9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 11th, 2020

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A Giant fish is declared extinct — how do scientists conclude that?

News: Chinese researchers, based on the Red List criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), have concluded that Chinese Paddlefish is extinct.

Facts:

  • Chinese paddlefish, also known as the Chinese swordfish lived in Yangtze River in China. It dated back from 200 million years.
  • The researchers estimate that it became functionally extinct by 1993, and extinct sometime between 2005 and 2010.

Additional Information

Categories of Extinction by IUCN:

  1. Extinct in the wild: a species survives only in a captive environment
  2. Locally extinct: species has ceased to exist in a particular area but may exist in other areas.
  3. Functionally extinct: the species continues to exist but it has too few members to enable to reproduce meaningfully enough to ensure survival.
  4. Globally extinct: a species has no surviving member anywhere.

Home Minister Amit Shah dedicates National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal to nation

News: Union Minister for Home Affairs inaugurated the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) and also dedicated National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal to the Nation.

Facts:

Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)

  • It was approved in 2018 to combat cybercrime in India in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
  • It functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is located in New Delhi
  • It has seven components like the National Cybercrime Threat Analytics Unit, National Cybercrime Reporting Portal and National Cybercrime Forensic Laboratory Ecosystem etc.

National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal

  • It is a citizen-centric initiative that will enable citizens to report cybercrimes online through the portal.
  • All the cybercrime related complaints will be accessed by the concerned law enforcement agencies in the States and Union Territories for taking action as per law.

Additional Information:

  1. Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre): It provides for the detection of malicious programs and free tools to remove such programs.
  2. Cyber Surakshit Bharat Yojana: It was launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in association with National e-Governance Division (NeGD) and private players. It includes awareness programs on cyber security; workshops on best practices and enablement of the officials with cyber security health tool kits.

Nari Shakti Puraskar 2019 to be conferred on March 8

News: Nari Shakti Puraskar will be conferred on the 8th of March on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Facts:

About Nari Shakti Puraskar

  • It is conferred on eminent women and institutions rendering distinguished service to the cause of women.
  • The award was instituted by Ministry of Women & Child Development in 1999.

Additional Information:

International Women’s Day

  • During International Women’s Year 1975, United Nations designated 8th March to be celebrated as International Women’s Day (IWD) every year.
  • 2020 Theme: #IWD2020 #EachforEqual.

Women and Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

  • It is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • It was established in July 2010 and is headquartered in New York, USA

Climate news aggregator launches dashboard to track progress of air pollution management plan

News: Climate and energy news aggregator, http://www.carboncopy.info, has launched a dashboard — ncap.carboncopy.info — to track the progress of National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

Facts:

  • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched in 2019 by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). It is a five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
  • Aim: prevention, control and abatement of air pollution in India.
  • Target: 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5a and PM10 concentration by 2024, taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
  • Coverage: 122 non-attainment cities identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.

Features:

  • The NCAP requires cities to come up with city-specific plans for increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement.
  • The cities are required to implement specific measures in a time-bound manner. Example: ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust (within 60 days).

Additional Information:

Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Example: Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal etc.

NAAQS:

  • These are the standards for ambient air quality set by CPCB. Ambient air quality refers to the condition or quality of outdoor air.
  • 12 Pollutants covered under NAAQS are: Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, PM10, PM2.5, Ozone, Lead, Carbon monoxide, Ammonia, Benzene, Benzo (a) Pyrene (BaP) – particulate phase only, Arsenic, and Nickel.

Air Quality Index (AQI):

  • The AQI classifies air quality of a day considering criteria pollutants through colour codes and air quality descriptor. Further, it also links air quality with likely human health impacts.
  • The index measures eight major pollutants, namely, particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead.

Union Power Minister releases State Energy Efficiency Index 2019

News: Ministry of Power released State Energy Efficiency Index 2019

Facts:

About State Energy Efficiency Index

  • It tracks the progress of Energy Efficiency (EE) initiatives in 36 states and union territories based on 97 significant indicators. It was first released in 2018.
  • It is developed by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in association with Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE).

Objectives:

  • Help drive energy efficiency policies and program implementation at the state and local level.
  • Track progress in managing the states’ and India’s energy footprint.
  • Institutionalise data capture and monitoring of energy efficiency activities by states

Recommendation put forward for States in the State Energy Efficiency Index 2019

  • Proactive role by states in policy formulation and implementation
  • Strengthen the mechanism for data capture, management and public availability of data
  • Enhance the credibility of Energy Efficiency(EE) schemes

Additional Information:

Initiatives to Promote Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency

  1. Standards and Labelling: The BEE initiated the Standards and Labelling programme for equipment and appliances in 2006. It provides consumer knowledge about the energy efficiency of appliances through a star rating.  
  2. Energy Conservation Building Codes (ECBC): It was launched by the Ministry of Power in 2007.It sets minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings.
  3. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE): It is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It aims to strengthen the market for energy efficiency by creating a conducive regulatory and policy regime.
  4. Perform Achieve and Trade Scheme (PAT):  The scheme provides the option to trade any additional certified energy savings with other designated consumers to comply with the Specific Energy Consumption reduction targets.
  5. Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY): It is a PPP program comprising of BEE, Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) and private investors. It seeks to accelerate market transformation in energy-efficient lighting. 
  6. Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme: It seeks to promote efficient lighting and enhance awareness on using efficient equipment. 

Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)

  • The BEE is a statutory body under the Ministry of Power. It was set up under the provisions of Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
  • Its mission is to assist in developing policies with the primary objective of reducing energy intensity of the Indian Economy.

Purvodaya:Accelerated development of Eastern India through an Integrated Steel Hub

News:Ministry of steel in partnership with CII and JPC is organising the launch of Purvodaya-Accelerated Development of Eastern Region through an Integrated Steel hub.

Facts:

Background:

  • The Eastern region of India though extremely rich in resources lags behind other states in terms of development.
  • Hence,the Integrated Steel Hub was launched in Eastern states of India as it collectively hold ~80% of the country’s iron ore, ~100% of coking coal and significant portion of chromite, bauxite and dolomite reserves. 

About Integrated Steel Hub:

  • The initiative aims at developing the eastern states through an integrated steel hub.
  • The proposed Integrated Steel Hub would encompass the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Northern Andhra Pradesh.
  • The hub would enable swift capacity addition and improve overall competitiveness of steel producers both in terms of cost and quality. 
  • In addition to increased steel capacity, this hub would also help enhance best-in-class value addition capabilities. 

Components:The Integrated Steel Hub would focus on 3 key elements namely:

  • Capacity addition through easing the setup of greenfield steel plants
  • Development of steel clusters near integrated steel plants as well as demand centres
  • Transformation of logistics and utilities infrastructure which would change the socio-economic landscape in the East.

These elements would be supported through additional enablers such as ensuring the availability of raw materials, presence of supporting industries such as capital goods and well-established avenues for skill development.

Benefits of the Hub:

  • It would lead to socio-economic development in the Eastern region.
  • It helps in significant employment opportunities across the entire value chain creating over 2.5 Million jobs in the region.
  • It would also spur development in other manufacturing industries across sectors.

RBI chalks out financial inclusion strategy for 2024

News:TheReserve Bank of India has released the national strategy for financial inclusion.

Facts:

About the strategy:

  • The national strategy for financial inclusion sets forth the vision and key objectives of financial inclusion policies in India.
  • It also aims to provide access to formal and affordable financial services; broaden and deepen financial inclusion and promote financial literacy and consumer protection.

Key features of the strategy:

  • The strategy has said that wider acceptance and the adoption of digital payments will play a key role towards financial inclusion.
  • The strategy aims to see that every adult had access to a financial service provider through a mobile device by March 2024.
  • It has called for increasing outreach of banking outlets of scheduled commercial banks among others to provide banking access to every village within a 5 km radius of 500 households in hilly areas by March 2020.
  • It has also set a target that every willing and eligible adult who has been enrolled under the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana should be enrolled under an insurance scheme and a pension scheme by March 2020.
  • A strong regulatory and legal framework is also needed for protecting the interests of the customers, promoting fair practices and curbing market manipulations.
  • It has also suggested in making the public credit registry fully operational by March 2022 so that authorised financial entities can leverage on the same for assessing credit proposals from all citizens.

Additional information:

About Public Credit registry:

  • Public Credit Registry (PCR) has been set up by the Reserve Bank of India(RBI).
  • It refers to an extensive database of credit information of borrowers that is accessible to all lending and credit decision-making institutions.
  • It will be a single point of mandatory reporting for all information about each loan notwithstanding any threshold in the loan amount or type of borrower.

About Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY):

  • The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) was launched in 2014 with an aim to provide universal access to banking facilities to all households.
  • The objective of PMJDY is to ensure access to various financial services like (a)availability of basic savings bank account (b)access to need based credit (c)remittances facility (d)insurance and (e)pension to weaker sections and low income groups.

Right to access the internet a fundamental right, can’t be curbed arbitrarily: SC on J&K restrictions

News:The Supreme Court has ruled that the right to access the internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

Facts:

  • This ruling came on a petition on Internet blockade in Jammu and Kashmir due to revoking of Article 370.
  • The cases were also related to the impact of the prohibitory orders issued under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on press freedom.

