1. POLITY & GOVERNANCE
ARTICLE 131 OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION
o Recently Kerala and Chhattisgarh have filed a suit in the Supreme court challenging the constitutional validity of various central laws such as Citizenship Amendment Act (Kerala) and the National Investigation Agency Act (Chhattisgarh), under Article 131 of the Indian Constitution
About Article 131
- Article 131 of the Constitution talks about the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, where the apex court deals with any dispute between the Centre and a state; the Centre and a state on the one side and another state on the other side; and two or more states.
- This means no other court can entertain such a dispute.
- A dispute to qualify under Article 131 has to necessarily be between states and the Centre and must involve a question of law or fact on which the existence of a legal right of the state or the Centre depends.
- The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court does not extend to:
o A dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement or other similar instrument executed before the commencement of the constitution and continues to be in operation or which provides that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall not extend to such a dispute
o disputes relating to the use, distribution, or control of the water of any inter-state river
o Suits brought by private individuals against the government of India.
OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER AND THE ISSUE OF DEFECTION
o Recently, the Supreme Court asked Parliament to amend the Constitution to strip Legislative Assembly Speakers of their exclusive power to decide on the matter of disqualification under the anti-defection law.
- The court asked Parliament to substitute the speaker of the Lok-Sabha and Legislative Assemblies as arbiter of disputes concerning disqualification under the Tenth Schedule with a permanent tribunal comprising either a retired Supreme Court Judge or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court.
- The court asked the State Assembly Speaker to decide the disqualification petition in four weeks.
About Anti-defection Law
- The anti-defection law sought to prevent political defections which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.
- For this, the Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985, by the 52nd Amendment Act.
- It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
- A legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote. This implies that a legislator defying (abstaining or voting against) the party whip on any issue can lose his membership of the House).
SC’S VERDICTS ON CURBING RESTRICTIONS IN J&K
Supreme Court’s observation On Internet shutdown
- Freedom of speech and expression through the medium of internet is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
- The restrictions on internet have to follow the principles of proportionality under Article 19(2).
o Doctrine of proportionality is a principle that is prominently used as a ground for judicial review in cases of administrative action.
o The doctrine essentially signifies that the punishment should not be disproportionate to the offence committed or 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.
- Freedom of trade and commerce through internet is also a constitutionally protected right under Article 19(1)(g).
- Suspension of internet for indefinite period not permissible. It can only be for a reasonable duration and periodic review should be done. Government should publish all orders of prohibition to enable affected persons to challenge the same.
REGULATING MINORITY EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Recently, the Supreme Court has held that the State can regulate minority institutions in national interest.
- The judgment came while hearing a petition challenging the validity of West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act, 2008 which constituted a commission to appoint teachers in madrasas, recognised as minority institutions.
- While upholding the validity of the Act, SC reiterated that regulation of minority institutions, including in matter of appointment of teachers, is permissible if it is intended to ensure excellence in minority institution, without interfering with its minority status.
Constitutional Provisions regulating Minority Institutions
Article 30 of the Constitution deals with the Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
- Under Article 30 (1), all minorities, whether based on religion or language, have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- Article 30 (2) prohibits the state in discriminating against such institutions in granting aid on the ground that it is under the management of minority.
ALL INDIA JUDICIAL SERVICES
- The idea of creating an All India Judicial Services (AIJS) was first introduced by the 14th Report of the Law Commission in 1958.
- The First National Judicial Pay Commission (Justice Jagannath Shetty Commission) in 1996, also recommended it at the district judge-level.
- After the Swaran Singh Committee’s recommendations in 1976, Article 312 of the Constitution (provides for creation all-India services), was amended by the Constitution 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, to include an all-India judicial service.
- Currently, the appointments of District Judges and Subordinate Judiciary are done by the respective State governments.
FAST TRACK SPECIAL COURTS
Ministry of Law and Justice has recently started a scheme for setting up 1023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) for rape and POSCO act cases, as a part of National Mission for Safety of Women (NMSW).
- There are 389 districts in the country where the number of pending cases under POCSO Act exceeds 100. Under the recent scheme, each of these districts will have one exclusive POCSO court (FTSC) which will be set up for one year.
