July 22, 2017 @ 1:00 am

22st JULY  2017


1.      5G

  • 5th generation mobile networks (5G), are the proposed next telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards.
  • 5G planning aims at higher capacity than current 4G, allowing a higher density of mobile broadband users, and supporting device-to-device, ultra reliable, and massive machine communications.
  • 5G research and development also aims at lower latency than 4G equipment and lower battery consumptionfor better implementation of the Internet of things.
  • There is currently no standard for 5G deployments.

2.      Internet of things (IoT)

  • It is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
  • In 2013, the Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defined the IoT as “a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication technologies,” and for these purposes a “thing” is “an object of the physical world (physical things) or the information world (virtual things), which is capable of being identified and integrated into communication networks”.
  • The IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit in addition to reduced human intervention.
  • IoT is one of the platforms of today’s Smart City, and Smart Energy Management Systems.

3.      War Wastage Reserve (WWR) ammunition

  • WWR is the reserve quantity of ammunition needed to meet the requirements for the expected duration of operations.
  • As per the operational doctrine, India is required to maintain a war wastage reserve (WWR) of 40 days of ‘intense war’ and it is militarily called the ‘40-I’.
  • The CAG, in its follow-up audit on the measures taken after the CAG’s earlier report on “Ammunition Management in Army,” tabled in 2015, noted that, “despite a lapse of more than three years (from March 2013) no significant improvement in the availability of WWR ammunition was noticed in audit.”
  • Even the second CAG report on ammunition management had pointed out that the army faced a massive ammunition shortage with reserves that would barely last 20 days of intense fighting.

4.      Bofors scandal

  • The Bofors scandal was a major political scandal that occurred between Sweden and India during the 1980s and 1990s.
  • It implicated the then Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and several other members of the Swedish and Indian governments who were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB for winning a bid to supply India’s 155 mm field howitzer.
  • A US$1.4 billion deal was struck between the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors with the government of India for the sale of 410 field howitzer guns, and a supply contract almost twice that amount.
  • It was the biggest arms deal ever in Sweden, and money marked for development projects was diverted to secure this contract at any cost.
  • The case came into light during Vishwanath Pratap Singh’s tenure as defence minister, and was revealed through investigative journalism tipped off by a Reuters news revelation on Swedish radio, followed up by a team led by N. Ram of the newspaper The Hindu.

5.      Dhanush guns

  • It is the indigenised version of the Bofors artillery guns which performed exceedingly well during the Kargil conflict in 1999.
  • The purchase of Bofors gun in the 1980’s included the technology transfer to the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
  • The Dhanush project was started by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
  • Three Dhanush guns have been handed over to the Indian Army for user trials on July 2016.

6.      Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 has been drafted to strengthen the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation
  • Sexual offences are currently covered under different sections of IPC. However, the IPC does not provide for all types of sexual offences against children and, more importantly, does not distinguish between adult and child victims.
  • Definition of child, offences and punishments:

1.       The Act defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.

2.       These offences have been clearly defined for the first time in law.

3.       The Act provides for stringent punishments, which have been graded as per the gravity of the offence.

4.       The punishments range from simple to rigorous imprisonment of varying periods.

5.       There is also provision for fine, which is to be decided by the Court.

6.       An offence is treated as “aggravated” when committed by a person in a position of trust or authority of child such as a member of security forces, police officer, public servant, etc.

7.       The Act recognizes that the intent to commit an offence, even when unsuccessful for whatever reason, needs to be penalized. The attempt to commit an offence under the Act has been made liable for punishment for up to half the punishment prescribed for the commission of the offence.

8.       The Act also provides for punishment for abetment of the offence, which is the same as for the commission of the offence. This would cover trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

9.       For the more heinous offences of Penetrative Sexual Assault, Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault, the burden of proof is shifted on the accused.

10.    At the same time, to prevent misuse of the law, punishment has been provided for making false complaint or providing false information with malicious intent.

  • Special provisions and Special Court

11.    The Act provides for the establishment of Special Courts for trial of offences under the Act, keeping the best interest of the child as of paramount importance at every stage of the judicial process.

12.    To provide for relief and rehabilitation of the child, as soon as the complaint is made to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) or local police, these will make immediate arrangements to give the child, care and protection such as admitting the child into shelter home or to the nearest hospital within twenty-four hours of the report.

13.     The SJPU or the local police are also required to report the matter to the Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of recording the complaint, for long term rehabilitation of the child.

14.    The Act incorporates child friendly procedures for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences.

15.    For speedy trial, the Act provides for the evidence of the child to be recorded within a period of 30 days.

16.    Also, the Special Court is to complete the trial within a period of one year, as far as possible.

17.    The media has been barred from disclosing the identity of the child without the permission of the Special Court.

18.    The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have been made the designated authority to monitor the implementation of the Act.

