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Current Events 13 March 2017

 

NEWS 

13 March 2017 

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA UN

India to lose presence on U.N. scientific panel

2.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION

Endosulfan victims threaten fresh stir

3.

GS I : CULUTRE

Sea of humanity at Mylar cattle festival in Chittoor

4.

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Monkey fever claims one more life in Karnataka

5.

GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

SC cracks down on judicial delays

6.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-RUSSIA

Indo-Russian transport plane JV grounded

7.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-CHINA

MEA cuts funds to one more China think tank

8.

GS II : INTERNATIONAL BANGLADESH

Bangladesh declares March 25 as ‘Genocide Day’

9.

GS  II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

A life of struggle for Zika-affected families

10.

GS III : BILATERAL INDIA-CHINA

China poses security threat in power sector: trade body

11.

GS III : INFRASTRUCTURE

Cost overrun for infra projects hits Rs. 1.7 lakh cr.

12.

GS III : INFRASTRUCTURE

What is hyperloop? When can we see it?

13.

GS III : S&T  PHYSICS

Bio-inspired glue works under water

14.

GS III : S&T  HEALTH

Sweet spot in eye helps humans read

15.

GS  II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Antibiotic-free meat gets a foothold in U.S. as brands turn to organic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




GS II : BILATERAL  INDIA-UN

India to lose presence on U.N. scientific panel

  •  Even as India strenuously lobbies for seats in global high tables such as the United Nations Security Council and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, it will — for the first time in two decades — not have a member in a prestigious, U.N. scientific body that decides what portions of the seabed can be exclusively mined for natural resources such as oil, precious metals and minerals.
  •  India′s current member to the 21-person body, called Commission on Legal Continental Shelf (CLCS) and part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), told that he was “anguished” by India′s decision not to field a candidate for the upcoming election.
  •  According to officials of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the date to send a nomination lapsed on March 7.
  •  Multiple sources said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which formally nominates Indian candidates, chose to nominate a person to another U.N. body, called the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
  •  “The MoES is the nodal Ministry for the Law of the Sea-related issues. However, the MEA went on to nominate a retired Joint Secretary-level officer for ITLOS membership, whereas the MoES candidate for CLCS was not agreed to by the MEA,” an official source said.
  •  The CLCS has a five-year tenure and elections are due in June for the 2017-2022 term.
  •  Not having an Indian in this 21-member group would mean that China and Pakistan would likely “grab” two of the five seats allotted to the so-called Asia-Pacific group, Rasik Ravindra, India’s current member of the CLCS, said from New York.
  • Apart from signalling prestige, a membership of the commission allows India to gauge the scientific strength of claims by countries to parts of the seabed that, like territorial waters, are often hard to demarcate. Such information is privy only to participants.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 

  •  It is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place between 1973 and 1982.
  •  The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world′s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
  •  The Convention, concluded in 1982, replaced four 1958 treaties.
  •  UNCLOS came into force in 1994, a year after Guyana became the 60th nation to ratify the treaty.
  •  As of June 2016, 167 countries and the European Union have joined in the Convention. It is uncertain as to what extent the Convention codifies customary international law.
  • While the Secretary General of the United Nations receives instruments of ratification and accession and the UN provides support for meetings of states party to the Convention, the UN has no direct operational role in the implementation of the Convention.
  • There is, however, a role played by organizations such as the International Maritime Organization, the International Whaling Commission, and the International Seabed Authority (ISA). (The ISA was established by the UNCLOS.)

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) 

  •  It is an intergovernmental organization created by the mandate of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III).

International Seabed Authority (ISA)

  •  It was established by the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with responsibility for the regulation of seabed mining beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, that is beyond the limits of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone and the continental shelf.