- Financing of the Scheme will be on the pattern of Centrally Sponsored Schemes: 60% of the share is contributed by Central Government and 40% by State & UT governments.
- To bring out more stringent provisions and expeditious trial and disposal of Rape and POSCO Act cases, India enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.
o Hence, to assist the implementation of the 2018 act, a key intervention is setting up specific courts for time bound disposal of Rape and POCSO Act cases.
- These 1023 FTSCs will dispose off 1,66,882 cases of Rape and POCSO Act, that are pending trial in various courts.
2. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
NEW AND EMERGING STRATEGIC TECHNOLOGIES DIVISION
Recently, Ministry of External Affairs has announced the setting up of a new division on New and Emerging Strategic Technologies (NEST).
- It will act as the nodal division within the ministry for issues pertaining to new and emerging technologies.
Facets of Emerging Technology in Foreign Relations
- Digital diplomacy: It refers to the broader use of technology, particularly the internet and other ICT-based innovations, in the conduct of diplomacy. Digital measures have roles in negotiations, policy processes, and crisis managements that are all attached to diplomatic activities.
o For example, despite experiencing an outbreak of Zika virus in 2015 and 2016, the government of Brazil was able to convince the international society by using social media on their preparedness for the 2016 Olympics and World Cup.
- Technology and the Balance of Power: Emerging technologies primarily shape the balance of power through military and economic means. Technologies can directly influence countries’ abilities to fight and win wars. They can also indirectly affect the balance of power by impacting a country’s economic power.
- Security Threats: Use of emerging technologies by non-state actors like terrorist organizations for recruitment purposes, financial mobilization, illegal surveillance etc is a cause for concern.
- Science diplomacy: Diplomacy for science means making use of diplomacy to gain benefits in science and technology – bilaterally as well as multilaterally and globally.
SOUTH CHINA SEA
China has reportedly deployed an airship near South China Sea (SCS) to monitor and control military activity in the area by other countries, especially the United States.
United Nations Convention For The Law Of The Sea (UNCLOS)
- It is an international treaty which was adopted and signed in 1982.
- It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.
- The Convention has created three new institutions:
o International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
o International Seabed Authority,
o Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
- It has more than 160 member parties, Including China and India.
ROHINGYA ISSUE IN ICJ
Recently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Myanmar must take effective measures to protect its Rohingya Muslims, including protecting evidence relating to allegations of genocide.
About the ruling
- ICJ ruled that it has the right and the preliminary jurisdiction to hear a case seeking emergency measures to prevent Myanmar from committing genocide against its Rohingya minority.
- It ordered Myanmar to take all measures in its power to prevent genocide against the Rohingya.
- It is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
- It settles disputes between states and gives advisory opinions on international legal issues referred to it by the UN.
- The ICJ is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established by the League of Nations in 1920.
- The ICJ comprises a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms.
- The court is seated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.
REPORT OF THE 15TH FINANCE COMMISSION FOR FY 2020-21
Recently, the Fifteenth Finance Commission submitted its report with recommendations for the financial year 2020-21.
- The commission was constituted by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution to make recommendations for a period of five years commencing 1st April 2020.
- The final report of the Commission with recommendations for the 202126 period will be submitted by October 30, 2020.
Key Recommendations of the Report
- An aggregate share of 41 percent of the net proceeds of Union taxes (divisible pool) should be devolved to States in the year 2020-21.
- The 1% decrease is to provide additional resources for the newly formed union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
- In 2020-21, the following grants will be provided to states:
(i) revenue deficit grants,
(ii) grants to local bodies, and
(iii) disaster management grants.
- The Commission has also proposed a framework for sector-specific and performance-based grants. State-specific grants will be provided in the final report.
BODO PEACE ACCORD
The 3rd Bodo Peace Accord as tripartite agreement between the Centre, Assam Government and the banned Assam-based insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was signed on 27th January 2020, for bringing a lasting peace in Bodo-dominated areas in Assam.
Understanding Bodo Dispute
- Bodos are the single largest tribal community in Assam, making up over 5-6% of the state’s population. The Bodos have had a long history of separatist demands, marked by armed struggle.
