhaar numbers can be used for the particular purpose.

Grand plans for the farm sector

In News:

The Centre plans to invest Rs. 25 lakh crore in the farm sector in the coming years to boost agricultural productivity.

Details:

Addressing the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament, the President said that a committee of Chief Ministers was being set up to look into structural reforms in the field of agriculture. With regards to drought-hit areas, Mr. Kovind said the government was aware of the crisis and was assisting farmers and tackling drinking water shortages with the support of State governments and village sarpanchs .

Listing the BJP-led government’s decisions in its first 21 days, the President began by highlighting the expansion of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, an income support scheme, to all landowning farm families. Earlier, the scheme was only open to small and marginal farm families owning less than two hectares of land. The expansion of the scheme in keeping with a BJP poll promise would increase its annual budget to Rs. 90,000 crore (from the previous Rs. 72,000 crore estimate).

Pension scheme:

Other initiatives include the contributory pension scheme for farmers above the age of 60, a Rs. 13,000-crore scheme to fund treatment of common diseases in cattle, the Grameen Bhandaran Yojana to provide village-level storage facilities for farm produce and the plan to create 10,000 new farmer producer organisations. A new department for fisheries development is expected to usher in a new blue revolution.

With regard to higher education, the President said the government was “striving to increase the number of seats in the country’s Higher Education System by one-and-a-half times by 2024.” This would create two crore additional seats.

NHRC questions frailty of health infrastructure

In News:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued notices to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry (MoHFW), and all States and Union Territories, over what it termed was the “deplorable public health infrastructure in the country”.

Details:

The NHRC took suo motu cognisance of several media reports on recent deaths across the country due to “deficiencies and inadequacies in the healthcare system”.

This comes in the wake of over 100 children dying in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) recently.

“The Commission has observed that large number of deaths of innocent people including women, children and elderly persons, are taking place due to lack of proper medical care, infrastructure, manpower and due to administrative failure, across the country,” the statement read.

Deaths of children:

The NHRC cited 143 recent deaths of children in Muzaffarpur as well as the loss of lives of children in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, due to the failure of oxygen supply in 2017.

“The Commission has reminded the Central/State Governments of their constitutional duty under Article 21 of the Constitution under which Right to Life is guaranteed. Quoting the Supreme Court of India, the Commission has observed that right to live with human dignity is part of Right to Life.

“Referring to the widespread malnutrition prevalent in several States, the Commission observed that it is the primary duty of the State under Article 47 of the Constitution to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people, which the Commission observed, the State has failed”.

All-party meeting soon on NRC

In News:

Assam Chief Minister will convene an all-party meeting to discuss the fate of people to be left out of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be published in July.

Details:

He assured us that all political parties and diverse groups would be called for a meeting for suggestions on those to be excluded from the NRC.

The exercise to update the Supreme Court-monitored NRC began in May 2015. The deadline for this document for sifting illegal migrants from genuine Indian citizens living in Assam is July 31.

About 40.07 lakh people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were excluded from the complete draft of the NRC that was published on July 30, 2018. The excluded were given a three-month window ending December 31, 2018 for reapplying with fresh set of documents to be back on the list.

The issue of Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT) declaring genuine Indian citizens as foreigners and throwing them in detention centres is also likely to figure in the all-party meeting.

“The case of Kargil War veteran Mohammed Sanaullah has made it clear that the FTs and the Assam Police’s border wing have not been fair. So we have asked the government to find out if people are being falsely detained as foreigners”.

Mr. Sanaullah, who retired as an Honorary Captain from the Army in August 2017, was declared a foreigner on May 23 and sent to the Goalpara detention camp five days later. The Gauhati High Court granted him bail on June 7.

The CPI(M) also demanded revision of the doubtful, or D-voters’, list for people with proper documents to be allowed to exercise their franchise. The Election Commission had before the Lok Sabha polls said there were some 1.2 lakh D-voters in Assam.

Navy to build 6 submarines

In News:

The Navy issued an ‘Expression of Interest’ for shortlisting potential strategic partners for the construction of six P-75 (I) submarines costing nearly Rs. 45,000 crore.