 

GS III :  ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION

Endosulfan victims threaten fresh stir

  • Endosulfan Peeditha Jankeeya Munnani (EPJM), an organisation fighting for the cause of victims of the deadly pesticide, has accused the Kerala government of tardy implementation of various relief schemes for the affected families and threatened to launch fresh agitation in April.
  • Despite the Supreme Court verdict on disbursing the remaining National Human Rights Commission recommended compensation within three months, the State has moved slowly even as it has earmarked Rs.10 crore in the Budget, an EPJM meeting said on 12 March 2017.
  • Stating that the last medical camp to identify fresh victims was held in 2013, the continuing delay in holding the assured medical camps on flimsy reasons should be construed as an irresponsible approach adopted by the medical officials, the meeting said.
  • It was quite unfortunate that there was no respite from frequent property attachment threats to those forced to take loans to meet mounting medical expenses as a result of exposure to the pesticide, the organisers said, though the State government had assured that the moratorium on the loans would be extended.
  • The victims are continued to be deprived of life-saving medicines and pensions and hence the EPJM was constrained to launch an indefinite agitation from April, the meeting said.

GS I : CULUTRE

Sea of humanity at Mylar cattle festival in Chittoor

  • After a hiatus of seven years, the frenzied mass cattle festival Mylar returned to the Baireddipalle mandal headquarters, 60 km from Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The mob frenzy left two bulls killed, while about 10 youth received minor injuries as they ran after the animals.
  • Mylar is a unique festival of Baireddipalle - celebrating the cattle festival and local Gangamma jatara (a mass devotional ritual) simultaneously.
  • The traditional contest of bulls was suspended seven years ago, reportedly due to feuds among some of the villages in the mandal.
  • The public support to Tamil Nadu′s Jallikattu and the Supreme Court′s conducive verdict on the traditional event have in recent weeks galvanised the spirit of the villagers of the mandal in the tri-State junction to revive it.

 

GS II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Monkey fever claims one more life in Karnataka

  • With another death because of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), also known as monkey fever, the death toll due to this tickborne viral infection in Tirthahalli taluk of Shivamogga, Karnataka this year has reached four.
  • A total 44 positive cases of KFD have been reported in Tirthahalli taluk so far this year.


GS II: POLITY JUDICIARY

SC cracks down on judicial delays

  • Highlighting the importance of having men and women with leadership qualities among the subordinate judiciary, which has over two crore pending cases, the Supreme Court said subordinate judiciary "cannot rest in a state of helplessness" as litigants wait in snaking, ever-longer queues for their turn.
  • "Judicial service as well as legal service are not like any other services. They are missions for serving the society... Posting of suitable officers in key leadership positions of Session Judges and Chief Judicial Magistrates may perhaps go a long way in dealing with the situation.
  • Non performers/deadwood must be weeded out as per rules," the Supreme Court said.
  • The Supreme Court suggested that bail applications be decided in a week by subordinate courts, while High Courts do the same within a month.
  • The court said magisterial trials, where accused are in custody, should normally be concluded within six months and sessions trials, with accused in custody, within two years.
  • The Supreme Court asked the High Courts to ensure that subordinate courts dispose of cases pending for five years by the end of 2017.
  • In case of High Courts, the judgment said criminal appeals, where accused are in custody for more than five years, should be concluded at the earliest.
  • Noting that High Courts should monitor action plans for lower courts and keep a constant watch, the Supreme Court said the timelines prescribed in the judgment would be used to assess judicial performance in the annual confidential reports of judicial officers.
  • Noting that 50% of the population in jails consists of undertrial prisoners and long periods of incarceration without bail or trial is human rights violation, the judgment said those undertrials who have already completed their entire period of their sentence had they been found guilty should be released on personal bond.
  • The court held that liberal adjournments of cases must be avoided and witnesses once produced must be examined on consecutive dates.
  • It held that suspension of work or strikes were "clearly illegal and it is high time that the legal fraternity realises its duty to the society which is the foremost".


GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-RUSSIA

Indo-Russian transport plane JV grounded

  • It may now be just a matter of time before Multi-role Transport Aircraft Ltd. (MTAL), the Indo-Russian company that was to have spawned India′s own military transport aircraft, is wound up.
  • The closure of the company, when it happens, will formally bury a decade-old plan to co-design and co-develop a cargo/transport plane for the armed forces of the two nations.
  • The project appears to have gone cold at least a year back and there has been no official word on the status of the government-to-government deal, whereas Russia is reportedly going ahead with its new plane for its armed forces, according to sources.
  • The board of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which is an equal partner in the venture, may take the matter to its closure once it gets the nod, it is learnt.
  • According to the old plan, the 15-20-tonne medium lift plane would replace the ageing Antonov /An-32 transport planes.
  • The demand was estimated at 205 MTAs - 45 for the Indian Air Force, 100 for the Russian Air Force and another 60 for exports.
  • Earlier, reports said problems such as an incompatible engine design, performance issues at higher altitudes and cost escalation had cropped up.
  • While the An-32s are now proposed to be upgraded, this can only be done with the help of Ukraine, which is in conflict with Russia.
  • In December 2015, three joint projects were alive between the two countries: the MTA, the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and the light helicopter Kamov Ka-226. But the line for the MTA appears to have died, the sources said.

GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-CHINA

MEA cuts funds to one more China think tank

  • After cancelling a fund for the prestigious Delhi-based Institute for Chinese Studies (ICS), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has reportedly informed another research group on China that it will not be able to support their programmes.
  • In the past few weeks, the MEA has come under criticism for its decision to revise many of the grants and funds it disburses to think tanks.
  • While the ministry declined to comment on the criticism, a senior MEA official told that the cuts were not the outcome of larger budget cuts from the government, but had been taken on the basis of "the performance and delivery" of think tanks that have been allocated a combined Rs. 6.5 crore in the Budget.
  • While the ICS had seen an annual fund outlay of Rs. 1 crore cancelled and replaced with funding on a "project by project" basis, sources said the AAS was told its seminars and programmes could not be funded as they were too "academic in nature, and not helpful in the governments policy design".
  • Fellows of the ICS as well as the AAS did not wish to speak about whether their fund cut came because of what one official called "diametrically opposite positions to the government" on important issues like Chinas Belt & Road initiative as well as on border talks.
  • Responding to other criticism on the governments decision to support programmes organised by foreign think tanks, including a Global Technology Summit conducted by the India arm of the Carnegie think tank in Bangalore, the MEA official said recent entrants to India like Carnegie, Brookings Institution etc., are no longer considered foreign.
  • "These are hardly foreign think tanks any more, as they are staffed mostly by Indians," the official said, acknowledging that the decisions mark a shift from previous MEA policy and were part of a "revamp" of the policy planning division that now handles all think tank funding.


GS II : INTERNATIONAL BANGLADESH

Bangladesh declares March 25 as ‘Genocide Day’

  • Bangladeshs unanimously adopted a resolution declaring March 25 as Genocide Day, in remembrance of the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani Army in the night of March 25, 1971.
  • Operation Searchlight’ had begun in the first hours of March 25 in Dhaka.
  • Condemning the denial of history by Pakistan, the Bangladeshi legislators passed the motion unanimously after a marathon seven-hour discussion on 11 March 2017 night.
  • The Pakistan Army swooped on unarmed civilians on the night of March 25, 1971, to crush the Bengali rebellion following refusal by the military leadership to accept the election results of 1970 in which the Awami League got thumping majority.
  • MPs also suggested that the government take initiative so that December 9, marked by the UN as international day of commemoration of genocide, sees the March 25 victims being commemorate as well.


GS  II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

A life of struggle for Zika-affected families

  • In November 2016, the World Health Organization lifted its emergency designation from the mosquito-borne virus, but Zika has hardly disappeared.
  • For families of Zika babies, however, the disastrous effects are only deepening.
  • Many babies also have a long list of varied symptoms, leading experts to rename their condition "congenital Zika syndrome".
  • They can have seizures, breathing problems, trouble swallowing, weakness and stiffness in muscles and joints preventing them from even lifting their heads, clubbed feet, vision and hearing problems, and ferocious irritability.
  • While the children are still small enough to be held, fed and carried, ultimately, many may be unable to walk, attend regular schools, or live on their own as adults.


GS II : BILATERAL INDIA-CHINA

China poses security threat in power sector: trade body

  • A bid by Chinese, state owned companies to enter India′s power transmission sector has raised national security concerns in Indian power gear circles.
  • Local power gear makers′ lobby group, the Indian Electrical Equipment Manufacturers Association (IEEMA), has raised a red flag over the issue.
  • After entering the consumer goods and power generation equipment market in India, Chinese firms are now eyeing the nascent transmission sector where multi-billion dollar contracts are up for grabs.
  • China Southern Power Grid International (HK Company Ltd.), a subsidiary of state-owned China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd., has partnered with CLP India Private Ltd. to build power transmission networks in India.
  • Several Chinese firms are gearing up to participate in bids invited by Central sector and State sector utilities for establishment, operation and maintenance of transmission lines for periods ranging from 25 to 35 years.
  • According to IEEMA, electricity transmission is a critical infrastructure for the economy and has significant bearing on the national security.
  • The outage of one transmission element can have a cascading impact and can lead to a grid blackout situation, putting the military establishment, internal law and security and hospitals at a great risk, It said that from the points of view of data security and control on data communication, these are critical assets.