Key takeaways from the judgement

Court on Suspension of Internet services:

  • The Supreme Court has directed the Jammu and Kashmir authorities to review all orders imposing curbs in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The court observed that suspending Internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services [Public Emergency or Public Service] Rules,2017.
  • The suspension could be done for temporary duration only and the same is subject to judicial review.

Court on Freedom of Speech and expression:

  • The apex court observed that the Freedom of speech and expression includes right to internet within Article 19 of the Constitution.
  • Hence,the restrictions on fundamental rights cannot be done by an arbitrary exercise of powers.It should follow the principles of the doctrine of proportionality under Article 19(2).
  • The doctrine of Proportionality postulates that the nature and extent of the State’s interference with the exercise of a right must be proportionate to the goal it seeks to achieve.

Court on Section 144:

  • The court said that Section 144 cannot be used to suppress the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or the exercise of democratic rights
  • The imposition of Section 144 must strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the concerns of the state.
  • Further,the powers under Section 144 should be exercised in a reasonable and bona fide manner and the order must state material facts in order to enable judicial review.

Additional information:

About Article 19:Article 19 of the Constitution lists the following as fundamental rights under the Protection of certain rights.It says all citizens shall have the right:

  • to freedom of speech and expression;
  • to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • to form associations or unions;
  • to move freely throughout the territory of India;
  • to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
  • to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Restrictions under Article 19:The only restrictions which may be imposed are those mentioned in clause (2) of Article 19.These are:

  • the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  • the security of the State,
  • friendly relations with foreign States,
  • public order, decency or morality
  • in relation to contempt of court, defamation or
  • incitement to an offence.

About Section 144:

  • Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC) of 1973 authorizes the Executive Magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area.
  • It is imposed in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger of some event that has the potential to cause trouble or damage to human life or property.

3 Indian cities under world’s 10 fastest growing cities: Economist Intelligence Unit

News:The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released a survey on the world’s fastest-growing urban areas in the World.

Facts:

About the survey:

  • The survey was based on the United Nations(UN) Populations data.
  • The survey has defined urban area as (a)All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board among others (b) Areas with a minimum population of 5,000 (c) Areas where at least 75% male working population are engaged in non-agriculture work and (d) Areas with a population density of 400 persons/sq.km.

Key takeaways from the survey:

  • The three cities namely Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kollam from Kerala were the only places from India to feature in the top 10.
  • Malappuram occupied the top spot in the world rankings.Further, Kozhikode occupied the fourth spot and Kollam was at tenth spot.
  • The top 10 list also figures cities from outside India including three cities from China, one each from Nigeria, Oman, UAE and Vietnam.
  • Other Indian cities that made the list were Thrissur in Kerala at 13th position, Gujarat’s Surat at 26 and Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur is at 30.

Additional information:

About the Economist Intelligence Unit(EIU):

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) was created in 1946.It is the research and analysis division of The Economist Group and the world leader in global business intelligence.

SBI announces ‘residential builder finance with buyer guarantee’ scheme

News:State Bank of India (SBI) has announced a ‘residential builder finance with buyer guarantee’ (RBBG) scheme.

Facts:

About the scheme:

  • The scheme aims to give a push to residential sales and improve home buyers confidence.
  • Under this scheme,the SBI will issue a guarantee for completion of select residential projects to customers who have availed home loans from it. 
  • The scheme will focus on affordable housing projects priced up to 2.50 crore rupees in 10 cities initially.
  • The guarantee would be given by the bank till the project gets the occupation certificate(OC).
  • However, the guarantee will be available only for RERA registered projects and a project will be considered stuck after it crosses the RERA deadline. 

Additional information:

About Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act(RERA),2016:

  • The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act(RERA),2016 seeks to regulate the real estate sector.It seeks to empower and protect property consumers and make transactions fair and transparent.
  • The act establishes Real Estate Regulatory Authority(RERA) in each state for regulation of the real estate sector and also acts as an adjudicating body for speedy dispute resolution.

India’s oil demand growth is set to overtake China by mid-2020s: IEA

News:The International Energy Agency(IEA) has released the India’s Energy Policy Report.

Facts:

About the report:

  • The report has been prepared by the International Energy Agency(IEA) in collaboration with NITI Aayog. 
  • The report aims to assist the government in meeting its energy policy objectives by setting out a range of recommendations in each area with a focus on energy system transformation, energy security and energy affordability. 

Key takeaways from the report:

Global Oil Consumption:

  • India ranks third in terms of global oil consumption after China and the United States.It ships over 80% of its oil needs of which 65% is from West Asia through the Strait of Hormuz.
  • The oil demand of India will overtake China by mid-2020.The Oil demand will reach 6 million barrels per day by 2024.It was 4.4 million barrels per day in 2017.
  • Hence,it will make India more vulnerable to supply disruption in the middle east. 