Details:

This is the second project being undertaken under the latest Strategic Partnership (SP) Model, with the first being the procurement of 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH). This will provide a major boost to the indigenous design and construction capability of submarines in India, in addition to bringing in the latest submarine design and technologies as part of the project.

As a major initiative towards ‘Make in India’, the government immediately on taking over has issued the Expression of Interest(s) for shortlisting of potential Indian Strategic Partners (SPs) for “construction of six conventional submarines for P-75(I) project of the Indian Navy on June 20.

The case was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council on January 31. The Expression of Interest (EoI) for shortlisting of Indian strategic partners has been uploaded on the Defence Ministry and Navy websites.

The EoI for shortlisting of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will be issued in two weeks.

The SPs in collaboration with OEMs have been mandated to set up dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in India with an aim to make India the global hub for submarine design and production.

“All six submarines under this project will be built in India by the selected Indian Strategic Partner in collaboration with the selected OEM. In addition, the Navy will have the option to manufacture six more submarines under the project”.

Way forward:

The project would not only aid in boosting the core submarine and the ship building industry but also greatly enhance the manufacturing, industrial sectors, especially the medium, small and micro enterprises, by development of an industrial eco-system for manufacture of associated spares, systems, and equipment related to submarines.

Changes to IT Act to take effect soon

In News:

The government will soon notify amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Act that seek to make it mandatory for online platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to trace the originator of “unlawful” content.

Details:

“The guidelines have been almost finalised. They will be notified very soon,”. Last December, the government sought public comments on the draft amendments to the IT Act proposed with an aim to curb the spread of fake news. Besides tracing the origin of the message, the draft rules proposed the removal of “unlawful content” within 24 hours from the platform.

Criticism:

The draft rules had drawn criticism from the Opposition as well as some experts over fears of “surveillance and censorship”. Additionally, platforms such as WhatsApp have been at loggerheads with the government over the issue of tracing the origin of a message.

However, the government has pointed out that a number of lynchings occurred in 2018 mostly due to fake news being circulated on social media sites. It has further reasoned that social media had brought new challenges for the law enforcement agencies, including inducement for recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content, spread of disharmony and incitement to violence.

2 warships deployed in Persian Gulf

In News:

Amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran as well as recent incidents related to maritime security, the Navy has deployed its warships in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to safeguard Indian vessels in the region.

Details:

In addition, aerial surveillance by Naval aircraft will also being undertaken in the area.

INS Chennai and INS Sunayna have been deployed in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to undertake maritime security operations.

Raksha Mantri Leads Yoga Day Celebrations In Capital

In News:

Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh led thousands in practicing Yoga at majestic Rajpath with Rashtrapati Bhawan in the background on the 5th International Day of Yoga here today.

Details:

Prime Minister, accompanied by Minister of State (Independent charge) Ministry of AYUSH& Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Shripad YessoNaik led the nation from Ranchi in Jharkhand in celebrating the spirit of Yoga.

Addressing enthusiastic yoga practitioners, including scores of children Raksha Mantri said Yoga Day has become historic date for human civilisation. It is playing pivotal role in getting the whole world together and people from Tokyo to San Francisco are welcoming the morning sun rays through Yoga.

Shri Singh while praising Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for his cultural diplomacy said, unprecedented 177 nations supported Yoga Day resolution in the United Nations. He allayed the fears of that Yoga belong to any religion. It transcends religion and is for whole humankind. He pointed out that even Islamic countries supported the resolution which itself proves that point.

Minister of Environment, Forest &Climate Change and Information &Broadcasting Shri Prakash Javadekar, Goa Chief Minister Shri Pramod Sawant, Sikkim Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang, Minister of State (Independent charge) Ministry of CultureandMoS I/C Ministry of Tourism Shri Prahalad Singh Patel, Delhi Lt Governor Shri Anil Baijal and host of other dignitaries participated in practice of Yoga on the occasion.

