21 December Current Affairs
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22 December Current Affairs

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’

In News:

A three-state field-level campaign on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) is being organised by the Union Government from the first week of January 2019.

Details:

As a part of the campaign, over 900 cultural programmes across various districts of Maharashtra, 100 programmes in Goa and 30 programmes in UT of Dadra & Nagar Haveli would be held.

About BBBP:

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme was launched in January, 2015. The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.

The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio through multi sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.

It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.

Significance and the need for scheme:

The trend of decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR) has been unabated since 1961. The decline from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to 918 in 2011 is alarming. The social construct discrimination against girls on one hand, easy availability, affordability and subsequent misuse of diagnostic tools on the other hand, have been critical in increasing Sex Selective Elimination of girls leading to low Child Sex Ratio.

Child Sex Ratio is defined as number of girls per 1000 of boys between 0-6 years of age. Hence, a decline in the CSR is a major indicator of women disempowerment. The ratio reflects both, pre-birth discrimination manifested through gender biased sex selection and post birth discrimination against girls.

Source: The Hindu

SDG India Index 2018

In News:

The NITI Aayog has released the Baseline Report of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index 2018, documenting the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories (UTs) towards implementation of the 2030 SDG targets.

Background:

The SDG India Index was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and United Nations in India.

The index comprises a composite score for each State and Union Territory based on their aggregate performance across 13 of the 17 SDGs. The score, ranging between 0 and 100, denotes the average performance of the State/UT towards achieving the 13 SDGs and their respective targets.

The aim of the index is to instil competition among States to improve their performance across social indices as the States’ progress will determine India’s progress towards achieving the set goals by 2030. Using the index, States will be monitored on a real-time basis.

Significance:

The SDG India Index acts as a bridge between these mandates, aligning the SDGs with the Prime Minister’s clarion call of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, which embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement – People, Planet, Prosperity, Partnership and Peace.

Highlights of the report and performance of various states:

According to the SDG India Index, the nation as a whole has a score of 58, showing the country has reached a little beyond the halfway mark in meeting the sustainable development goals adopted by India and 192 other nations in 2015.

The SDG Index Score for Sustainable Development Goals 2030 ranges between 42 and 69 for States and between 57 and 68 for UTs.

Top 3 states in terms of being on track to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

Among the UTs, Chandigarh is the front runner with a score of 68.

Tamil Nadu has a score 66, and is the top scorer on the goals to do with eradicating poverty and also providing clean and affordable energy.

Kerala’s top rank is attributed to its superior performance in providing good health, reducing hunger, achieving gender equality and providing quality education. Himachal Pradesh ranks high on providing clean water and sanitation, in reducing inequalities and preserving the mountain ecosystem.

Among the UTs, Chandigarh takes the lead because of its exemplary performance in providing clean water and sanitation to its people. It has further made good progress towards providing affordable and clean energy, generating decent work and economic growth, and providing quality education.

The toppers in gender equality, Sikkim and Union territories Andaman and Nicobar islands and Chandigarh have crossed the half way mark in reaching the goals.

Jharkhand, Odisha and Nagaland are also among the states that have a lot more ground to cover in the overall rankings.

Overall, the average score for the States was the worst when it came to gender equality (36), in creating sustainable cities and communities (39), in enabling industry, innovation, and infrastructure (44), and in eradicating hunger (48).

SDGs:

Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all member states of the United-Nations in 2015, describe a universal agenda that applies to and must be implemented by all countries. Sound metrics and data are critical for turning the SDGs into practical tools for problem solving.

Source: The Hindu

International Whaling Commission (IWC)

In News:

Japan is considering pulling out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Implications:

Such a move would spark international criticism against Japan over whale conservation and deepen the divide between anti- and pro-whaling countries.

Background:

Tokyo currently observes the moratorium but exploits a loophole to kill hundreds of whales every year for “scientific purposes” as well as to sell the meat.

About IWC:

It is an international body set up under International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW).

ICRW governs the commercial, scientific, and aboriginal subsistence whaling practices of fifty-nine member nations. It was signed in Washington, D.C., United States, in 1946.

Headquarters — Impington, near Cambridge, England.

In 1986, it adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling. This ban still continues.

Whale sanctuary:

In 1994, it created the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary surrounding the continent of Antarctica. Here, the IWC has banned all types of commercial whaling.

Only two such sanctuaries have been designated by IWC till date. Another is Indian Ocean Whale Sanctuary by the tiny island nation of the Seychelles.

Objectives:

To provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks.

For orderly development of the whaling industry.

Source: The Hindu

States’ Start-up Ranking 2018

In News:

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has announced the results of the first ever States’ Start-up Ranking 2018.

Background:

DIPP began the exercise to review the Start-up ecosystem of the states from January 2016.

The key objective of the exercise was to encourage States and Union Territories to take proactive steps towards strengthening the Start-up ecosystems in their states. The entire exercise was conducted for capacity development and to further the spirit of cooperative federalism.

