July 19, 2017 @ 11:00 am


19th JULY  2017

  1. Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016
  • It seeks to end the menace of social boycott practiced by extra-judicial institutions like caste and community panchayats.
  • With this, Maharashtra became first state in the country to adopt a comprehensive law to root out oppression carried out by parallel justice delivery system (kangaroo court) in the name of age old traditions, caste and religion.
  • In recent times, Maharashtra had witnessed an increasing number of incidents of social boycott and violence at the orders of caste panchayats. However, existing laws were found to be inadequate in dealing with such practices. For years, number of activists and academicians in the state were demanding stringent law to root out menace of social boycotts from the state.
  • Key Features of Bill :

1)       It disallows social boycott of any individual or groups by caste panchayats or groups of individuals or gavki or by its members or by social or economically influential persons.

2)     Persons involved in practice of social boycott for reasons like rituals of worship, inter-caste marriage, any connection to lifestyle, dress or vocation will face stringent punishment.

3)       The offence registered under the act will be congnizable and bailable.

4)       The punishment for such an offence is imprisonment maximum upto three years and a fine of 1 lakh rupees or both

5)       The victim of social boycott or any member of the victim’s family can file a complaint either to police or directly to the magistrate.

6)       The bill has indicated speedy trial within six months of filing chargesheet in such cases in order to ensure time-bound results.

7)       Government will recruit social boycott prohibition officers to ensure monitoring and to detect offences and assist the magistrate and police officers in tackling such cases.

  1. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
  • The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the Indian governmental regulatory body for civil aviation.
  • It is an attached office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
  • It is responsible for regulation of air transport services to/from/within India and for enforcement of civil air regulations, air safety and airworthiness standards.
  • It also co-ordinates all regulatory functions with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)
  • It also maintains Regional Airworthiness Offices and Regional Air Safety offices.
  1. International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)
  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
  • It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.
  • Its headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
  • The ICAO Council adopts standards and recommended practices concerning air navigation, its infrastructure, flight inspection, prevention of unlawful interference, and facilitation of border-crossing procedures for international civil aviation.
  • ICAO defines the protocols for air accident investigation followed by transport safety authorities in countries signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).
  • The 2nd edition of bilateral maritime exercise ‘AUSINDEX-17’ was conducted between Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy in Fremantle, Australia in June 2017 to increase inter-operability and cooperation between the two forces.
  • Indian warships INS Shivalik (a muIti-role stealth frigate), INS Kamorta (an anti-submarine warfare corvette) and INS Jyoti (the fleet replenishment tanker) were part of this 5-day venture.
  1. Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
  • Known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union.
  • Under the agreement, Iran agreed to :

1)       eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium

2)       cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%

3)       reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years

4)       only enrich uranium up to 3.67% for the next 15 years

5)       not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the next 15 years.

6)       uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years.

7)       Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks.

8)       To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities.

