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Current Events 23 January 2017

 

 NEWS 

23 JANUARY 2017

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS I: CULTURE

TN CM fails to convince protesters; 2 die in jallikattu

2.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

39 killed, over 50 injured as Hirakhand Express derails

3.

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Derailments rise but safety reports gather dust

4.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT

Indian model to predict impact of climate change

5.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL USA

After protests, Trump wages war against media

6.

GS III :   ECONOMY

Curbs on outsourcing may hit U.S. economy: Nasscom

7.

GS III: ECONOMY

No snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast

8.

GS III: S&T HEALTH

Ugandans invent ‘smart jacket’ to diagnose pneumonia quickly


GS I: CULTURE

TN CM fails to convince protesters; 2 die in jallikattu

  • A day after Tamil Nadu promulgated an ordinance to conduct jallikattu, a bull-tamer and a spectator were gored to death by bulls and 129 spectators injured at an event in Raapusal village in Pudukottai district, Tamil Nadu.
  • Also, a hostile crowd forced Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam to return without inaugurating the event at Alanganallur in Madurai.
  • Across the State, protesters refused to leave venues, demanding that the ordinance be replaced with a legislation, which they see as a “permanent” approval to conduct the rural sport sans legal impediment.
  • The protesters refused to accept Mr. Panneerselvam’s assurance that a legislation will be enacted in the Assembly session to commence soon.

 

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

39 killed, over 50 injured as Hirakhand Express derails

  • As many as 39 passengers lost their lives and over 50 were injured when the engine and nine coaches of the Hirakhand Express, bound for Bhubaneswar from Jagdalpur, derailed near the Kuneru railway station in Vizianagaram district.
  • Five NDRF teams were rushed to the accident site to assist the RPF, CRPF and Odisha Rapid Disaster Action Force teams in rescue and relief operations. Two AC coaches, four sleeper coaches, two general compartments and the guard-cum-passenger coach, besides the engine, were affected, with four coaches overturning.
  • The derailment was caused by a suspected rail fracture at a few places near the railway cabin ahead of the Kuneru station. 

GS III: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Derailments rise but safety reports gather dust

  • The Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) is yet to submit the preliminary finding report of the Patna-bound Indore-Rajendranagar Express derailment that took place two months back in November 2016 in which at least 146 people lost their lives.
  • A Railway Ministry official said the CRS, under administrative control of the Civil Aviation Ministry, hasn’t submitted its report yet as the sabotage angle is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
  • The delay in submitting the report assumes significance as yet another derailment of the Hirakhand Express in Andhra Pradesh has claimed the lives of 39 persons with over 50 injured.

Rising cases of derailment:

  • The Railways was recently rapped by a Parliamentary panel for failing to establish the causes behind rising derailment cases this year.
  • According to a Railway Board official, there were 68 derailments till December 2016, compared to 65 in the previous year — a six-year high.

Track renewal inadequate:

  • Derailments happen due to fault in either railway tracks or the rolling stock.
  • The Standing Committee on Railways in its recent ‘Safety and Security in Railways’ report said the Railways has failed in maintaining safety standards of the rail tracks. “…track forms the backbone of the rail transportation system and therefore, needs to be maintained in a safe and fit condition. However, in the instant case there seems to be total failure in regard to maintaining the safety standards of their tracks,” the Standing Committee had said in its report tabled in Lok Sabha on December 14.
  • It said that ideally 4,500 kilometres of the rail tracks should have been renewed annually out of the total track length of 1,14,907 kms. However, out of 5,000 km track length due for renewal at present, only 2,700 km track was targeted to be renewed by the Railways.

Human error unchecked:

  • The Standing Committee also criticised the Railways for failing to address the human error involved in rail accidents. Around 70 % of the rail accidents in 2015-16 occurred due to the fault of railway staff such as poor maintenance, non-adherence to safety rules and adopting short-cuts, according to official reports.