GS III : INFRASTRUCTURE

Cost overrun for infra projects hits Rs. 1.7 lakh cr

  • As many as 287 infrastructure projects worth Rs. 150 crore or above each, including those delayed, have seen a cost overrun of Rs. 1.66 lakh crore., according to the Statistics Ministry′s latest flash report for December 2016.
  • The 1,186 projects in question include 287 that reported cost overrun and 336 that reported time escalation.
  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation keeps track of such projects on time and cost overruns through its online computerisation monitoring system (OCMS) based on information provided by project implementation agencies.


GS III : INFRASTRUCTURE

What is hyperloop? When can we see it?

  • The term hyperloop has suddenly taken the India by storm, with everybody having an opinion on the best route in India to deploy the futuristic transportation system.

What is a hyperloop?

  • It was entrepreneur Elon Musk who came up with the idea for a hyperloop.
  • It is a system where magnetically levitating capsules are sent at high speeds through lowpressure tubes, thereby potentially reducing transport time - of people and goods - by more than 80%.
  • Such a system is now being developed to connect Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Any pros and cons? 

  • If approved, such plans would enable India to jump forward in its transport infrastructure and could revolutionise the way business is conducted.
  • Businesses are likely to pay for the premium charged to be able to schedule meetings and presentations cities apart, all in the same day.
  • And this doesn′t even factor in the potential benefits to the goods transport industry.
  • But in a country like India, the flip side of such a system is also clearly visible. At a time when railway infrastructure is abysmal and the airline industry is priced beyond the abilities of most of the populace, can India really afford another transport system only to be used by businesses and businesspeople?


GS III : S&T  PHYSICS

Bio-inspired glue works under water

  • Scientists, drawing inspiration from substances shellfish create to stick to surfaces, have developed a super strong adhesive that works under water.
  • The bio-based glue performed better than 10 commercial adhesives when used to bond polished aluminium.
  • "Our current adhesives are terrible at wet bonding, yet marine biology solved this problem eons ago," said Jonathan Wilker, a professor at Purdue University in the US. "Poly (catechol-styrene) is looking to be, possibly, one of the strongest underwater adhesives found to date," he said.


GS III : S&T  HEALTH

Sweet spot in eye helps humans read

  • A team led by Kolkata-born scientists has found that a special sweet spot in the eye called ‘fovea’ plays a crucial role in humans being able to focus on computer screens and also read, an ability which is unique to Homo sapiens.
  • The findings decipher the mechanism that lets humans read the text, recognise faces, enjoy colours, say the scientists.
  • The fovea is a specialised region that dominates our visual perception. It provides more than half of the input from the eyes to the visual cortex of the brain.
  • The fovea is responsible for our visual experiences that are rich in colourful spatial detail.
  • Located near the optic nerve, the fovea is at its best for fine tasks like reading.
  • The latest study provides one of the first glimpses into how the fovea works at a cellular and circuit level.
  • The results help explain why central and peripheral vision have different qualities.
  • Compared to the peripheral retina, however, the fovea is less able to process rapidly changing visual signals.
  • This low sensitivity is what makes us see motion in flipbooks and movies.
  • Among mammals, only humans and other primates have this dimple like structure in their retinas. Owls, some other predatory birds, and some reptiles have a similar structure.


GS  II : SOCIAL-HEALTH

Antibiotic-free meat gets a foothold in U.S. as brands turn to organic

  • Facing pressure from environmentalists and shareholder activists, major U.S. food companies and restaurant chains are moving to limit antibiotics in farm animals raised for meat.
  • There is a trend of large companies limiting pharmaceuticals that scientists believe increases drug resistance for treating pneumonia, infections and other illnesses in humans.
  • In voluntary guidelines that took effect in January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said antibiotics in agriculture should be limited to medically necessary uses and not for weight gain.
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