Refinery investments:

  • India is the fourth largest oil refiner in the world.The products mainly include diesel and gasoline.
  • The report said that India’s plan of increasing its refining capacity to 8 million barrels per day by 2025 will make India an attractive market for investment in the refinery sector.

Strategic reserves:

  • The IEA also coordinates release of strategic petroleum reserves(SPR) among developed countries in times of emergency.
  • The report has insisted that India should expand its strategic oil reserves.

Additional information:

About Strategic Oil reserves:

  • Strategic oil reserves are stockpiles of crude oil maintained by countries or private industries.They are meant to tackle emergency situations to counter short-term supply disruptions.
  • Under Phase I,India has built Strategic oil reserves at Mangalore (Karnataka), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Padur (Karnataka).
  • These reserves can store 5.33 MT(million tonnes) of emergency storage to meet India’s oil needs for 9.5 days.
  • In Phase-II,India plans to build an additional 6.5 million tonne facilities at Chandikhol(Odisha) and Padur(Karnataka) which is expected to add the emergency cover against any oil supply disruption by another 11.5 days.

Andhra Pradesh CM Launches Amma Vodi Scheme

News:Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has launched the flagship ‘Amma Vodi’ scheme’.

Facts:

About ‘Amma Vodi’ scheme’:

  • The scheme aims to provide direct financial assistance annually to poor and financially weak mothers or guardians to support them in educating their children.
  • Under the scheme,the students belonging to Below Poverty Line and students studying in classes I to XII will get Rs 15,000 per annum.
  • However,the guardian or mother of the child should ensure 75% attendance of the child.
  • The scheme will be applicable for all the government, private aided, private unaided schools/junior colleges.It will also include residential schools and colleges in the state.
  • But the scheme is not applicable to dropouts from school or colleges. Government employees and income taxpayers are also not eligible for the scheme.

Significance of the scheme:

  • The Amma Vodi scheme is the first-of-its-kind scheme in the country, which is aimed at bringing significant changes in the education system of Andhra Pradesh.

23rd National Youth Festival

News:Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and State Government of Uttar Pradesh are jointly organizing 23rd National Youth Festival (NYF) 2020 at Lucknow,UP.

Facts:

About National Youth Festival:

  • The National Youth Festival in India is an annual gathering of youth with various activities including competitive ones. 
  • The festival is being conducted since the year 1995.It is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
  • The objective of the festival is to provide a platform to bring the youth of the country together in an attempt to provide them the opportunity to showcase their talents in various activities.
  • It is organized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India in collaboration with one of the State Governments.
  • The theme of the 23rd National Youth Festival 2020 is ‘FIT YOUTH FIT INDIA’.

This word means: Coronavirus

News:Scientist has said that the mysterious respiratory illness that has affected dozens of people in a Chinese city may be caused by a new coronavirus.

Facts:

About Coronavirus:

  • A coronavirus is a common form of virus that typically causes upper-respiratory tract illness.The infections can range from common cold to others causing severe respiratory and intestinal diseases.
  • Human coronaviruses(HCoV) were first identified in the 1960s in the noses of patients with the common cold.
  • There are six different kinds of coronavirus which are known to infect humans.Four of these are common and most people will experience at least one of them at some time in their life.
  • The two other types causes SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which are less common but far more deadly.

Symptoms:

  • The common human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses like the common cold.
  • However,other human coronaviruses such as MERS and SARS have known to cause severe symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath which often lead to pneumonia.

Transmission:

  • These viruses can be spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing or sneezing, close personal contact like shaking hands and touching an object or surface with the virus on it.However,it rarely spread through faecal contamination.

Treatment:

  • There are no specific treatments for illnesses or diseases caused by coronaviruses which means there is no cure for a coronavirus infection.

Citizens can soon file grievances on CPGRAMS portal in Indian languages

News:During DARPG Hackathon,Minister of Personnel,Public Grievances and Pensions has said that citizens can soon lodge their grievances on the CPGRAMS portal in Indian languages.

Facts:

About DARPG Hackathon:

  • Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances under  Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions is conducting an Online Hackathon for inviting innovative solutions for the Citizen Grievance Redressal Mechanism. 
  • The basic objective of the hackathon is to provide technology driven solutions to improve the grievance redressal mechanism in the country.

About CPGRAMS:

  • Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) is an online web-enabled system.
  • The platform primarily aims to enable submission of grievances by the aggrieved citizens to Ministries or departments who scrutinize and take action for speedy and favorable redress of these grievances.
  • The platform has been developed by the National Informatics Centre in association with Directorate of Public Grievances(DPG) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances(DARPG).
  • The procedure involves designating a senior officer as the Director of Grievances/Grievance officer in every office to ensure that the system remains accessible and fixing the time limit for disposal of work relating to public grievances and staff grievances.
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