GS III : ENVIRONMENT

Indian model to predict impact of climate change

  • Scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, are likely to unveil in December 2017 a computerised model that can forecast the impact of climate change on the Indian monsoon until 2100.
  • This model is significant because it is the first time India will be submitting a home-grown assessment to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body convened by the United Nations, and hugely influential to policymakers and governments on the risks posed by climate change.
  • A test version of the model is already available on websites of research groups affiliated to the IPCC.
  • The IPCC summarises projections from such models, developed by scientists from around the world, to report on the level of consensus, among scientists, of the extent to which specific pollutants and gases — from carbon dioxide to particulate matter — interfere with weather patterns and ocean temperatures.
  • So far, IITM scientists have customized significant parts of a model, called CFS 2 (Climate Forecast System version 2) and used it to give three month forecasts of the Indian monsoon, to project how the it will be altered by climate change over the next century.
  • To be viable, the model has to first reasonably simulate land and ocean temperatures that existed in the 1850s, or before the carbon dioxide spewing Industrial Revolution, and also capture droughts and floods in the years up to the present.

Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM)

  • The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology or IITM is a scientific institution based in India for expanding research in meteorology of the tropics in general with special reference to monsoon meteorology of India.
  • The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) was founded in 1962 at Pune as an individual unit of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the main organisation responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasts, and detecting earthquakes in India.  
  • In1971, it was made an autonomous institution.
  • Till 1984, it worked under the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.
  • In 1985, it was taken by the Department of Science and Technology/ Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • It has been presently put under the control of the Ministry of Earth Sciences since 2006.
  • Aaditya HPC (High Performance Computing), one of the largest computational capacity of India is located at IITM. It is a common facility for all MoES institutions.

 

 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments, dedicated to the task of providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts.
  • It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53.
  • Membership of the IPCC is open to all members of the WMO and UNEP.
  • The IPCC produces reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the main international treaty on climate change.
  • The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [i.e., human-induced] interference with the climate system".
  • IPCC reports cover "the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.
  • The IPCC does not carry out its own original research, nor does it do the work of monitoring climate or related phenomena itself. The IPCC bases its assessment on the published literature, which includes peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources.
  • Thousands of scientists and other experts contribute (on a voluntary basis, without payment from the IPCC) to writing and reviewing reports, which are then reviewed by governments. IPCC reports contain a "Summary for Policymakers", which is subject to line-by-line approval by delegates from all participating governments. Typically this involves the governments of more than 120 countries.
  • The IPCC provides an internationally accepted authority on climate change, producing reports which have the agreement of leading climate scientists and the consensus of participating governments.
  • The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was shared, in equal parts, between the IPCC and Al Gore.


 
GS II: INTERNATIONAL USA

After protests, Trump wages war against media

  • More than half a million people filled to the brim the National Mall in the U.S. capital to protest against Mr. Trump, rivalling the crowds that witnessed his oath the previous day at the same place.
  • Protesters marched in several cities across the U.S, in an unprecedented outpouring of public anger against a President on his second day in office.
  • No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” protesters chanted as they walked past the White House, referring to the Ku Klux Klana white supremacist organisation that had supported Mr. Trump.
  • The marches formed the biggest protest in the country’s history. One of the biggest earlier was the 1982 anti-nuclear march in New York City that drew a crowd of around a million. The 1969 anti-Vietnam war protest in Washington had an estimated attendance of five to six lakh people.
  • President Donald Trump hit back, targeting his ire at the media. Mr. Trump was angry with the media for comparing the crowd at his inauguration with Mr. Obama’s earlier.

 

Ku Klux Klan (KKK)

  • It is the name of three distinct movements in the United States that have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration, and, especially in later iterations, Nordicism, anti-Catholicism, and anti-semitism.
  • Historically the KKK used terrorism, both physical assault and murder, against groups or individuals whom they opposed.
  • All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society, and all are considered right wing extremist organizations.

1.      The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s.

2.      The second group was founded in 1915. It was rooted in local Protestant communities and opposed Catholics and Jews, and stressed its opposition to the Catholic Church at a time of high immigration from mostly Catholic nations of southern and eastern Europe.

