National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 3rd January 2019

Govt introduces Aadhaar amendment Bill in Lok Sabha

1

Topic: Polity and Governance

IN NEWS: The government has introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to amend certain existing laws to provide legal backing for voluntary seeding of biometric Aadhaar ID for mobile SIM card and bank account authentication purposes.

More on the Topic:

  • The new Bill, Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018, would amend the Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to provide for voluntary sharing of the 12-digit identification number for obtaining new mobile phone connections and opening bank accounts.
  • This government move comes on the heels of Supreme Court’s judgment in September 2018 striking down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act that made seeding of the biometric ID with SIMs and bank accounts mandatory, stating that it had no legal backing.
  • The amendments moved would also permit children, who would turn 18 years old, to opt out of the system.
  • The amendments will make sharing of Aadhaar details voluntary for opening bank accounts, school admissions and procuring mobile SIM cards.
  • Parallel authentication is being introduced to safeguard the privacy of individuals. In the alternative method, an individual need not disclose his Aadhaar number.
  • Under the amendments, an Aadhaar holder can opt for offline verification through a QR code and will not be required to share his or her actual Aadhaar number.
  • Aadhaar has led to savings of ₹90,000 crore in Direct Benefit Transfer.

Source:The Hindu

Exotic trees eating up Western Ghat’s grasslands

2

Topic: Environment and Ecology

IN NEWS: According to a study published on January 2 in the international journal Biological Conservation, Over four decades the country lost almost one-fourth of these grasslands and exotic invasive trees are primarily reason.

More on the Topic:

  • Though grassland afforestation using pine, acacia and eucalyptus ceased in 1996, the exotics still invade these ecosystems.
  • Most of this loss occurred on the mountain tops of the Nilgiri, Palani and Anamalai hill ranges, which comprise more than half of the Ghat’s shola-grassland ecosystems, primarily due to the expansion of exotic trees (pine, acacia and eucalyptus).
  • Even though no plantations were established between 2003 and 2017, invasion by existing trees increased areas under exotic plantations by 27% in the Palanis and 17% in the Nilgiris.
  • Broadly, shola-grassland ecosystems in Tamil Nadu showed the highest rates of invasion.
  • The researchers also visited 840 locations across the Ghats to confirm these changes. Despite this, there’s some good news: shola forests have remained “relatively unchanged” over these years. The Anamalai-Munnar areas have also remained stable during this time.

How to save the grass land:

  • The immediate reaction would be to remove all exotics including mature plantations from grasslands.
  • There is little research conducted on this field. There is a need for more research to understand more about the grass land eco system and conserve them.

Source:The Hindu

Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI)

3

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news: Morocco has been named the second best performing country after Sweden in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI).

 More on the Topic:

  • The North African country significantly increased the share of renewables over the past five years and increased new renewable energy capacity.
  • Sweden is in top position, followed by Morocco and Lithuania in the CCPI 2019. The bottom five in the list are Saudi Arabia, U.S., Iran, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • With the connection of the world’s largest solar plant to the grid, Morocco is on track for achieving its target of 42% installed renewable energy capacities by 2020.
  • India ranks 11th in this year’s CCPI, improving its standing by three places compared to the previous edition. Most notably India improved its performance in the renewable energy category, joining the group of medium performers.
  • Comparatively low levels of per capita GHG emissions and a relatively ambitious mitigation target for 2030 give India an overall high rating in the emissions category.
  • Global carbon dioxide emissions are rising again but India’s ranking has improved by three points.

About Climate Change Performance Index:

  • The CCPI is annually published by Germanwatch, the NewClimate Institute and the Climate Action Network.
  • The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) is an instrument designed to enhance transparency in international climate politics.
  • Its aim is to put political and social pressure on those countries that have, until now, failed to take ambitious action on climate protection, and to highlight those countries with best practice climate policies.
  • These are the overall results of the Climate Change Performance Index 2019. The ranking results are defined by a country’s aggregated performance regarding 14 indicators within the four categories “GHG Emissions”, “Renewable Energy” and “Energy Use”, as well as on “Climate Policy”, in a globally unique policy section of the index.
  • The CCPI 2019 results illustrate the main regional differences in climate protection and performance within the 56 evaluated countries and the EU.
  • No country performed well enough to reach the ranking very good in this year’s index, meaning that no country has yet made it to one of the top three places in the rankings.