  • The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.
  1. Panna Mukti and Tapti oil and gas fields
  • The Panna-Mukta oilfield consists of two contiguous offshore oil fields, 95 kilometres northwest of Mumbai, and has an area of 430 square kilometres.
  • The Mukta field is about 100 kilometres northwest of Mumbai, and has an area of 777 square kilometres.
  • The Panna-Mukta oil field and the Tapti gas field to the north were discovered by the Indian state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), who initially operated the fields.
  • Following a privatization policy a Reliance – Enron consortium gained a 25-year lease on the oil field in February 1994. Oil production at that time was 12,000 barrels per day.
  • The lease was awarded under a production sharing arrangement. The Government of India would receive a variable share of profit depending on the investment multiple.
  • In December 1994 a joint venture between ONGC (40%), Enron (30%) and Reliance (30%) took control of the field.
  • In 2002 British Gas (BG) bought Enron’s 30% share of the Panna-Mukta and Tapti fields for $350 million
  • However, there was a dispute between the partners over operation of the field, with BG wanting to control operations and the two Indian firms wanting a more equal sharing of control.
  • It currently produces 19,000 barrels per day of oil and 5-6 mmscmd of gas.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India wrote a report that was highly critical of the contract award process.
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a preliminary inquiry in June 1996.
  • In September 2010 the Comptroller and Auditor General of India found that the consortium running the fields had made excessive payments to service contractors, which could have cut into the profits that the government made from the fields.
  • RIL and BG Group of UK, in December 2010, initiated arbitration over a dispute about recovery of cost of operations.
  • The three-member London-based arbitration panel, to which India had named former Supreme Court judge B Sundershan Reddy as its nominee, ruled in favour of the government in some of the 69 clauses of dispute that were listed by RIL-BG combine. A few of the clauses went in favour of RIL-BG.
  • The big-ticket issue of inclusion of certain items in the cost recovery went in favour of the government with the arbitration panel holding that RIL-BG cannot include such items.
  • The arbitration panel upheld the government view that the profit from the fields should be calculated after deducting the prevailing tax of 33 per cent and not the 50 per cent rate that existed earlier.
  • Also, it had its way on inclusion of marketing margin charged over and above the wellhead price of natural gas for calculation of royalty.
  • The government has sought about USD 3 billion from Reliance Industries, Royal Dutch Shell and ONGC following a “partial” arbitration award in its favour.
  1. Interconnection Usage Charge (IUC)
  • These charges are payable by the operator whose subscriber makes a call to the operator whose subscriber receives the call,and directly impact the tariff.
  • In bill and keep methodoperators bills their own subscribers for outgoing calls and keeps the revenue received. They do not pay any termination charges to each other.
  • Top operators including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone pitched for doubling the interconnection usage charge (IUC), to 30-35 paise from 14 paise currently, while newer rival Reliance Jio has suggested a zero IUC regime at the workshop organised by regulator TRAI on the issue.
  1. Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)
  • It is a regional intergovernmental organisation formed in 1967, comprising ten Southeast Asian states which promotes pan-asianism, intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, military, educational and cultural integration amongst its members and Asian states.
  • Its members are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
  • Its principal aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members, alongside the protection of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully.
  • Its motto is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • The organisation has a global reputation of promoting goodwill and diplomacy among nations, shutting out any biased opinion or decision, and carrying the principle of non-interference.
  • The ‘ASEAN Way’ refers to a methodology or approach to solving issues that respects the cultural norms of Southeast Asia.
  1. Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
  • It is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
  • RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
  • The agreement is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017.
  • RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.
  1. Data localisation
  • In the wake of revelations that the U.S. and UK governments regularly monitor private communications — including Internet usage, GPS data, and cell information — a number of countries are considering a new type of law called “data localization.”
  • In the simplest of terms, data localization laws would require that businesses that operate on the Internet — including Internet service providers, companies with data operations, and cloud services that control and maintain digital data for business and individuals, including redundant backups — store that data within the country where the businesses are located, rather than on servers in other countries.
  • Internet businesses that do not comply could be barred from doing business in that country or fined millions of dollars.
  • However, opponents claim it destroys the flexibility of the Internet, where data can be duplicated around the world for backup and efficient access.
  • Google and many other Internet businesses have expressed concern that data localization may change the Internet as we know it.
  • Clearly, ISPs and cloud providers have a vested interest in a less-restrictive Internet without data localization, so that they might manage expenses — and therefore profits. This interest needs to be balanced with the need for government access of Internet data to protect citizens from terrorists.
  1. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • It extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.
  • In the simplest terms, it creates a secure, encrypted connection, which can be thought of as a tunnel, between your computer and a server operated by the VPN service.
  • Applications running across the VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network.
  • VPNs may allow employees to securely access a corporate intranet while located outside the office.
  • VPN is typically a paid service that keeps your web browsing secure and private over public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  1. World’s northernmost coral reef in Japan
  • Bleaching has damaged the world’s northernmost coral reef in Japan, the latest example of a global phenomenon scientists have attributed to high ocean temperatures.
  • About 30% of the coral reef off the coast of Tsushima island in Japan, which lies in the temperate zone some 1,000 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, suffered bleaching.
  • There was large-scale coral bleaching in Japan’s subtropical Okinawan chain of islands in 2016.
  1. Corals:
  • Corals are marine invertebrates in the class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria.
  • They typically live in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps.
  • The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.
  • Each polyp is a sac-like animal typically only a few millimeters in diameter and a few centimeters in length.
  • A set of tentacles surround a central mouth opening.
  • An exoskeleton is excreted near the base. Over many generations, the colony thus creates a large skeleton that is characteristic of the species.
  • Individual heads grow by asexual reproduction of polyps. Corals also breed sexually by spawning.
  • Although some corals can catch small fish and plankton using stinging cells on their tentacles, most corals obtain the majority of their energy and nutrients from photosynthetic unicellular dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium that live within their tissues. These are commonly known as zooxanthellae and the corals that contain them are zooxanthellate corals.
  • Such corals require sunlight and grow in clear, shallow water, typically at depths shallower than 60 metres (200 ft).
  • Corals are major contributors to the physical structure of the coral reefs that develop in tropical and subtropical waters, such as the enormous Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
  1. Coral Bleaching
  • Coral bleaching occurs when coral polyps expel algae that lives inside their tissues.
  • Normally, coral polyps live in an endosymbiotic relationship with the algae and that relationship is crucial for the coral and hence for the health of the whole reef.
  • Bleached corals continue to live. But as the algae provide the coral with 90% of its energy, after expelling the algae the coral begins to starve.
  • Above-average sea water temperatures caused by global warming have been identified as a leading cause for coral bleaching worldwide.
  • List of triggers:

1)       increased water temperature (most commonly due to global warming), or reduced water temperatures

2)       oxygen starvation caused by an increase in zooplankton levels as a result of overfishing

3)       increased solar irradiance (photosynthetically active radiation and ultraviolet light)

4)       increased sedimentation (due to silt runoff)

5)       bacterial infections

6)       changes in salinity

7)       herbicides

8)       low tide and exposure

9)       cyanide fishing

10)   elevated sea levels due to global warming

11)   mineral dust from African dust storms caused by drought

12)   oxybenzone, butylparaben, octyl methoxycinnamate, or enzacamene: four common sunscreen ingredients that are nonbiodegradable and can wash off of skin

  • Between 2014 and 2016, the longest global bleaching events ever were recorded.
  • Since 2015, all tropical coral reefs have seen above-normal temperatures, and more than 70 percent experienced prolonged high temperatures that can cause bleaching.
  • In 2016, bleaching hit 90 percent of coral on the Great Barrier Reef and killed between 29 and 50 percent of the reef’s coral.
  • In 2017, the bleaching further expanded to areas of the park that were previously spared, such as the central one.
  • Healthy coral reefs protect shores from storms and offer habitats for fish and other marine life, including ecologically and economically important species.
  • After coral dies, reefs quickly degrade and the structures that coral build erode

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