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28 July Current Affairs

Bombali: New strain of Ebola virus

In News:

Researchers have discovered new strain of Ebola virus.

Details:

In bats in northern Bombali region of Sierra Leone.

Key facts:

It has been named as Bombali virus strain, after district where it was found.

The sixth in line: The Bombali virus is overall sixth known virus strain Ebola virus. Others are Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, Bundibugyo and Reston.

About Ebola:

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.

Transmission: The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

Prevention: Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service and social mobilisation.

Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.

Background:

More than 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The last outbreak in the DRC was in 2014 and killed more than 40 people. The region affected lies 1,300 km north-east of Kinshasa, close to the border with the Central African Republic.

Source: The Hindu

Government extends Prime Minister’s Research Fellows Scheme all potential researchers

In News:

The government has extended the scope of Prime Minister’s Research Fellows Scheme. The decision was made after Government failed to find adequate number of candidates for PMRF this year. Only 135 fellowships were finally offered against 1,000 positions.

Changes introduced:

Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme will now be open to all potential researchers from 2019 and not limited to candidates from IISc, IITs, NITs, IIEST and IISERs.

About PMRF:

Aim: The Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) scheme is aimed at attracting the talent pool of the country to doctoral (Ph.D.) programs of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for carrying out research in cutting edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities.

Eligibility: Under the PMRF scheme, students who have completed, or are pursuing, the final year of four year undergraduate or five year integrated M.Tech or five year integrated M.Sc. or five year undergraduate-postgraduate dual degree programs in Science and Technology streams from IIEST/IISc/IITs/NITs/IISERs and centrally funded IIITs are eligible for admission to full time Ph.D. programme in the IITs & IISc provided they fulfil prescribed eligibility criteria and finally get selected after shortlisting/written test/interview.

Fellowship: Applicants who fulfil the eligibility criteria, and are finally selected through a selection process, will be offered admission to Ph.D. program in one of IITs/IISc with a fellowship of Rs.70,000/- per month for the first two years, Rs.75,000/- per month for the 3rd year, and Rs.80,000/- per month in the 4th and 5th years.

A research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh per year will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their academic contingency expenses and for foreign/national travel expenses.

Other such government initiatives:

For attracting highly skilled researchers and scientists to pursue their R&D interests in Indian Institutions, several initiatives have been launched such as: Faculty Recharge Programme, CV Raman Post-Doctoral Fellowship Scheme by University Grants Commission (UGC), Ramanujan Fellowship, JC Bose Fellowship, Swarnjayanti Fellowship, Young Scientist Project Award, Women Scientist Scheme by Department of Science & Technology (DST), and Ramalinga Swami Re-entry Fellowship by Department of Biotechnology.

Ministry of Human Resource Development have launched Global Initiative for Academic Network (GIAN) which seeks to tap the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs from abroad, including those of Indian origin to augment the country’s existing academic resources.

Source: PIB

Western Dedicated Corridor (WDFC)

In News:

Indian Railways set to get its first dedicated freight corridor on Independence Day. The 190-km dedicated freight railway line between Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and Phulera in Rajasthan falls under the Western Dedicated Corridor (WDFC).

Details:

These are freight-only railway lines to move goods between industrial heartlands in the North and ports on the Eastern and Western coasts.

The dedicated freight-only lines are being built along the four key transportation routes – known as the Golden Quadrilateral and connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Howrah and its two diagonals (Delhi – Chennai and Mumbai – Howrah).

Western Dedicated Freight Corridors:

The 1,504-km-long route — from JNPT to Dadri via Vadodara-Ahmedabad- Palanpur-Phulera- Rewari — Western DFC will pass through Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. It is proposed to join the Eastern Corridor at Dadri.

Need of DFCs:

Increased burden: Covering a total of 10,122 km, these corridors carry the heaviest traffic and are highly congested. The route carries 52% of passenger traffic and 58% of freight traffic, according to the Make-in-India report of 2017. Also, these routes are highly saturated, with line capacity utilisation reaching as high as 150%.

Rise in demand: Considering increased transport demands, overtly congested routes and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with road transport, these freight corridors will help reduce the cost and allow faster transportation.

Revenue generation: They will open new avenues for investment, as this will lead to the construction of industrial corridors and logistic parks along these routes.

About Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL):

The DFCCIL is a corporation run by the Ministry of Railways (India) to undertake planning & development, mobilisation of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors. DFCC has been registered as a company under the Companies Act 1956 on 30 October 2006.

Source: The Hindu

Draft of Data Protection Bill

In News:

A committee headed by former Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna recently submitted its recommendations and a draft law titled the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 to the government.