Himalayan glaciers are melting twice as fast since 2000: study

In News:

Comparing data obtained by Cold War-era spy satellites with images from modern stereo satellites, scientists have shown that Himalayan glaciers have lost more than a quarter of their ice mass since 1975, with melting occurring twice as fast after the turn of the century as average temperatures rose.

Background:

In the 1970s, at the height of the Cold War, the U.S. had deployed spy satellites that orbited the globe and took thousands of photographs, using a telescopic camera system, for reconnaissance purposes. Film recovery capsules would be ejected from the KH-9 Hexagon military satellites and parachuted back to Earth over the Pacific Ocean.

More than four decades later, scientists are using those same images to show the devastating impact of a warming Earth on the Himalayan glaciers. The overlapping images, each covering 30,000 square kilometres with a ground resolution of six to nine metres, have been pieced together to form digital elevation models of the Himalayas of that era.

In an article published in the Science Advances journal on Wednesday, J.M. Maurer and co-authors analysed four decades of ice loss for 650 of the largest glaciers across a 2,000 km transect across the Himalayas.

“Our observed annual mass losses suggest that of the total ice mass present in 1975, about 87% remained in 2000 and 72% remained in 2016,” the study’s authors wrote. “We find similar mass loss rates across subregions and a doubling of the average rate of loss during 2000–2016 relative to the 1975–2000 interval,” they added.

Rising temperature:

The study goes on to assert that rising temperatures are responsible for the accelerating loss.

“This is consistent with the available multidecade weather station records scattered throughout HMA [High Mountain Asia, which includes all mountain ranges surrounding the Tibetan Plateau],” the authors wrote, noting an average increase of 1° Celsius since 2000. The study rules out other causes for glacier changes, such as the deposition of soot on snow and ice and changing precipitation patterns.

Einstein’s relativity paper gifted to Nobel museum

In News:

The Nobel Museum in Stockholm has been gifted Albert Einstein’s first paper published after he received the Nobel Prize in 1922 and discussing his then still controversial relativity theory.

Details:

Swedish businessman Per Taube bought the handwritten two-page document at an auction for 1.2 million krona (€110,000) in December last year. He has now made good on his promise to gift the manuscript to the Nobel Museum, which will put it on display in a glass frame later this year.

The paper, written in November 1922 while Einstein was attending conferences in south-east Asia, was published a month later by the Prussian Academy of Sciences.

It also has handwritten editor’s annotations by German physicist Max von Laue who won the Nobel Prize in 1914. Von Laue owned the manuscript until 1948 before it passed into the hands of private collectors.

Significantly, the document contains a modified version of the relativity theory and shows that Einstein was facing fierce resistance within the scientific community.

“This letter shows that even though Albert Einstein had received the Nobel prize, his physics was very much part of the debate among scientists at that time and Albert Einstein himself was also part of this debate,” said Gustav Kallstrand, senior curator at the Nobel Prize museum.

Scientists find earliest signs of Parkinson’s in brain

In News:

Scientists said on Thursday said they had found the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease in the brain years before patients showed any symptoms, a discovery that could eventually lead to better screening for at-risk people.

Details:

The disease is diagnosed by a build-up in the brain of a specific protein, a-synuclein, the cause of which is unclear. However some people are born with a genetic mutation that makes them almost certain to develop the disease at some stage in their life.

Researchers from King’s College London compared data from 14 individuals carrying the mutation with that of 65 non-genetic Parkinson’s patients and 25 healthy volunteers.

They found that changes in the serotonin system in the brains of Parkinson’s sufferers started to malfunction well before other symptoms occurred.

“Serotonin function was an excellent marker for how advanced Parkinson’s disease has become ,” said Heather Wilson, from the university’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

Mini robot to help detect colon cancer

In News:

Scientists have created a tiny robotic capsule that can take images inside the colon, and thus replace the invasive and often painful procedure of endoscopy to detect diseases such as cancer.

Details:

The device can be manoeuvred inside the colon to take micro-ultrasound images, which can be used to easily identify some types of cell change associated with cancer.

The Sonopill is the culmination of a decade of research by an international consortium of engineers and scientists which developed a technique called intelligent magnetic manipulation. The study was published in Science Robotics .

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