- The four districts in Assam — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang — that constitute the Bodo Territorial Area District (BTAD), are home to Bodos along with several other ethnic groups.
- Following an agreement in 1993, Bodoland became an autonomous administrative unit under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, administered by the Bodoland Autonomous Council.
- Following a 2nd peace agreement in 2003, the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was formed which has 46members (40 elected and 6 nominated by the governor) and acts as a Legislative Council to look after the development works in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).
- The 3rd Bodo accord (2020) renamed the BTC as the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) with more administrative and fiscal powers.
PACT TO END BRU REFUGEE CRISIS
A four-party agreement among the Centre, Mizoram government, Tripura government, and leaders of Bru community was signed to end the 23-year old Bru-Reang refugee crisis.
- The Bru community, also referred to as Reangs, resides in Mizoram, Tripura, and parts of southern Assam, and is ethnically distinct from the Mizos of Mizoram.
- There are over 40,000 Brus living in four districts of Mizoram. At present, over 30000 Brus are living in the refugee camps in Tripura after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the Mizo tribes in 1997.
- Reangs in Tripura are categorised as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
Key features of present pact
- Around 34,000 Internally Displaced Brus will be settled in Tripura and would be given aid from the Centre to help with their rehabilitation and all-round development, through a package of around Rs 600 crores.
- These people would get all the rights that normal residents of the States get, and they would now be able to enjoy the benefits of social welfare schemes of Centre and State governments.
INDIAN CYBER CRIME COORDINATION CENTRE
Recently, Union Ministry of Home affairs inaugurated Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) and launched National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal.
- The scheme to set up Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) was approved in October 2018 for two years (2018-2020) to deal with all types of cybercrimes in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
- It is in line with the National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 which aims at facilitating the creation of secure computing environment and enabling adequate trust and confidence in electronic transactions and also guiding stakeholders actions for the protection of cyberspace.
- This centre is located in New Delhi.
- National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) is one of the components of the scheme:
- NCRP is a citizen-centric initiative that will enable citizens to report cybercrimes online through the portal with specific focus on crimes against women, children, particularly child pornography, child sex abuse material, online content pertaining to rapes and gang rapes, financial crime etc.
Recently, renowned environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev was awarded the 2020 Tyler Prize for his work in the domain of green economy.
About Green Economy
- As per the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Green Economy is the one that “improves human well-being and builds social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.”
- The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), with help from Gujarat’s forest department, is attempting for the first time a process to restore coral reefs using the bio rock technology.
- A bio rock structure was installed one nautical mile off the Mithapur coast in the Gulf of Kachchh.
- Coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse marine eco-systems on the Earth.
- Ecologically, coral reefs are important because they are the counterpart to the tropical rain forest in terms of species diversity and biological productivity in the Ocean.
- Coral bleaching occurs when coral polyps expel algae that live inside their tissues.
- Coral species live within a relatively narrow temperature margin hence low and high sea temperatures can induce coral bleaching.
- When corals are exposed to high concentrations of chemical contaminants or pathogens, coral bleaching happens.
10 NEW RAMSAR SITES IN INDIA
- The Ramsar Convention has declared 10 more wetlands in India as sites of international importance.
- This brings the total number of Ramsar sites in India to 37 from 27.
- The 10 new ones are
Nandur Madhameshwar, a first for Maharashtra;
Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve and Nangal in Punjab; and
Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and Sarsai Nawar in Uttar Pradesh
Supreme Court allowed the Centre to introduce the African cheetah from Namibia in Africa to a suitable habitat in India.
- SC has set up a three-member committee to ‘guide’ National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Decision for relocation of African cheetah will be taken after a proper survey and the action of introduction of the animal will be left to the NTCA’s discretion.
HYDROCHLOROFLUOROCARBON (HCFC)-141 B
India achieved complete phase out of HCFC-141 b, one of the most potent ozone depleting chemical after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). More about news
- Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) brought out a notification through which the issuance of import license for HCFC-141b has been prohibited from January 1 this year.
o It was issued under Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2019 issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- The complete phase out of HCFC-141 b is among the first at this scale in Article 5 parties (developing countries) under the Montreal Protocol.
o Montreal Protocol, finalized in 1987, is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
AUSTRALIAN BUSH FIRE
Recently, Australia is facing worst wildfires seen in decades that led to a huge humanitarian and environmental crisis.