Details:

These are two separate outcome documents submitted to the ministry of electronics and information technology that will steward a legislative effort and define the legal boundaries of the use of personal data.

Background:

The 10-member committee was set up in July 2017 to recommend a framework for securing personal data in the digital world.

Highlights of the Personal Data Protection 2018 Bill:

The draft bill notes that “the right to privacy is a fundamental right and it is necessary to protect personal data as an essential facet of informational privacy.”

The bill also notes that it is necessary to create trust between the individual who provide their data and those who process this.

On the right to be forgotten, the bill notes that that ‘data principal’ which means the individual or the person providing their data, has a right to “right to restrict or prevent continuing disclosure.” But the bill does not allow for a right of total erasure like the European Union does.

It also gives a data processor considerable leeway when it comes to deciding on this ‘right to be forgotten.’ The bill notes that “the data fiduciary may charge a reasonable fee to be paid for complying with requests.”

The Bill also calls for privacy by design on part of data processors, and defines terms like consent, data breach, sensitive data, etc.

Data Protection Authority of India (DPA): It proposes setting up of a DPA, an independent regulatory body responsible for the enforcement and effective implementation of the law, consisting of a chairperson and six full-time members.

In case of any appeal against an order of the DPA, an appellate tribunal should be established or an existing appellate tribunal should be granted powers to hear and dispose of any appeal.

Other recommendations by the committee:

The committee has recommended phased timelines for the adoption of different aspects of the privacy law, making data protection a critical component in India’s security posture rather than a mere compliance prerequisite. Also, the stringent penalties proposed on the misuse of data would create deterrence and also compel organizations to build a controls-led environment while processing or storing personal data.

A COMPARISON OF DATA LAWS IN OTHER COUNTRIES:

EUROPE (EUROPEAN UNION):

  • Has an all-encompassing law ‘General Data Protection Regulations,’ which came into effect on May 25, 2018.
  • User consent needs to be explicit n Right to be forgotten, a concept that arose in the EU.
  • Right to be forgotten, a concept that arose in the EU.
  • Applies to businesses anywhere in the world that handle European data.
  • Penalties for non-compliance are up to 4 percent of the company’s global turnover, or 20 million Euros, whichever is higher.

UNITED STATES:

  • Data protection fragmented invarious federal and state laws.
  • Each sector will deem what isprivate or personal data.
  • A movement to pass a new law onconsumer privacy protectionsfailed in the Congress in 2017.
  • California, with ‘Shine the LightLaw,’ was one of the first states inthe US to implement privacy laws.

AUSTRALIA:

  • The Privacy Act of 1988 regulates the handling of personal information of individuals.
  • Privacy is not a fundamental right.
  • Does not apply to government agencies, political parties.

Source: The Hindu

India to give flash flood warning to Asian nations

In News:

India has been designated as a nodal centre for preparing flash-flood forecasts by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). That means India will have to develop a customised model that can issue advance warning of floods in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.

Need for early warning:

Like India, several southeast Asian countries depend on the monsoon and are prone to its vagaries. The WMO says flash floods account for 85% of flooding incidents across the world, causing some 5,000 deaths each year.

The proposed model would provide forecasts by computing the likelihood of rainfall and the soil moisture levels to warn of possible floods.

About WMO:

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to meteorology (weather), climatology (climate), operational hydrology (water) and other related geophysical sciences such as oceanography and atmospheric chemistry.

Functions:

WMO coordinates the activities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in 191 States and Territories so that basic weather, climate and water services are made available to anyone who needs them, when they need them.

WMO guarantees the publication of observations and statistics and furthers the application of meteorology and hydrology (including the monitoring and predictions of climate change and ozone) to all aspects of human activities such as aviation, shipping, water management and agriculture.

WMO also encourages research and training in meteorology and hydrology and their related applications and contributes towards reducing the impact of weather- and climate-related hazards. This is accomplished through regular, reliable forecasts and early warnings on flooding, drought, tropical cyclones, tornadoes and other extreme events.

Predictions concerning locust swarms and the transport of pollutants (nuclear and toxic substances, volcanic ash) are also provided by WMO Members.

Source: The Hindu

Mission Satyanishtha

In News:

Indian Railways has launched “Mission Satyanishtha”.

Aim: This mission aims at sensitizing all railway employees about the need to adhere to good ethics and to maintain high standards of integrity at work.

Objectives of the Mission are:

  • To train every employee to understand the need and value of ethics in Personal and Public life.
  • To deal with ethical dilemmas in life and Public Governance.
  • To help understand the policies of Indian Railways on ethics and integrity and the employee’s role in upholding the same.
  • To develop inner governance through tapping inner resources.

Source: PIB