National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 10th April 2019

Arunachal Pradesh service voters cast first vote of 2019 General Elections

Topic: Governance

In News: Soldiers of Indo-Tibetan-Border-Police [ITBP] cast their first votes of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

More on the Topic:

  • Service voters cast their votes five days prior to the first phase of polling. Ballot papers were thereafter dispatched to other places as well.
  • In order to include more and more service voters to the list the campaigns have been made through different mediums. Print, electronic, mediums were given due importance.
  • Approximately 30 lakh service voters will be there and a large number of them are expected to vote.
  • Service voter belonging to defence and paramilitary forces have the option of either voting through postal ballot or through a proxy voter duly appointed by him/her.
  • While an ordinary elector is registered in the electoral roll of the constituency in which his place of ordinary residence is located, person having service qualification can get enrolled as ‘service voter’ at his native place even though he actually may be residing at a different place (of posting).
  • He has, however, an option to get himself enrolled as general elector at the place of his posting where he factually, at the point of time, is residing ordinarily with his family for a sufficient span of time.

Source:Hindu

Kerala flood Amicus curiae Report

Topic: Disaster Management

In News:  The amicus curiae appointed by the High Court of Kerala to assist it in a slew of flood related cases, has recommended appointment of an independent expert committee headed by a superior court judge to ascertain what caused the floods of August 2018 and to come up with recommendations for strengthening dam management.

More on the Topic:

  • The report raised a serious concern that none of the 79 dams in Kerala were used or operated for the purpose of flood control or moderation despite the obligation to do so as per the National Water Policy, National Disaster Management Authority guidelines related to floods.
  • It may be noted that the state has 79 dams and reservoirs that come under the control of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Irrigation Department of the state.
  • Also, the amicus curiae report indicates that the dams did not have any Emergency Action Plans as required.
  • The amicus curiae report states the details given in the counter affidavits indicate clearly that dams in Kerala had not maintained Effective Flood Control zone and the flood cushion as maintained is not as per the norms that are meant to be followed.
  • The state government’s counter affidavit stated that such ‘extremely heavy rain’ had not been predicted by IMD for the months June, July and August.
  • The counter affidavit further states that though the dams in the state are not flood control dams, flood cushions are provided to regulate the flood water in the reservoir. This term ‘flood cushion’ refers to the difference between the FRL and final warning level.

Suggetions by the Amicus curie:

  • Kerala needs to update or formulate Rule curves for all dams.
  • Essential to undertake a study of downstream channel carrying capacity and the removal of encroachments that are illegal.
  • Mapping of inundation areas and the formulation of standard operating procedures for diverse scenarios.
  • Flood forecasting should take into account downstream as well as upstream areas.
  • Information regarding each dam must be made available in public domain.
  • Each dam should have a Dam Management Committee.

Amicus curiae:

  • An amicus curiae (literally, “friend of the court”; plural, amici curiae) is someone who is not a party to a case and may or may not have been solicited by a party and who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case; and is typically presented in the form of a brief.
  • The decision on whether to consider an amicus brief lies within the discretion of the court. The phrase amicus curiae is legal in Latin.

Source: The Hindu

World Bank

Topic: International Organisations

In News: David Malpass took office as the president of the World Bank Group. Malpass made his debut as the 13th president of the World Bank at its headquarters in Washington

More on the topic:

  • Executive directors of the World Bank can nominate candidates for the post and the candidate must be citizens of one of the bank’s member countries and cannot be a bank governor, executive director or alternate.
  • If there are more than three candidates, there would be a shortlisting process to narrow the field through an informal straw poll. Then the shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the board. The board will then make a final selection through a majority vote.

About World Bank:

  • The World Ban is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group.
  • The World Bank’s most recent stated goal is the reduction of poverty. As of November 2018, the largest recipients of world bank loans were India ($859 million in 2018) and China ($370 million in 2018), through loans from IBRD.

The World Bank is different from the World Bank Group, an extended family of five international organizations:

  • International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
  • International Development Association (IDA)
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
  • International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)

Source: The Hindu

India evacuates peacekeeping CRPF contingent from Libya

Topic: International Affairs

In News: L External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that India has evacuated its entire contingent of 15 CRPF personnel from Tripoli after the situation suddenly worsened in Libya.

More on the Topic:

  • The CRPF contingent was deployed as a peacekeeping force in Tripoli.
  • The military conflict in Libya escalated after forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched an air strike recently in an area in Tripoli and the government vowed a major counteroffensive.
  • The United Nations has called for an two-hour truce to allow evacuations of civilians and the wounded. Rivalries between Haftar and the government threaten to plunge the country into a civil war.

Source:The Hindu

‘Online Harms White Paper’ to regulate online content

Topic: Internal Security

In News: UK government has released a white paper on ‘online harms’. These new rules are aimed at limiting harmful online content.

More on the Topic:

  • In this white paper, the UK government called for an internet regulator with the power to issue fine, to block access to websites if necessary, and to make individual executives legally liable for harmful content spread on their platforms.
  • The government will establish a new statutory duty of care to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services. Compliance with this duty of care will be overseen and enforced by an independent regulator.
  • Companies must fulfil their new legal duties. The regulator will set out how to do this in codes of practice. If companies want to fulfil these duties in a manner not set out in the codes, they will have to explain and justify to the regulator how their alternative approach will effectively deliver the same or greater level of impact.
  • The regulator will have the power to require annual transparency reports from companies in scope, outlining the prevalence of harmful content on their platforms and what measures they are taking to address this. These reports will be published online by the regulator, so that users and parents can make informed decisions about online use.

Model Mains Question: Discuss fake news problem in India and suggest measures to mitigate the same.

Source: PIB

Pseudomonas putida CSV86

Topic: Science and Technology

In News: A unique strain of bacterium which can selectively remove the environment toxic, aromatic pollutants such as benzoate (sodium benzoate is used as a food preservative), benzyl alcohol and naphthalene, from soil has been discovered.

More on the Topic:

  • The bacterial strain has preference for aromatic compounds and organic acid as a food source even when glucose is available.
  • The strain can degrade aromatics and organic acids simultaneously.
  • The bacterial strain is a very good candidate for bioremediation or waste-water treatment.

Bioremediation:

  • Bioremediation is a process used to treat contaminated substance including water, soil and subsurface material, by altering environmental conditions to stimulate growth of microorganisms and degrade the target pollutants.
  • Bioremediation is less expensive and more sustainable than other remediation alternatives.

Bio-augmentation:

  • Biological augmentation is the addition of bacterial cultures required to speed up the rate of degradation of a contaminant.
  • If the indigenous variety do not have the metabolic capability to perform the remediation process, exogenous varieties with such sophisticated pathways are introduced.
  • Bio augmentation is commonly used in municipal wastewater treatment to restart activated sludge bioreactors.

Source: The Hindu

Even Horizon Telescope

Topic: Science and Technology

In News:The Event Horizon Telescope aims to capture the first image of a black hole by creating a virtual Earth-sized telescope.

More on the Topic:

  • It is an international collaboration.
  • Instead of constructing a giant telescope EHT links radio dishes across the globe to create an Earth-sized interferometer to measure the size of black holes.
  • The EHT project includes theoretical and simulation studies that are framing questions rooted at the black hole boundary.
  • The following are two massive backhoes photographed by EHT
  • Sagittarius A* :It is at the center of Milky Way galaxy which has four million times the mass of sun.
  • Monster black hole: It is in an elliptical galaxy known as M87, and it is 1500 times more massive than Sag A*.

Source: Livemint

 

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