29 April Current Affairs
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30 April Current Affairs

Technical Textiles

In News:

A Seminar was recently organized by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation on “Use of Technical Textiles in Water Resources Works”.

Details:

Technical Textiles are defined as Textile material and products manufactured primarily for their Technical performance and functional properties rather than aesthetic and decorative characteristics.

Technical textiles include textiles for automotive applications, medical textiles (e.g., implants), geotextiles (reinforcement of embankments), agrotextiles (textiles for crop protection), and protective clothing (e.g., heat and radiation protection for fire fighter clothing, molten metal protection for welders, stab protection and bulletproof vests, and spacesuits).

Significance and potential applications:

Technical Textiles are being used globally for last several decades. These materials have provided innovative engineering solutions for several applications in civil and geotechnical engineering, for infrastructure water resources projects.

Even while Technical Textiles have been extensively used in developed as well as many developing countries, India has yet to capitalise the technical, economical and environmental benefits on large scale.

Various parts of India are subjected to floods and environmental degradation. In some of the terrains, the flood management and control can rely on Technical Textiles tubes, containers and bags. Technical Textiles have been found to perform better than concrete as water protection component because of permeability, flexibility and ease of underwater placement.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

In News:

MoEFCC has constituted a committee to implement the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

Key facts:

Composition: The committee will be chaired by the Secretary, Union Environment Ministry and has among its members the Joint Secretary (Thermal), Ministry of Power; Director-General, The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) etc.

Terms of reference: The committee would be headquartered in New Delhi and its remit includes ensuring “inter-ministerial organisation and cooperation, sharing information and resolving issues that could arise between ministries. The committee would also give overall guidance and directions to effectively implement the programmes.

Need:

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) database on air pollution over the years has listed Tier I and Tier II Indian cities as some of the most polluted places in the world. In 2018, 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities were in India.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

This is the first ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.

The programme will not be notified under the Environment Protection Act or any other Act to create a firm mandate with a strong legal back up for cities and regions to implement NCAP in a time bound manner for effective reduction.

Key features of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

Achieve a national-level target of 20-30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.

The programme has been launched with an initial budget of ₹300 crore for the first two years.

The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.

Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.

As part of the programme, the Centre also plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India. At least 4,000 monitors are needed across the country, instead of the existing 101 real-time air quality (AQ) monitors, according to an analysis.

The plan proposes a three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards.

It also proposes state-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries.

Various committees:The national plan has proposed setting up an apex committee under environment minister, a steering committee under-secretary (environment) and a monitoring committee under a joint secretary. There would be project monitoring committees at the state-level with scientists and trained personnel.

Source: The Hindu

Army invokes emergency powers

In News:

The Army is in the process of procuring Spike-LR Anti-Tank Missiles from Israel and Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence Systems (VSHORAD) from Russia through a set of new financial powers for emergency procurements sanctioned by the Defence Ministry earlier this month.

Features of emergency financial powers given to Army:

After the Pulwama attack, the government has given emergency powers to the armed forces for buying equipment to enable them to fight wars on the western border with Pakistan.

Under the latest emergency financial powers, armed forces have been given a free hand to procure equipment worth upto ₹300 crore on a priority basis.

The government also relaxed certain rules to cut delays in military purchase like allowing the three services to procure required weapons and equipment from a single vendor.

Entirely new systems not in use can also be procured under the new powers.

For the procurement under the emergency orders, the forces need not even take concurrence of the Integrated Financial Advisor from the defence finance department.

Need:

The defence Ministry feels that since the forces have to fight wars, they should decide on their requirement and priority in the acquisition and buy that equipment.

Spike-LR Anti-Tank Missiles:

  • being procured from Israel.
  • range of 4 km.

Source: The Hindu

Supreme Court seeks EC response on plea against voter prosecution

In News:

The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Election Commission on a plea seeking abolition of a provision in election rules that provides for prosecution of an elector if a complaint alleging malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPATs turns out to be false.

Rule 49MA:

A petition alleged that Rule 49MA of ‘The Conduct of Elections Rules’ was unconstitutional as it criminalises reporting of malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails.

Under the rule, where printer for paper trail is used, if an elector after having recorded his vote under rule 49M alleges that the paper slip generated by the printer has shown the name or symbol of a candidate other than the one he voted for, the presiding officer shall obtain a written declaration from the elector as to the allegation, after warning the elector about the consequence of making a false declaration.

The rules outline that if after investigation, the allegation of EVM malfunctioning is found to be false or incorrect, then the complainant can be prosecuted under Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code for “furnishing false information”.