7.      Right to Education Act, 2009

  • The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 inserted Article 21A in the Indian constitution making Education a fundamental Right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 years.
  • This amendment, however, specified the need for a legislation to describe the mode of implementation of the same.
  • The Right to Education (RTE) Act, i.e. Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 has been enacted.
  • Its key provisions are:

1.       It provides for free and compulsory education of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools.

2.       It requires all private schools (except the minority institutions) to reserve 25% of seats for the poor and other categories of children (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan).

3.       It also prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice.

4.       It makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission.

5.       The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education i.e. upto class VIII.

6.       There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.

7.       The RTE act requires surveys that will monitor all neighbourhoods, identify children requiring education, and set up facilities for providing it.

8.       A number of other provisions regarding improvement of school infrastructure, teacher-student ratio and faculty are made in the Act.

8.      Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • It seeks to amend the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 by extending the deadline for teachers to acquire the prescribed minimum qualifications for appointment.
  • Under the Act, if a state does not have adequate teacher training institutions or sufficient snumber of qualified teachers, the provision to possess minimum qualifications is relaxed for a period not exceeding five years i.e. till March 31, 2015.
  • The Bill further adds to this provision by stating that those teachers who do not possess the minimum qualifications as on March 31, 2015 will acquire the minimum qualifications within a period of four years i.e. by March 31, 2019.
  • It was passed by the Lok Sabha in July 2017.
  • It will now have to pass muster in the Rajya Sabha – and get presidential assent after that – to become an Act.
  • About 5-6 lakh private schools teachers and 2.5-lakh government school teachers still do not have the requisite degrees.
  • As a last chance, another two years are being given to such teachers through this amendment so that they do not lose their jobs.
  • Swayam portal as part of massive open online courses (MOOC) – and 32 free DTH educational channels, these teachers – who already had experience – could acquire theoretical knowledge and then pass the exam to retain their jobs.
  • Ninety per cent untrained teachers are from eight States.

9.      Swayam portal

  • SWAYAM or Study Webs of Active -Learning for Young Aspiring Minds programme of Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, provides for professors of centrally funded institutions like IITs, IIMs, central universities offering online courses to citizens of India.
  • SWAYAM is an instrument for self-actualisation providing opportunities for a life-long learning.
  • Here learner can choose from hundreds of courses , virtually every course that is taught at the university / college / school level and these shall be offered by best of the teachers in India and elsewhere.
  • If a student is studying in any college, he/she can transfer the credits earned by taking these courses into their academic record.
  • If you are, working or not working, in school or out of school, SWAYAM presents a unique educational opportunity to expand the horizons of knowledge.
  • All courses would be offered free of cost under this programme however fees would be levied in case learner requires certificate.
  • In the first phase, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IIT Kanpur, IIT Guwahati, University of Delhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, IGNOU, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, Banaras Hindu University, alone as well as with the help of faculty from foreign universities will be offering courses in areas of engineering education, social science, energy, management, basic sciences.
  • SWAYAM Prabha is the 32 DTH channels operationalised for telecasting high quality educational content free of charge using the GSAT-15 satellite transponders.

10.  Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

  • It is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web.
  • In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions among students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs).
  • MOOCs are a recent and widely researched development in distance education which were first introduced in 2006 and emerged as a popular mode of learning in 2012.
  • Early MOOCs often emphasized open-access features, such as open licensing of content, structure and learning goals, to promote the reuse and remixing of resources.
  • Some later MOOCs use closed licenses for their course materials while maintaining free access for students

11.  Japanese encephalitis (JE)

  • It is an infection of the brain caused by the mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV).
  • Domestic pigs and wild birds (especially herons) are reservoirs of the virus; transmission to humans may cause severe symptoms.
  • Amongst the most important vectors of this disease are the Culex mosquitoes.
  • This disease is most prevalent in Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia.

12.  Dome of the Rock mosque

  • It is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.
  • It was initially completed in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna, built on the site of the Roman temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which had in turn been built on the site of the Second Jewish Temple, destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
  • The site’s great significance for Muslims derives from traditions connecting it to the creation of the world and to the belief that the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey to heaven started from the rock at the center of the structure.
  • The rock also bears great significance for Jews as the site of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with two nearby Temple Mount structures, the Western Wall, and the “Resurrection Rotunda” in the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

13.  Al-Aqsa mosque

  • Also known as Bayt al-Muqaddas, it is the third holiest site in Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem.
  • Whilst the entire site on which the silver-domed mosque sits, along with the Dome of the Rock, seventeen gates, and four minarets, was itself historically known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, today a narrower definition prevails, and the wider compound is usually referred to as al-Haram ash-Sharif (“the Noble Sanctuary”), or the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
  • Muslims believe that Muhammad was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to al-Aqsa during the Night Journey.
  • Islamic tradition holds that Muhammad led prayers towards this site until the seventeenth month after the emigration, when God directed him to turn towards the Kaaba.
  • The mosque was originally a small prayer house built by Umar the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate, but was rebuilt and expanded by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik and finished by his son al-Walid in 705 CE
  • Today, the Old City is under Israeli control, but the mosque remains under the administration of the Jordanian/Palestinian-led Islamic Waqf.