- In total, more than 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) have been burned across Australia.
- Total area under fire is almost 7 times greater than the 2019 Amazon fires and three times than California fires.
Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)
- The IOD refers to the difference in sea-surface temperatures in the eastern and western Indian Ocean. This either aids or cuts off moisture supply to Australia, depending on whether the western Indian Ocean is cooler or the eastern.
- This year, the eastern Indian Ocean has been unusually cold (i.e. positive IOD), and that contributed to the rainfall deficiency over Australia.
6. SOCIAL ISSUES
MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2020
Salient features of proposed amendments
- It proposes requirement for opinion of one registered medical practitioner (RMP) for termination of pregnancy, up to 20 weeks of gestation and introducing the requirement of opinion of two medical practitioner for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
- Enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women including survivors of rape, victims of incest (Sexual relations between close relative) and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, Minors) etc.
- Limit of 24 weeks for termination of pregnancy will not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by the Medical Board. The composition, functions and other details of the Medical Board will be prescribed.
- Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorized in any law for the time being in force.
- Relaxing the contraceptive-failure condition for “any woman or her partner” from the present provision for “only married woman or her husband”, allowing them to medically terminate the pregnancy.
ANNUAL STATUS OF EDUCATION REPORT (ASER) 2019
Recently NGO Pratham published ASER Report 2019 ‘Early Years’.
About ASER 2019 Survey
- Focusing on Early years: The early years, is known to be the most important stage of cognitive, motor, social and emotional development in the human life cycle.
o The ‘Early Years’ ASER collects data on the schooling or pre schooling status of children in the age group 4-8.
- It explores selected competencies categorized in four domains:
o Early language acquisition,
o Early numeracy skills,
o Cognitive abilities and o Social and emotional learning
VII. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
National Informatics Centre (NIC) has set up the Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Blockchain Technology in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
- It aims to provide Blockchain as a service and allowing all stakeholders to benefit from shared learning, experiences and resources.
- It will facilitate the Government Departments in building proof of concepts for use of Blockchain technology in different dimensions of governance leading to large scale deployment of some such applications.
- New and previously unforeseen applications of Blockchain in the Government are expected to enhance transparency, traceability and trust in e-governance systems.
About Blockchain technology
- A blockchain is a specific type of data structure which can be used to transact across nodes or participants. The ownership rights are recorded in cryptographically stored and linked blocks which contain records of ownership of assets among the participants that can remain anonymous.
- Blockchains are open, distributed ledger that can chronologically record transactions between two parties efficiently in near real time.
- The prerequisite for each subsequent transaction to be added to the ledger is the respective consensus of the network participants (called nodes), thereby creating a continuous mechanism of control regarding manipulation, errors, and data quality.
Applications of Blockchain
- Banking- For efficient banking operations and efficiently using the KYC procedures offered by this technology. For instance-
o SBI leads as the first bank to use KYC and facilitate remittances based on blockchain.
o Yes Bank adopted this technology to fully digitise vendor financing for one of its clients which enables timely processing of vendor payments without physical documents and manual intervention while tracking the status of transactions in real time.
o Cross border remittances can be made faster and less costly.
- Capital Markets- in the areas of-
o Trade Settlement- Faster transfer of securities and payments and reduced trading cost by removing intermediaries
o Commercial Papers Issuance and Trading- Smart contract based issuance and allocation of Commercial paper to investors, settlement of delivery and payments
- Cybersecurity- Sensitive data moved to the blockchain can effectively manage access by minimizing the risk of leaks to hackers. For instance-
o The Block Armour solution is the company which ring-fences an organization’s critical resources, securely providing access to authorized users and devices.
2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (2019-NCOV)
Recently, Coronavirus was declared global health emergency by WHO. World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 an official name for coronavirus disease.
- According to WHO the current outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019.
- On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)”.
- This is the sixth declared global health emergency in the past decade. Other five are H1 virus that caused an influenza pandemic (2009), West Africa’s Ebola outbreak (2013-2016), polio (2014), Zika virus (2016), and the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2019).