In such a case, a jail term of six months or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both is guaranteed.

Arguments and demands by the petitioner:

The obligation of proving an allegation cannot be on the voter when machines used for voting showed ‘arbitrary deviant behaviour’.

Putting the responsibility on the elector in cases of arbitrary deviant behaviour of machines used in the election process, infringes upon a citizen’s right to freedom of expression under the Constitution.

When an elector is asked to cast test vote as prescribed under Rule 49MA, he may not be able to reproduce the same result which he was complaining about, one more time in a sequence, because of the pre-programmed deviant behaviour of the electronic machines.

Therefore, the plea argued that holding an elector accountable for deviant behaviours of EVMs and VVPATs could deter them from coming forth and making any complaint, which is essential for improving the process.

Since only an elector could be a witness to the secrecy of his vote cast, it would violate Article 20(3) of the Constitution which says that no person accused of an offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Need of the hour:

The plea sought a direction to the EC to register a complaint of any deviant behaviour of equipment used in the election process. The petition said that presently, the burden of proof rests on the elector for reporting any deviant behaviour of EVMs and VVPATs, who will face criminal charges irrespective of whether the complaint was truthful and honest.

Source: The Hindu

Drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million a year by 2050

In News:

UN Ad Hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance has warned that Drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050.

Key findings:

By 2030, antimicrobial resistance could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty.

Currently, at least 7,00,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases, including 2,30,000 people who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

More and more common diseases, including respiratory tract infections, sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections, are becoming untreatable; lifesaving medical procedures are becoming riskier, and food systems are getting increasingly precarious.

What needs to be done?

Without investment from countries in all income brackets, future generations will face the disastrous impacts of uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance. Countries need to prioritise national action plans to scale-up financing and capacity-building efforts.

Countries must put in place stronger regulatory systems and support awareness programs for responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials by professionals in human, animal and plant health and invest in ambitious research and development for new technologies to combat antimicrobial resistance.

What is it?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.

The term is used in the context of resistance that pathogens or cancers have “acquired”, that is, resistance has evolved.

When an organism is resistant to more than one drug, it is said to be multidrug-resistant.

Why is antimicrobial resistance a global concern?

New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.

Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk.

Antimicrobial resistance increases the cost of health care with lengthier stays in hospitals and more intensive care required.

Antimicrobial resistance is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Source: The Hindu

Ban on burqa

The Sri Lanka government has issued a decree banning burqas and other face-covering garments, in light of the Easter Sunday attacks.

The law does not specifically name burqas, niqabs or hijab worn by many Muslim women.

A burqa is an outer garment that covers the entire body and the face, a niqab is a veil that also covers the face, while a hijab covers only the hair.

Concerns: Activists saying the move “violated Muslim women’s right to practice their religion freely”.

Bharati script

A team of scientists at IIT Madras have developed a method for reading documents in Bharati script using a multi-lingual optical character recognition (OCR) scheme.

What is Bharati script?

Bharati is a unified script for nine Indian languages which is being proposed as a common script for India. It is developed by an IIT Madras team.

Bharti script aims to bring down the communication barriers in India with a common script.

The scripts that have been integrated include Devnagari, Bengali, Gurmukhi, Gujarati, Oriya, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil. English and Urdu have not been integrated so far.

Indonesia to shift capital

Indonesia has announced its plans to move its capital away from Jakarta.

Need:

to ensure more equitable development of the country amid environmental concerns and overcrowding issues.

major concerns behind the move is traffic congestion in the Capital.

Another reason is that Jakarta is prone to annual flooding and is one of the world’s fastest sinking cities.

Oldest human footprint found in Chile

Scientists in Chile has recently found oldest single footprint at the paleo-archaeological site Pilauco (Osorno, Chile). It is a single footprint, discovered in Chile, dates back 15,600 years.

Green Car Loan launched by SBI

State Bank of India (SBI) has recently launched India’s first ‘Green Car Loan’ to encourage customers to buy electric vehicles.

Green Car Loan is part of its environment friendly commitment towards building a cleaner and greener environment. With this initiative, SBI has become India’s first bank to offer a loan specifically for electric cars.

Akademik Lomonosov

It is the world’s only floating nuclear power unit. The plant was launched by Russia on May 19, 2018 at the St Petersburg shipyard.

It is ready to start commercial operations in Russia. The power plant is ready to start generating power after a series of comprehensive and successful tests on its twin KLT-40 reactor system.

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