3.      The third and current manifestation of the KKK emerged after 1950, in the form of small, local, unconnected groups that use the KKK name. They have focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists.


GS III :   ECONOMY

Curbs on outsourcing may hit U.S. economy: Nasscom

  • India’s IT industry has warned about the adverse impact that curbs on outsourcing will have on the U.S. economy, which lacks high-skilled workers.
  • The country’s premier trade body, Nasscom, will be taking a delegation to the U.S. in February 2017 in an attempt to reach out to the new administration.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump had promised to follow a ‘Buy American, Hire American’ policy in his inaugural speech on January 21 in Washington.
  • More than 60% of the Indian IT industry’s $108-billion export revenue comes from the U.S.
  • Due to shortfalls in college graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), entering the STEM workforce, there could be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs in the U.S. by 2018 — with more than half of these vacancies in computer and IT related skills.
  • The Nasscom president said even in colleges and universities in the U.S., more than 50% of the students are foreigners in STEM courses.
  • “So, even if you want to hire people from American universities, you can only hire them on visa because they are foreigners as well.”
  • On creation of jobs in America, he noted that the Indian industry hires a lot of people, including Americans. According to a 2015 report, the industry had created more than 4 lakh jobs in the U.S., including 150,000 direct employment positions.
  • Mr. Chandrasekhar highlighted that the problem is “discriminatory”, referring to provisions implemented by the U.S. to curb immigration of high skilled workers.
  • The restrictions which were imposed in terms of higher cost of visa is applicable only to so called 50-50 companies, which is actually only the Indian companies.
  • So, the definition has been crafted in a way that only Indian companies get affected and even some of the other bills which have been introduced are only targeting so called 50-50 companies.
  • He also pointed out that Indian companies actually account for little over 15% of H1-B visas issued.
  • He had further pointed out the Indian IT industry’s investments in the U.S. were to the tune of $2 billion between 2011-13 and in the four-year period between 2011-15, Indian IT industry had paid $20 billion in taxes.

National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM)

  • It is a trade association of Indian Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. 
  • Established in 1988, NASSCOM is a non-profit organisation. It is registered under the Indian Societies Act, 1860.
  • NASSCOM is a global trade body with over 2000 members, of which over 250 are companies from the China, EU, Japan, US and UK. 
  • NASSCOMs member companies are in the business of software development, software services, software products, IT-enabled/BPO services and E-Commerce.
  • NASSCOM facilitates business and trade in software and services and encourages the advancement of research in software technology

 

50-50 rule:

  • The most controversial new rule bars companies with more than 50 U.S. employees from getting any additional work visas if more than 50 percent of their US workforce is made up of H-1B or L-1 visa holders.