About Novel Coronavirus
- Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Ministry of Civil Aviation announced a scheme providing a window up to January 31, 2020 for voluntary registration of all drones and their operators.
- On successful submission of voluntary disclosure of possessing drone, a Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) and an Ownership Acknowledgement Number (OAN) will be issued online which will help in validation of operation of drones in India.
- However, the DAN and the OAN do not confer any right to operate drones in India if it does not fulfil the DGCA’s drone regulations.
- Further, ownership of drones in India without a valid DAN or OAN shall invite penal action as per applicable laws.
Drones in India
- As per Ministry of Civil Aviation, drones are defined as a technology platform that has wide-ranging application from photography to agriculture, from infrastructure asset management to insurance.
- Drones range in size from very small and those that can carry multiple-kilograms of payload. The DGCA has defined five different categories of drones: o Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams
o Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg
o Small: From 2kg to 25kg
o Medium: From 25kg to 150kg
o Large: Greater than 150kg
Drone Regulation in India
- In August 2018, the Centre came up with the first set of norms Drone Regulations 1.0 which are intended to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 ft altitude operations of Drones.
- Under these guidelines, air space has been partitioned into:
o Red zone denotes “no fly zone” (include airspace around airports; near international border, Vijay Chowk in Delhi; State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations/vital and military installations; etc.)
o Yellow zone is controlled airspace which signifies airspace requiring Air Defence Clearance or Air Traffic Control clearance.
o Green zone signifies unrestricted airspace zones. However, even for the Green zone, there is a need to get clearance from the Digital Sky Platform.
REPUBLIC DAY PARADE 2020
India celebrated its 71st Republic Day on 26th January, 2020.
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was the chief guest for this year’s ceremony.
- 22 tableaux comprising of 16 States/UTs and 6 Ministries/Departments were presented at the parade.
- Prime minister paid homage at the National War Memorial and the first tri-service formation took part in the celebrations this year.
CULTURAL FESTIVALS IN NEWS
- Recently, the Lai Haraoba, a five-day long ritualistic festival observed by Manipuri Meitei communities, was celebrated.
- Mizoram government will be organising Zo Kutpui (festival) in at least 10 states across India and countries such as US, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
About Lai Haraoba
- Lai Haraoba means ‘Festivity of the Gods’ or merry making of Gods.
- This festival is marked to celebrate the creation of the universe and the recollection of the evolution of plants, animals and human beings
- The festival is observed to honour Umang Lai deity of the state.
About Zo Kutpui
- The event will witness various cultural programmes by different Mizo tribes.
- The exercise is an attempt to unify and strengthen the brotherhood among various Mizo tribes living in different parts of the world.
- Other important festivals of Mizoram: Mim Kut (celebrated in the months of August and September, when the maize crop is ready for harvesting), Chapchar Kut (celebrated in the month of March), Thalfavang Kut etc.
- Padma awards were announced recently on the occasion of Republic day.
- Padma Awards is one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely,
o ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service;
o ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and
o ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field.
- The awards were instituted in 1954 to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.
- Person with disabilities (PwDs) and people over 80 years of age were allowed to cast their vote in Delhi Assembly Election through postal ballot.
- Postal voting is a type of voting in elections whereby Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot Papers (ETPB) are distributed to electors and returned by post.
- Service voters, have the option of either voting through postal ballot or through a proxy voter. It includes
o members of Armed Forces of the Union
o members of forces to which provisions of Army Act, 1950 applies.
o members of armed police force of a State and serving outside that state
o persons who are employed by GoI in a post outside India.
CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX 2019
- The latest edition of Corruption perception Index (CPI) 2019 was released.
About the index
- It is released by Transparency International annually since 1995. • It ranks 180 countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. • It uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
- Denmark and New Zealand are at the top spot, followed by Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland in the top ten. Somalia is ranked last, preceded by South Sudan and Syria.
- India slipped to the 80th rank, while its score remained steady at 41. Pakistan is ranked at the 120th place.
RAISINA DIALOGUE 2020
- The fifth edition of the Raisina dialogue 2020 was held recently in New Delhi.
