22 July Current Affairs
July 23, 2019
24 July Current Affairs
July 24, 2019
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23 July Current Affairs

245 deaths in 14 months: Delhi zoo orders analysis

In News:

The National Zoological Park, better known as Delhi zoo, has undertaken an analysis into deaths of 245 animals over 14 months from April 2018 to June 2019.

Details:

There were high number of deaths and the analysis was ordered to prepare a single document in tabular format to understand whether there are any particular reasons leading to the deaths.

Currently, though post-mortems are done when animals die, they are maintained as different documents and there has been no proper cross-analysis.

After preparing the document which will have details of each animal that died, its age and cause of death, we will analyse it and take corrective measures if needed, a similar report would be made every month from now on to make sure that there is no death due to negligence.

Multiple irregularities in the zoo, including false post-mortem reports of animals during the tenure of the previous zoo Director, were found in a 2016 report.

In June 2019, following a High Court order, the zoo had submitted an inventory report to the court after conducting a census of the animals. The court issued the order while hearing a petition by animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi on alleged “abnormal mortality rate” of animals in the Delhi zoo and “criminal conspiracy by the zoo officials”.

Though two tiger cubs born in the zoo died in August 2018, they were not part of the birth and death table in the inventory report submitted to the court.

Three cubs were born in total. One was stillborn, another lived only for a day and the third died before even opening its eyes. Such births and deaths are noted in a separate register.

Spurned HIV+ student finally gets into school

In News:

A 15-year-old HIV-positive boy, allegedly denied admission to the Government Higher Secondary School at Kolakanatham in Perambalur district, was on Monday enrolled in another school after senior officials intervened.

HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS is a pandemic disease caused due to the infection of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).  HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If untreated, person’s immune system will eventually be completely destroyed. AIDS refers to set of symptoms and illnesses that occur at very final stage of HIV infection.

Common reasons for getting infected with AIDS:

  • Unprotected sex with an infected person.
  • During pregnancy from mother to child or even breastfeeding.
  • Through transfusion of blood.
  • Using of hypodermic needles of infected person to other person.

Human Rights Bill cleared amid protests

In News:

The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was cleared by a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha amid criticism from the Opposition that the legislation will ensure that only the government’s nominees are appointed to the National Human Rights Commission.

Details:

The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amends the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to include the provision that apart from a former CJI, a former judge of the Supreme Court can be the Chairperson of the NHRC.

Key Features of Amendment

Composition of NHRC: Under Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, chairperson of NHRC is a person who has been Chief Justice of Supreme Court but Bill amends this provision to person who has been Chief Justice of Supreme Court, or Judge of Supreme Court will be chairperson of NHRC. This means Supreme Court judge besides CJI can also be appointed Chairperson of NHRC.

Number of members of NHRC increased from two to three

Act provides for 2 persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of NHRC but Bill amends this provision to allow 3 members to be appointed as members of NHRC. Also, At least one of 3 members of NHRC should be a woman

Members of NHRC: Under the Act, chairpersons of commissions like National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), and National Commission for Women (NCW) are members of NHRC. The Ammendement Bill provides for including chairpersons of National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) as well as Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PwD) as NHRC members.

Chairperson of SHRC: At present SHRC chairperson is a person who has been a Chief Justice of a High Court but Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice/Judge of High Court will be chairperson of SHRC.

Term of office: As per the Act chairperson and members of NHRC and SHRC will hold office for 5 years or till 70 years of age or whichever is earlier. Bill reduces term of office to 3 years or till 70 years of age, whichever is earlier.  Moreover the bill removes the 5 year limit for reappointment unlike the present act that allows for reappointment of members of NHRC and SHRCs for a period of 5 years.

Powers of Secretary-General: Bill seeks to amend the current provision of Secretary-General of NHRC and a Secretary of SHRC, who exercise powers as may be delegated to them, to allowing the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to respective chairperson’s control.

Union Territories: Bill provides that central government may confer on SHRC human rights functions being discharged by UTs and the functions relating to human rights in case of Delhi will be dealt with by NHRC.

Odisha renews effort to revive gharial population

In News:

Odisha has renewed its effort to revive the population of gharials, a “critically endangered” species of crocodile, in their natural habitat by releasing five reptiles into the Satkosia gorge of Mahanadi — the southernmost limit of gharials’ home range in India.