GS III: ECONOMY

No snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast

  • Ever since the National Stock Exchange (NSE) came into existence in 1994, it has always been perceived to be one step ahead of its much older rival, BSE, whose origins date all the way back to 1875, making it Asia’s oldest stock exchange.
  • But, the much-older exchange, which also claims to be the fastest in terms of trading speed of six micro seconds, has pipped NSE on the way to becoming the first publicly-listed stock exchange of India.
  • The initial public offer (IPO) of BSE has opened and shares are being offered in the band of Rs. 805-806.
  • Prominent institutional investors like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, The Washington University, Citigroup, Kuwait Investment Authority Fund, ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund, DSP Blackrock Alternative Investment Fund and Kotak Mutual Fund among others have participated in the offer.
  • It is a fact that anyone wanting to own a pie in the Indian stock exchange segment cannot ignore BSE.
  • Incidentally, for the financial year ended March 31, 2016, BSE reported a net profit of Rs. 159.15 crore.
  • While the exchange boasts of a good track record in terms of profit and a cash kitty, there are problem areas for which it has been trying to find solutions for years.
  • Equity derivatives is one segment where BSE has been trying to get a foothold for many years now.
  • Interestingly, BSE’s CEO Ashishkumar Chauhan has, on numerous occasions, said that derivatives were not instruments of capital formation and so the success of an exchange should not be solely measured in terms of derivatives turnover, an obvious jibe at rival NSE that boasts of a near-monopoly in equity futures and options.
  • While it has clearly lost the battle in equity derivatives, it has neatly stolen the show in the SME space.
  • BSE has more than 160 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) listed on its platform, much higher than NSE that has just more than 30 such entities. Both, BSE and NSE started their SME platform in 2012.
  • On the mutual fund platform of stock exchanges as well, there are more trades pouring in through the BSE compared to that of the NSE. The older exchange has also been able to create a place for itself in the currency derivatives segment.
  • While these are obvious successes, it still has to hold on to its pie in the equity segment, where again NSE has grabbed a lion’s share. On an average, BSE sees a daily turnover in the range of Rs. 2,500 crore and Rs. 3,000 crore. This is much lower than that of NSE that clocks more than Rs. 17,000 crore on most days.
  • The exchange is also betting big on GIFT City, having operationalised its wholly-owned subsidiary India International Exchange (INX), which will function 22 hours a day, five days a week.
  • The IPO of BSE would see some of its prominent shareholders exit the bourse. While more than 300 entities – individuals, brokerages, institutional investors, exchanges – are selling their shares as part of the public issue, Singapore Exchange, Quantum (M) and Atticus Mauritius – among the top 10 shareholders – will completely exit the bourse.
  • Market participants said that while the complete exit of Singapore Exchange along with the partial sell-off by global exchange investor Caldwell Holdings Inc. could be looked as a negative, the decision of the Deutsche Boerse to stay invested would be seen as positive.
  • Interestingly, domestic institutional investors like State Bank of India (SBI) and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) have chosen not to sell any shares as part of the public issue. While SBI has a stake of 4.75% in the BSE, LIC owns 4.68%.
  • India has restrictions on the ownership of exchanges. Only a few categories of investors are allowed to hold up to 15% in an exchange and most have to be content at 5%.
  • Interestingly, there are relaxed norms for exchanges located at International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) like GIFT City at Gujarat and BSE is clearly eager to be at the forefront.

GS III: S&T HEALTH

Ugandans invent ‘smart jacket’ to diagnose pneumonia quickly

  • A team of Ugandan engineers has invented a “smart jacket” that diagnoses pneumonia faster than a doctor, offering hope against a disease which kills more children worldwide than any other.
  • The idea came to Olivia Koburongo, 26, after her grandmother fell ill, and was moved from hospital to hospital before being properly diagnosed with pneumonia.
  • “It was too hard to keep track of her vitals, of how she’s doing, and that is how I thought of a way to automate the whole process and keep track of her health.”
  • Ms. Koburongo took her idea to fellow telecommunications engineering graduate Brian Turyabagye, 24, and together with a team of doctors they came up with the “Mama-Ope” (Mother’s Hope) kit made up of a biomedical smart jacket and a mobile phone application which does the diagnosis.
  • Pneumonia — a severe lung infection — kills up to 24,000 Ugandan children under the age of five per year, many of whom are misdiagnosed as having malaria, according to the UN children’s agency UNICEF.
  • A lack of access to laboratory testing and infrastructure in poor communities means health workers often have to rely on simple clinical examinations to make their diagnoses.
  • With the easy-to-use Mama-Ope kit, health workers merely have to slip the jacket onto the child, and its sensors will pick up sound patterns from the lungs, temperature and breathing rate.
  • The processed information is sent to a mobile phone app (via Bluetooth) which analyses the information in comparison to known data so as to get an estimate of the strength of the disease,” said Mr. Turyabagye.
  • The jacket, which is still only a prototype, can diagnose pneumonia up to three times faster than a doctor and reduces human error, according to studies done by its inventors.
  • The team is also working on patenting the kit, which is shortlisted for the 2017 Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize.
  • “Once it is successful (in Uganda) we hope it is rolled out to other African countries and major parts of the world where pneumonia is killing thousands of children,” said Ms. Koburongo.
  • According to UNICEF, most of the 900,000 annual deaths of children under five due to pneumonia occur in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. This is more than other causes of childhood death such as diarrhoea, malaria, meningitis or HIV infections.


 

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