27 August Current Affairs
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28 August Current Affairs

Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna And Flora (CITES)

In News:

The Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (CoP18) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was recently held in Geneva.

Key Highlights of COP18, CITES:

It was decided to move the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) from CITES Appendix II to CITES Appendix I. Smooth-coated otter numbers in the wild had fallen by at least 30% over the past 30 years.

The Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) will be included in CITES Appendix II.

The Indian star tortoise was upgraded to CITES Appendix I, giving it the highest level of international protection from commercial trade.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):

The CITES is as an international agreement aimed at ensuring “that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival”.

The text of the Convention was agreed in Washington, DC, in 1973 and entered into force in 1975. Thus, the convention is sometimes referred to as the Washington Convention.

The convention now has 183 parties.

The Convention is legally binding on the Parties in the sense that they are committed to implementing it; however, it does not take the place of national laws.

CITES Appendix:

Appendix I includes species “threatened with extinction”. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

Appendix II provides a lower level of protection.

Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

MoU For Enhanced Outreach On HIV/AIDS Prevention

In News:

A MoU has been signed between National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), under Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MoSJE) for enhanced outreach on HIV/AIDS prevention.

Salient points of MoU are as follows: 

Include female sex workers and transgender as target group for social defence and drug addicts as a target group for NACO.

Inclusion of target groups of NACO and National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR) in the programmes of NAPDDR & NACO for awareness generation.

Enhanced co-ordination between Injecting Drug Users Targeted Intervention (IDUs-TI) supported by NACO and Integrated rehabilitation center for Addicts (IRCAs) supported by Department of Social Justice and Empowerment (DoSJE).

Reduced incidence of social stigma and discrimination again victims of drug abuse and Children and People Living with HIV/AIDS through programme education setting.

Address risk of HIV transmission among all substance users through preventive risk reduction messaging on HIV/STI and linkages with Integrated Testing and Counseling Centre (ICTC).

National AIDS Control Organization (NACO)? 

NACO is a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that provides leadership to HIV/AIDS control programme in India through 35 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Societies.

In 1992 India’s first National AIDS Control Programme (1992-1999) was launched, and National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) was constituted to implement the programme.

Mars Solar Conjunction

In News:

The daily exchange of data between antennas on Earth and those on NASA spacecraft at Mars is about to get much quieter for a few weeks because of Mars solar conjunction.

About: 

During Mars solar conjunction, Mars and Earth will be on opposite sides of the Sun. Solar conjunction occurs every two years.

The Sun expels hot, ionised gas from its corona, which extends far into space.

During solar conjunction, this gas can interfere with radio signals when engineers try to communicate with spacecraft at Mars, corrupting commands and resulting in unexpected behaviour from those space explorers.

To be safe, engineers hold off on sending commands when Mars disappears far enough behind the Sun’s corona that there’s increased risk of radio interference.

This time, the hold on issuing commands — called a “command moratorium” — will run from August 28 to September 7.

Nomenclature Of Lunar Features

In News:

ISRO released images of the lunar surface captured by the Terrain Mapping Camera-2 of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft orbiting the Moon.

About: 

The images show impact craters named after various scientists — (Arnold) Sommerfeld (Germany), (Daniel) Kirkwood (US), Mitra (India), (Charles) Hermite (France) etc.

Mitra (1890-1963), born in Bengal, was a physicist and Padma Bhushan winner.

The system of nomenclature of lunar features is now standardised. According to a resolution by the International Astronomical Union in 1973,

Crater and crater-like formations are given the names of astronomers or eminent scientists , posthumously.

Mountains are given names corresponding to the geographical names of mountains of the Earth and Extensive dark surfaces are given names that correspond to the mental states of humans.

Blue Whale

In News:

A young biologist has recreated a blue whale from the skeletal remains of dead blue whales washed ashore on the Andhra Pradesh coast, replicating its natural anatomy structure.

About: 

Common Name: Blue whale; Baleine bleue (Fr); Ballena azul (Sp).

Scientific Name: Balaenoptera musculus.

Location: they are found in all oceans except enclosed seas and the Arctic.

Size: The blue whale is the largest animal ever known to have existed. they can weigh up to 200 tonnes (whereas an adult male African elephant weighs 6 tonnes).