Details:

These gharials, including three females and two males, were bred at the Nandankanan Zoological Park. The gharials are individually marked and fitted with radio transmitters for future identification and tracking of their migration route.

About Gharial:

  • Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is also known as the gavial. It is last surviving species of the family Gavialidae.
  • It is a fish-eating crocodile and belongs to one of the three crocodilian species found in the Indian Sub-Continent.
  • In historic times it was present in Indus River system, including Beas and Sutlej rivers, indicating healthy river system.
  • Protection Status: It is listed in Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It is also listed as Critically Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.

Race for the moon gains mileage

In News:

July 2019 is a special year for space history. Other than it being the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 into earth orbit, it also marks the 50th anniversay of the famed Apollo 11 mission of July 1969 that for the first time saw humans land on the moon.

Facts of Apollo 11:

Neil Armstrong, the first human being to walk on the moon passed away.

He was the commander of the NASA’s Apollo 11 space flight on July 20, 1969.

Armstrong’s second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969.

  • On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module.
  • The objective of Apollo 11 was to land safely rather than to touch down with precision on a particular spot.
  • The first words Armstrong intentionally spoke to Mission Control and the world from the lunar surface were, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
  • Armstrong set his left boot on the Moon’s surface at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969, then spoke the famous words “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
  • There was a controversy over whether Armstrong said “a” before the word “man” or not and several researches were made over this.
  • About 20 minutes after the first step, Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface and became the second human to set foot on the Moon, and the duo began their tasks of investigating how easily a person could operate on the lunar surface.
  • Early on, they unveiled a plaque commemorating their flight, and also planted the flag of the United States.
  • Shortly after their flag planting, the then President of USA Richard Nixon spoke to them by a telephone call from his office.
  • In the entire Apollo 11 photographic record, there are only five images of Armstrong partly shown or reflected.
  • The mission was planned to the minute, with the majority of photographic tasks to be performed by Armstrong with a single Hasselblad camera.
  • After helping to set up the Early Apollo Scientific Experiment Package, Armstrong went for a walk to what is now known as East Crater, 65 yards (59 m) east of the LM, the greatest distance traveled from the LM on the mission.
  • Armstrong’s final task was to leave a small package of memorial items to deceased Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov, and Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.
  • The time spent on EVA during Apollo 11 was about two and a half hours, the shortest of any of the six Apollo lunar landing missions.

Israel tears down ‘illegal’ homes in Jerusalem area

In News:

Israel demolished a number of Palestinian homes it considers illegal south of Jerusalem early on Monday, in a move which has drawn international concern.

Background Issue:

West Jerusalem is that part of Jerusalem which remained under Israeli control after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.  A number of western countries such as the UK acknowledge de facto Israeli authority, but withhold de jure recognition.  Israel’s claim of sovereignty over West Jerusalem is more widely accepted than its claim over city of East Jerusalem

  • Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their capital.
  • Before this, 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

The Israeli–Palestinian tussle is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century. The origins of this conflict can be traced back to Jewish immigration, and sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine between Jews and Arabs. This conflict has been referred to as the world’s “most intractable conflict”, with the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for last 51 years.

Demographic Dividend

In News:

Studies have shown that India entered a 37-year period of demographic dividend in 2018. The bulge in the working age population is going to last till 2055.

About: 

Since 2018, India’s working-age population (people between 15 and 64 years of age) has grown larger than the dependant population — children aged 14 or below as well as people above 65 years of age.

This bulge in the working-age population is going to last till 2055, or 37 years from its beginning.

Many Asian economies — Japan, China, South Korea — were able to use this ‘demographic dividend.’

Japan was among the first major economies to experience rapid growth because of changing population structure. The country’s demographic-dividend phase lasted from 1964 to 2004.

In the 16 years between 1978 and 1994 (post-reform, pre-dividend) China saw eight years of double-digit growth.

Demographic Dividend? 

Meaning: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) defines ‘demographic dividend’ as the growth potential that results from shifts in a population’s age structure.

Reason: This transition happens largely because of a decrease in the total fertility rate (TFR, which is the number of births per woman) after the increase in life expectancy gets stabilised.