Source: The Hindu

Juno probe

4

Topic: Science and Technology

In news: NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft has beamed back new images of volcanic plume on Jupiter’s moon Io, captured during the mission’s 17th flyby of the gas giant.

More on the Topic:

  • On December 21, during winter solstice, four of Juno’s cameras captured images of the Jovian moon Io, the most volcanic body in our solar system.
  • JunoCam, the Stellar Reference Unit (SRU), the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVS) observed Io for over an hour, providing a glimpse of the moon’s polar regions as well as evidence of an active eruption.
  • The images can lead to new insights into the gas giant’s interactions with its five moons, causing phenomena such as Io’s volcanic activity or freezing of the moon’s atmosphere during eclipse.
  • Io’s volcanoes were discovered by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in 1979. Io’s gravitational interaction with Jupiter drives the moon’s volcanoes, which emit umbrella-like plumes of SO2 gas and produce extensive basaltic lava fields.

NASA’s Juno Mission:

  • Juno is a NASA space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter.
  • Juno’s mission is to measure Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere.
  • It will also search for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, mass distribution, and its deep winds, which can reach speeds up to 618 kilometers per hour (384 mph).
  • Juno is the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after the nuclear powered Galileo orbiter, which orbited from 1995 to 2003.Unlike all earlier spacecraft sent to the outer planets,Juno is powered by solar arrays.

Source: The Hindu

Trump Signs Asia Reassurance Initiative Act Into Law

Topic: International Relations

In News: On the final day of 2018, U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA).

More on the Topic:

  • The act “establishes a multifaceted U.S. strategy to increase U.S. security, economic interests, and values in the Indo-Pacific region.”
  • Specifically, the ARIA will authorize $1.5 billion in spending for a range of U.S. programs in East and Southeast Asia and “develop a long-term strategic vision and a comprehensive, multifaceted, and principled United States policy for the Indo-Pacific region, and for other purposes.”
  • ARIA draws attention to U.S. relations with China, India, the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Northeast Asian allies Japan and South Korea.
  • ARIA devotes attention to the maritime commons in the Asia and the South China Sea, where it calls on the United States to support the ASEAN nations as they adopt a code of conduct in the South China Sea with China.
  • The law calls for the president to “develop a diplomatic strategy that includes working with United States allies and partners to conduct joint maritime training and freedom of navigation operations in the Indo-Pacific region, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea, in support of a rules-based international system benefiting all countries.”

Source: Diplomat                                              

Crop Diversification Programme (CDP) Tobacco Farming

Topic: Agriculture

In news: The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) had made budgetary allocations from  2015-16 onwards as Central share under Crop Diversification Programme (CDP), an ongoing sub-scheme of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) to encourage tobacco growing farmers to shift to alternative crops/cropping system in tobacco growing states.

More on the Topic:

  • Under CDP, tobacco growing States have given flexibility to take suitable activities/interventions for replacing the tobacco to alternative crops/cropping system as per the cost norms approved under any Centrally Sponsored Scheme/State Scheme.
  • The States may also organize study tours/ exposure visits and campaigns etc. for highlighting harmful effects of tobacco and long term benefits of alternative crops under CDP.
  • In order to encourage tobacco growing farmers to shift to other crops, a National Seminar on Crop Diversification sponsored by DAC&FW was organized by the ICAR-Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI)  to exchange information and experiences of various stakeholders on various issues relating to tobacco diversification.
  • In addition to above, DAC&FW is also supplementing the efforts of the States through implementation of various Crop Development Programmes on Agriculture/Horticulture crops.
  • The research work carried out by ICAR- CTRI, revealed that a remunerative cropping system rather than a sole crop can be a viable alternative to sole tobacco crop.
  • Alternative crops/cropping systems like maize, wheat, ragi, cotton, soybean, mustard, castor, groundnut, black gram, red gram, green gram, chilly, chickpea, potato, ginger, sugarcane, turmeric, moringa, oil palm etc. have been identified for the tobacco growing areas in different states.

Source: The Hindu

 

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