Voice: Blue whales are the loudest animals on earth and their calls are louder than a jet engine: reaching 188 decibels, while a jet’s engine hit ‘just’ 140 decibels.

Colour: Blue whales are a lightly mottled blue-grey, with light grey or yellow-white undersides.

Population: 10,000-25,000 individuals

IUCN Status: Endangered

In India, the blue whale falls in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Advisory Board for Banking Frauds (ABBF)

In News:

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has constituted an ‘Advisory Board for Banking Frauds (ABBF)’ to examine bank fraud of over ₹50 crore and recommend action.

Details:

Headquartered in Delhi, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will provide required secretarial services, logistic and analytical support along with the necessary funding to the board.

Composition:

Besides the chairman, the Board consists of three other members.

The tenure of the Chairman and members would be for a period of two years from 21st August, 2019.

Functions:

The board’s jurisdiction would be confined to those cases involving the level of officers of General Manager and above in the Public Sector Banks in respect of an allegation of fraud in a borrowal account.

It would function as the first level of examination of all large fraud cases before recommendations or references are made to the investigative agencies by the respective public sector banks (PSBs).

Lenders would refer all large fraud cases above ₹50 crore to the board and on receipt of its recommendation or advice, the bank concerned would take further action in such matter.

The Central Bureau of Investigation may also refer any case or matter to the board where it has any issue or difficulty or in technical matters with the PSB concerned.

It would also periodically carry out frauds analysis in the financial system and give inputs for policy formulation related to the fraud to the RBI.

Time to strike the gavel

In News:

on April 28, 1976, the Supreme Court of India Delivered a judgment in the Additional District Magistrate vs. S.S. Shukla Etc. case that allowed the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during Emergency.

Details:

Today, there is no Emergency, yet the constitutional and basic rights of scores have been suspended in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Worse, the Supreme Court has virtually taken away their constitutional remedy to enforce those rights.

Regrettably, the court has treated habeas corpus petitions in a most casual manner by justifying negation of the rule of law.

What’s the concern now in J&K case?

Article 21 is about life and liberty, and all that the Supreme Court has done is to defer these crucial matters without taking the government to task.

In the first instance, the state failed “to ensure normalcy” from the day it abrogated Article 370; it has now tried to buy more time from the top court to do so.

The “situation is such that nobody knows what exactly is happening there”, but that is precisely why it is the duty to court to ascertain true facts. It cannot shy away from doing justice in the name of “security” and “law and order”.

Conclusion:

It is not suggested here that the security of the nation can be compromised; nor can one argue that law and order ought not to controlled. But preservation of both is the duty of the state. If it intends to do so by taking away fundamental and basic human rights then one can infer that the state has failed in its duty.

The judiciary needs to dispel the perception that it is no longer the pillar created to protect constitutional and legal rights. In any failure, its stature and status as the “bulwark of the rule of law and the democracy” will be compromised.

Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP)

It gives an option to a company looking for exploring hydrocarbons to select the exploration blocks on its own, without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.

Under Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a bidder intending to explore hydrocarbons like oil and gas, coal bed methane, gas hydrate etc., may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any new block (not already covered by exploration).

The Government will examine the Expression of Interest and justification. If it is suitable for award, Govt. will call for competitive bids after obtaining necessary environmental and other clearances.

OALP was introduced as part of the new fiscal regime in exploration sector called HELP or Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy, so as to enable a faster survey and coverage of the available geographical area which has potential for oil and gas discovery.

India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations

India and the EU began negotiations on a broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in 2007

These negotiations are pursuant to the commitment made by political leaders at the 7th India-EU Summit held in Helsinki in 2006 to move towards negotiations for a broad-based trade and investment agreement on the basis of the report of India-EU High Level Technical Group.

India and the EU expect to promote bilateral trade by removing barriers to trade in goods and services and investment across all sectors of the economy. Both parties believe that a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that is consistent with WTO rules and principles would open new markets and would expand opportunities for Indian and EU businesses.

The negotiations cover Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Investment, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade Remedies, Rules of Origin, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Competition, Trade Defence, Government Procurement, Dispute Settlement, Intellectual Property Rights & Geographical Indications, Sustainable Development.

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