Impact on growth:

Studies show such periods are often marked by rapid economic growth. However this change in population structure alone cannot push growth. There are many other factors.

In the late 20th century demographic dividend in Asia resulted in a seven-fold increase in the GDP of many countries. In Latin America the growth was only two-fold.

Countries can only harness the economic potential of the youth bulge if they are able to provide good health, quality education and decent employment to its entire population.

Sangeetha Kalanidhi Award

In News:

Noted Carnatic vocalist S. Sowmya has been chosen for the Sangeetha Kalanidhi award of the Music Academy this year. She will be conferred with the awards on January 1, 2020.

Madras Music Academy (MMA): 

It plays an important role in promoting the Carnatic Music.

History: A music conference was held along with All India Congress Session held in Madras in 1927and during the deliberations, the idea of a Music Academy emerged. Next year MMA was Inaugurated. Thus it’s an offshoot of INC madras session, 1927.

It presents the following annual awards:

Sangeetha Kalanidhi:

Awarded to one person who has contributed to the field of Carnatic music.

Considered as the highest accolade in the field of Carnatic music;

Since 2005, the Sangeetha Kalanidhi also receives the MS Subbulakshmi Award instituted by The Hindu.

Sangeetha Kala Acharya:

Awarded to two senior musicians who have contributed by bringing several disciples to the concert platform.

Natya Kala Acharya:

Awarded to a senior dancer at the inauguration of the annual dance festival.

TTK Award:

Awarded to two senior musicians who have made a mark in the music field as icons and gurus.

It is named after TT Krishnamachari, former Union Minister and industrialist, who was a great patron of the arts and was Vice-President of the Music Academy.

Papa KS Venkataramiah award:

Awarded to a Violinist of merit.

This award is named after Papa KS Venkataramiah (a great violinist of the past).

Musicologist Award:

Awarded to a musicologist.

A scholar who participates in musical research is a musicologist.

Indira Sivasailam endowment concert and medal:

Awarded during Navaratri each year, it is given to the top-ranking performing artist in the concert organized at that time.

Inter-Ministerial Committee On Virtual Currencies

In News:

Inter-Ministerial Committee on Virtual Currencies submitted its Report along with Draft Bill ‘Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019.’

Timeline: 

The Government of India had constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) in 2017 under the Chairmanship of Secy (EA), with Secy (MeiTY), Chairman (SEBI) and Dy. Governor, RBI as Members, to study the issues related to virtual currencies.

The Committee has submitted its Report along with Draft Bill ‘Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019’ to the government which will now examine it before the Government takes a final decision.

Key highlights of the report: 

The Group has highlighted the positive aspect of distributed-ledger technology (DLT) and suggested various applications, especially in financial services, for use of DLT in India.

Given the risks associated with private cryptocurrencies and volatility in their prices, the Group has recommended banning of the cryptocurrencies in India and imposing fines and penalties for carrying on of any activities connected with cryptocurrencies in India.

It has also proposed that the Government keeps an open mind on official digital currency.

As virtual currencies and its underlying technology are still evolving, the Government may establish a Standing Committee to revisit the issues addressed in the Report as and when required.

GSLV-Mk III – M1 / Chandrayaan-2 Mission

In News:

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft on July 22,2019 into its planned orbit.

About: 

What is it? Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon.

Components: It comprises a fully indigenous Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan). The Rover Pragyan is housed inside Vikram lander.

Mission Objective: To demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. It will also carry detailed study of moon’s topography and atmosphere leading to a better understanding of the Moon.

GSLV Mk III: 

it is a three-stage launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage.

The vehicle is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Mission Journey: 

The launch took place from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

After the injection of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, a series of maneuvers will be carried out using its onboard propulsion system to raise its orbit and place it in the Lunar Transfer Trajectory.

On the day of landing, the Lander (Vikram) will separate from the Orbiter and then will attempt to make a soft landing in a high plain between two craters — Manzinus C and Simpelius N — at a latitude of about 70° South on 7th September 2019.

Subsequently, the Rover (Pragyan) will roll out and carry out experiments on Lunar surface for a period of 1 lunar day which is equal to 14 Earth days. The mission life of Vikram is also 1 lunar day.

The Orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year.

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