National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 15th March 2019

EC introduces mobile app for observers

1

Topic: e-Governance

In News: The Election Commission has for the first time started using a mobile application that will help poll observers to submit reports.

More on the Topic:

  • Over 1,800 IAS, IPS and IRS officials, besides some others from the Central services, will be deployed as observers in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
  • They will get all the important notifications and alerts through the ‘Observer App’. It will also help them get their deployment status and download the ID card.
  • As the observers will be involved in real-time disposal of cases of violation of the Model Code of Conduct and expenditure received through another mobile application ‘cVIGIL’, those details will also be available on the ‘Observer App’.

About cVIGIL App:

  • cVIGIL is a innovative mobile application for citizens to report Model Code of Conduct and Expenditure violations during the elections. ‘cVIGIL’ stands for Vigilant Citizen and emphasizes the proactive and responsible role citizens can play in conduct of free and fair elections.
  • cVIGIL, a user-friendly and easy to operate the android application, which can be used for reporting violations from the date of notifications for bye-election/ assembly/ parliamentary elections.
  • The uniqueness of the app is that it only allows Live Photo/ video with auto location capture from within the app to ensure digital evidence for flying squads to act upon in a time bound manner.
  • The app could be installed and used on any android (Jellybean and above) smartphone equipped with a camera, good internet connection and GPS access.
  • By using this app, citizens can immediately report on incidents of political misconduct within minutes of having witnessed them and without having to rush to the office of the returning officer.
  • cVIGIL connects vigilant citizens with District Control Room, Returning Officer and Field Unit (Flying Squads) / Static Surveillance Teams, thereby, creating a rapid and accurate reporting, action and monitoring system.

Source: The Hindu

Climate vulnerability index for India

2

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will be commissioning a study to assess the climate risks faced by States in India.

More on the Topic:

  • This follows an assessment of the global warming risks faced by 12 Himalayan States — and discussed at last year’s U.N. climate change conference in Poland — that found States such as Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand vulnerable to climate change.
  • Last year the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) at Mandi and Guwahati, and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, coordinated with State authorities in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, the hill districts of West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir, to evolve a common methodology, and determine how districts there are equipped to deal with the vagaries of climate change.
  • The researchers prepared a ‘vulnerability index’ of each of these States based on district-level data. Vulnerability would be a measure of the inherent risks a district faces, primarily by virtue of its geography and socio-economic situation.
  • The scientists conducted workshops with the States and culled eight key parameters on the basis of which a vulnerability score could be generated. They included: percentage of area in districts under forests, yield variability of food grain, population density, female literacy rate, infant mortality rate, percentage of population below poverty line (BPL), average man-days under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), and the area under slope > 30%.
  • On a scale ranging 0-1, 1 indicating the highest possible level of vulnerability, at the top of the scale were Assam with a score of 0.72 and Mizoram at 0.71, whereas Sikkim, with an index score of 0.42 was relatively less vulnerable. “This doesn’t mean that States with a lower score are safe in an absolute sense. In fact, some districts in Uttarakhand [at 0.45 and at the lower end of the scale] are more vulnerable than those in Assam.

Factors contributing to the State’s climate vulnerability:

  • Different factors contributed to a State’s vulnerability. In Arunachal Pradesh, the key factors are low female literacy and high percentage of population above BPL whereas in Nagaland the key issues are loss of forest cover, steep slope and high yield variability.

Source: The Hindu

Electoral bonds scheme

3

Topic: Polity and Governance

In News: Government told supreme court that Electoral bonds have been introduced to promote transparency in funding and donation received by political parties.

More on the topic:

  • The electoral bonds scheme was announced in Union Budget 2017 with an aim for increasing transparency in political funding.
  • It makes India first country in the world to have such unique bonds for electoral funding.These bonds are bearer instrument in nature of promissory note and interest-free banking instrument.
  • It aims at rooting out current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to generation of black money in the economy.
  • These electoral bonds can be bought for any value in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore after fulfilling all existing Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and making payments from bank account.
  • It will not carry name of payee.
  • The bond deposited by any eligible political party to its account shall be credited on the same day.
  • No payment shall be made to any payee political party if bond is deposited after expiry of validity period.
  • Eligible political parties can encash electoral bonds only through their bank accounts.Electoral Bonds may be purchased by only citizen of India.
  • An individual can buy Electoral Bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. Electoral Bonds are valid for fifteen calendar days from the date of issue.
  • Only registered political parties, that have secured not less than 1% of votes polled in last election of Lok Sabha or legislative assembly of state, will be eligible to receive electoral bonds.
  • The cash donation has been capped at Rs. 2000 and beyond that donations are via electoral bonds.

Source: The Hindu

Kartarpur corridor

4

Topic: Culture

In News:  India has urged Pakistan to grant visa-free travel rights to Indian pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur shrine.

More On the Topic

  • Kartarpur gurudwara is the revered shrine across the border where Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism spent the last 18 years of his life.
  • The corridor will connect the holy shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in Gurdaspur district of Punjab in India with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan.
  • The length of the corridor is about 4 km (2 km on either side of the international border).The Pakistan government has also decided to open the corridor.
  • The corridor will commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
  • Pilgrimages between India and Pakistan are governed by the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, which includes a list of shrines in Pakistan and India open for visitors from the other country, and for which visas are required.
  • The Kartarpur Corridor, which will provide visa-free access to the shrine when it becomes ready on both sides, may need a separate treaty.

Significance

  • The Kartarpur Sahib corridor was first proposed in 1999 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus ride to Lahore.
  • The Kartarpur corridor will be implemented as an integrated development project with Government of India funding. The development comes ahead of the 550th Prakash Purab or 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in 2019.
  • It will allow Indian devotees to visit Kartarpur shrine located 2 km inside Pakistan in Narowal district.
  • Until now, most Indian devotees have had to contend with a darshan using binoculars installed at Dera Baba Nanak Sahib.
  • India has also asked Pakistan to develop the corridor with suitable facilities in its territory from the International Border to facilitate easier access of Indian pilgrims.

Source:The Hindu

West Nile Virus

5

Topic: Health

In News: A section of the media has reported that a seven year old boy from Malappuram District of Kerala is suffering from a West Nile Virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne disease, mostly reported in the continental United States.

More on the Topic:

  • West Nile virus (WNV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes West Nile fever. It is a member of the family Flaviviridae, specifically from the genus Flavivirus, which also contains the Zika virus, dengue virus, and yellow fever virus.
  • West Nile virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, mostly species of the genus Culex, but ticks have also been found to carry the virus, although it is exceptional and they are not likely to play a major role in the transmission of WNV.
  • The primary hosts of WNV are birds, so that the virus remains within a “bird-mosquito-bird” transmission cycle.

Source: The Hindu

Italy in Belt and Road Initiative

6

Topic: International Relations

In News: Italy is negotiating a preliminary deal to become a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

More on the Topic

  • Italy is facing difficulties in balancing its growth targets with the EU’s stringent fiscal norms.
  • These tensions surfaced in recent negotiations with Brussels that led to a revised Italian budget.
  • So Italy is counting on its BRI endorsement to boost investments, given recent reductions in Chinese outflows into the EU.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese foreign policy initiative promoted by president Xi Jinping in 2013

China Belt and Road Initiative

  • Initially the idea of Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and Maritime Silk Road (MSR) was put forward
  • Subsequently, the two projects together came to be known as ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) Initiative. Later, it came to be known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Aim of BRI: Build a trade, investment, and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes
  • The Communist Party of China (CPC) has incorporated Belt and Road Initiative into the Chinese Constitution

Source: The Hindu

  

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