- It is a multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community, held annually in New Delhi since 2016. It is designed on the lines of Singapore’s Shangri-La Dialogue.
BLUE CORNER NOTICE
- Recently, the Interpol issued a Blue Corner notice to help locate fugitive self-styled godman Nithyananda, who fled India last year amid allegations of rape and sexual abuse.
About ‘Blue Corner’ notice:
o According to the Interpol- Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.
o The Blue Notice is issued to “collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.”
- Ministry of Steel in partnership with CII and Joint Plant Committee recently launched PURVODAYA: Accelerated development of eastern India through integrated steel hub in Kolkata, West Bengal.
- It aims to enable swift capacity addition and improve overall competitiveness of steel producers both in terms of cost and quality.
- Through this programme, the government aims to transform logistics and utilities infrastructure which would change the socio-economic landscape in the eastern India.
- Recently, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau along with West Bengal forest department personnel, seized 983 Indian flapshell turtles and two Indian peacock softshell turtles from a West Bengal’s market.
o Operation Turtshield is a new Central programme to protect endangered turtles.
- The flapshell turtle, which is smaller in size, is killed for its meat which is considered a delicacy in both Bengal and Bangladesh. It is listed as Least Concerned under IUCN Red list.
- Indian peacock softshell turtles are categorised as Vulnerable in IUCN Red list. It is also listed in schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act and Schedule – I of CITES.
ONE TRILLION TREES INITIATIVE
- The World Economic Forum (WEF) at its Davos meeting has launched a global initiative to grow, restore and conserve 1 trillion trees around the world – in a bid to restore biodiversity and help fight climate change.
- 1t.org offers a platform for leading governments, businesses, civil society and ecopreneurs committed to serving the global trillion trees community.
PALAU IS FIRST COUNTRY TO BAN ‘REEF TOXIC’ SUN CREAM
- Palau (located in the western Pacific Ocean) has become first country to ban sun cream that is harmful to corals and sea life.
- The ban came into effect on January 1, 2020.
- An ingredient in sunscreen products – oxybenzone – is considered to be particularity harmful.
- According to International Coral Reef Foundation, the banned chemicals can cause:
o corals to become more susceptible to coral bleaching,
o damage the DNA of coral, and
o deform and kill juvenile corals.
BHUVAN PANCHAYAT V 3.0
- It has been developed by National Remote Sensing Centre of ISRO.
- It is a user-friendly web Geo portal under ISRO’s SISDP project (Space Based Information Support for Decentralised Planning) for better planning and monitoring of government projects.
o SISDP project aims to assist Gram Panchayats at grassroot level with basic planning inputs derived from satellite data for preparing developmental plans, its implementation and monitoring the activities.
INDIAN DATA RELAY SATELLITE SYSTEM (IDRSS)
- India plans for its own space-to-space tracking and communication of its space assets this year by putting up a new satellite series called Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS).
o A set of 2 IDRSS satellites will be placed in geostationary orbit, enabling satellite to satellite communication and transfer of data.
o It will track, send and receive real-time information from other Indian satellites, in particular those in low-earth orbits (LEO) which have limited coverage of earth.
o It will also be useful in monitoring launches and benefitting crew members of the Gaganyaan mission ensuring mission control throughout their travel.
- Recently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted the first batch of six of 18 Russian Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets at Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur Air Force Station.
- It will bolster India’s offensive capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region against China as they can fly 1,500km without having to refuel mid-air, thus help providing security cover to island territories and sea lines of communication.
- Recently, month long fuel conservation campaign of Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) was launched as SAKSHAM 2020 (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav).
- All segments viz. School Children, Youth, Housewives, Drivers, Mechanics, Fleet Operators, Industries, Farmers etc. shall be involved in various fuel conservation activities, like:
o Training program for riders of cars, bus and truck at Retail outlets to educate them about the conservation tips in the usage of Petrol & Diesel, including vehicle safety.
o Mass awareness through Kisan Call Centre in the form of Tips/Jingles on Petroleum Conservation.
o LPG Panchayat to educate villagers about the usage of LPG, its safety and conservation tips.
o Fuel efficient driving Contest for car owners to promote fuel efficient driving.