The methodology behind the exercise was aimed at creating a healthy competition environment wherein States were encouraged further to learn, share and adopt good practices.

States’ Startup Ranking 2018:

Best Performer:

Top Performers: Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, and Rajasthan.

Leaders: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana.

Aspiring Leaders: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Emerging States: Assam, Delhi, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand.

Beginners: Chandigarh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim, and Tripura.

Champions: 51 officers from States and Union Territories were identified as “Champions”, who have made significant contributions towards developing their State’s Start-up ecosystem.

Source: The Hindu

Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS)

In News:

The US space agency’s unmanned Mars Insight lander, which touched down on the Red Planet last month, has successfully deployed its key, quake-sensing instrument- Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure– on the alien world’s surface.

Details:

The spacecraft used its robotic arm to place the seismometer on the ground in front of the lander, 5.4 feet (1.64 meters) away.

About Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure:

The seismometer, known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or SEIS, was made by the French space agency, CNES. The tool aims to help scientists better understand the interior of Earth’s neighboring planet by studying ground motion, also known as marsquakes.

Main Job: To measure the pulse of Mars by studying waves created by marsquakes, thumps of meteorite impacts, and even surface vibrations generated by activity in Mars’ atmosphere and by weather phenomena such as dust storms.

About InSight Mission:

InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

It will be the first mission to peer deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes, which are seismic events similar to earthquakes on Earth.

It will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the planet’s deep interior.

Significance of the mission:

The findings of Mars’ formation will help better understand how other rocky planets, including Earth, were and are created. But InSight is more than a Mars mission – it is a terrestrial planet explorer that would address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science – understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.

InSight seeks to answer one of science’s most fundamental questions: How did the terrestrial planets form?

Why Mars?

Previous missions to Mars have investigated the surface history of the Red Planet by examining features like canyons, volcanoes, rocks and soil. However, signatures of the planet’s formation can only be found by sensing and studying its “vital signs” far below the surface.

In comparison to the other terrestrial planets, Mars is neither too big nor too small. This means that it preserves the record of its formation and can give us insight into how the terrestrial planets formed. It is the perfect laboratory from which to study the formation and evolution of rocky planets. Scientists know that Mars has low levels of geological activity. But a lander like InSight can also reveal just how active Mars really is.

Source: The Hindu

NABCB Accreditation Secures Recognition in Asia-Pacific Region

In News:

The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB), India’s national accreditation body, has secured equivalence for its accreditation programme for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) Certification Bodies in Asia- Pacific region.

Details:

It has signed the Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA) of the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) on 19 December 2018.

About NABCB:

NABCB can facilitate export of Indian goods in the global market by attesting that these are certified as per international standards by competent certifying bodies.

It is a constituent Board of the Quality Council of India, is responsible for accreditation of certification/inspection bodies as per applicable international standards under an international system of equivalence.

It is the third accreditation body in the Asia-Pacific region (other two being the accreditation bodies of Hong Kong and Mexico).

NABCB programme is based on international standards, ISO/IEC 17021-1 and ISO 45001, applicable for OHSMS.

Source: PIB

Cell-by-cell DNA science is ‘Breakthrough of 2018’

In News:

The US journal Science has coined as “Breakthrough of the Year” for 2018 new technologies that reveal how DNA cues individual cells to grow through time.

Significance:

A combination of technologies is revealing when genes in individual cells switch on, cueing the cells to play their specialized parts. These methods will transform science over the coming decades, allowing an ever clearer picture of the processes behind aging, healing, and disease.

Asiatic Lion Conservation Project

  • Ministry of Environment has recently launched Asiatic Lion Conservation Project.
  • It aims to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem.
  • Habitat improvement, scientific interventions, disease control and veterinary care supplemented with adequate eco development will be carried out under the project.
  • The project will be funded from the Centrally Sponsored Scheme – Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with 60:40 share ratio of Central and State government.
  • Asiatic Lion that once ranged from Persia (Iran) to Palamau in Eastern India were almost driven to extinction by hunting and habitat loss.
  • According to 2015 census, it is found in Gir Protected Area Network that includes Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary adjoining reserved forests, protected forests.
  • It is included in 21 critically endangered species for recovery programme and financial assistance under the species recovery component of CSS-DWH.

SDG India Index

  • The index has been released by NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and United Nations in India.
  • It tracks progress of all States and UTs on 62 Priority Indicators based on each aggregate performance across 14 SDGs selected by NITI Aayog.
  • The score ranges between 0 (performing poor) and 100 (achieved national target in meeting SDG).
  • According to the Index, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are progressing at a faster rate towards the SDG set for 2030.
  • Among the UTs, Chandigarh is the front runner followed by Puducherry.
  • P, Bihar and Assam are progressing at a slower rate.
  • Tamil Nadu is the top scorer in eradicating poverty and also providing clean and affordable energy.
  • The average score for the States was the worst in gender equality, in creating sustainable cities and communities, in enabling industry, innovation, and infrastructure, and in eradicating hunger.

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