14.  World Customs Organisation (WCO)

  • It is an intergovernmental organization established in 1952 and headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
  • It has 182 member nations (including India) that manage more than 98% of world trade.
  • The WCO is noted for its work in areas covering the development of international conventions, instruments, and tools on topics such as commodity classification, valuation, rules of origin, collection of customs revenue, supply chain security, international trade facilitation, customs enforcement activities, combating counterfeiting in support of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), drugs enforcement, illegal weapons trading, integrity promotion, and delivering sustainable capacity building to assist with customs reforms and modernization.
  • The WCO maintains the international Harmonized System (HS) goods nomenclature, and administers the technical aspects of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on Customs Valuation and Rules of Origin.
  • It is supporting the uniform implementation of the TFA across the globe.

15.  Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)

  • The WTO’s (World Trade Organisation) Trade Facilitation Agreement aims at easing customs procedures for the cross-border movement of goods.
  • It was outcome of WTO’s 9th Bali (Indonesia) ministerial package of 2013.
  • The implementation of the TFA has the potential to create US 1 trillion dollars’ worth of global economic activity which may add 21 million new jobs and lower the cost of doing international trade by 10 to 15 per cent.
  • The TFA shall enter into force for the notified members upon acceptance by two-third (107 countries) WTO Members.
  • Earlier Indian Government had refused to ratify TFA till its concerns about public stockholding for food security are resolved.
  • But in order to address India’s concerns WTO had agreed to amend the Bali agreement, providing India an indefinite reprieve on food stockholding.
  • India ratified the agreement in April 2016.
  • It came into effect in February 2017.

16.  Bali Package:

  • It is a trade agreement resulting from the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Bali, Indonesia on 3-7 December 2013.
  • It is aimed at lowering global trade barriers and is the first agreement reached through the WTO that is approved by all its members.
  • The package forms part of the Doha Development Round, which started in 2001.
  • It includes provisions for :

1.       Lowering import tariffs and agricultural subsidies: It will make it easier for developing countries to trade with the developed world in global markets.

2.       Abolish hard import quotas: Developed countries would abolish hard import quotas on agricultural products from the developing world and instead would only be allowed to charge tariffs on amount of agricultural imports exceeding specific limits.

3.       Reduction in red tape at international borders: It aims to reduce red-tapism to facilitate trade through (TFA) by reforming customs bureaucracies and formalities. Comment The ratification will supplement India’s ongoing reforms to bring in simplification and enhanced transparency in cross border trade in goods. It will further help India to boost economic growth by reducing trade costs and supporting its integration into the global economy.

17.  National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) of India

  • NTFAP released by the Centre in July 2017 aims to reduce cargo release time for exports and imports as part of measures intended to boost trade.
  • It is to be implemented between 2017 and 2020, is part of India’s efforts to improve its ease of doing business ranking in the World Bank’s annual report.
  • It has been described by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) as a ‘best practice’ that other nations can adopt.
  • As many as 51 of the 76 activities mentioned in the NTFAP “go beyond” the implementation requirements of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
  • Justifying the large number of TFA-plus activities, the NTFAP stated that “Since infrastructure and technology augmentation are prime enablers for trade facilitation, more so for India, the action plan (NTFAP) covers many activities in these areas.”
  • It added, “Since they go beyond the ambit of the TFA per se, they have been defined as TFA Plus category….” The NTFAP further stated that “similarly, enhancement of existing compliance levels to achieve global benchmarks in crucial segments like Time Release Study, Post Clearance Audit and AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) scheme belong to the TFA Plus category as they are dynamic objectives.”
  • Of the 51 “TFA-plus activities”, most (or 34) have a timeline of six to 18 months. These include alignment of India’s foreign trade policy with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime and the WTO’s TFA, as well as gate automation at ports, establishment of labs at sea/air ports, and complete automation of ‘transit movement and transhipment procedures’.
  • While 12 of the “TFA-plus activities” have a deadline of up to six months (including giving information on average clearance time at gate, fixing responsibility for delays in giving clearances), five such activities have a timeline of 18-36 months (including improving infrastructure).
  • Of the 25 activities that are part of the TFA requirements, 17 will be implemented within 6-18 months, while eight have a timeline of up to six months.

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