National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 6th December 2018

Soon, you may opt to withdraw your Aadhaar number

1

Topic: Polity and Governance

IN NEWS: The Union government is in the last stages of finalising a proposal to amend the Aadhaar Act to give all citizens an option to withdraw their Aadhaar number, including biometrics and data.

More on the Topic:

  • This follows the Supreme Court judgment in September that upheld the validity of Aadhaar, however, with certain riders.
  • The initial proposal was prepared by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It submitted that once a child turns 18, he/she will be given six months to decide if he/she wants to withdraw.
  • This proposal had been sent to the Law Ministry for vetting. The Ministry further recommended that the option to withdraw be made available to all citizens, and not be limited to a particular group.
  • However, the proposal, which will be sent to the Cabinet, is likely to benefit only those who do not have a PAN card or do not require one, as the court had upheld the linkage of PAN with Aadhaar.
  • In line with the court order, the proposal seeks to appoint an adjudicating officer to decide whether a person’s Aadhaar related data need to be disclosed in the interest of national security.
  • The court had also struck down Section 33(2), which allowed disclosure of Aadhaar information for national security reasons on the orders of an officer not below Joint Secretary. It had said an officer above Joint Secretary should consult a judicial officer and together take a call.
  • A Constitution Bench had struck down Section 57 of the Act that allows private entities to use the unique number for verification. The Bench also declared that seeking to link it with bank accounts and SIM cards was unconstitutional.

Source: The Hindu

‘Big bird’ to push high-speed data era

2

Topic: Science and Technology

IN NEWS: India’s first six-tonne-class ‘big bird’ in space, advanced communication satellite GSAT-11, was put into from the European spaceport in Guiana in South America.

More on the Topic:

  • Its mission is to enable high-speed satellite-based Internet services to users in rural, remote areas and to businesses down home over the next 15 years.
  • The satellite will meet most of the requirements of providing broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible village panchayats under Bharat Net which is part of the Digital India initiative.
  • GSAT-11 carries eight transponders for the first time in the complex and efficient Ka frequency band; and 38 transponders in the Ku band. The Ka band enables smart coverage of places with multiple and reusable spot beams.
  • This, along with GSAT-29 and GSAT-19, smaller satellites already launched from within India, will herald a new era of satellite-driven reliable high-throughput data services.
  • Villages, remote locations and VSAT operators who drive private and public sector data services will be the main gainers.
  • The heaviest ever to be built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the 5,854-kg satellite was launched from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou.

Bharat Net:

  • Earlier called the National Optical Fibre Network) aims to provide 5 lakh village panchayats with e-banking, e-education, e-health and e-governance among others through reliable broadband connectivity.

Source: The Hindu

Witness protection scheme

Topic: Government Policies

In news:  The Supreme Court brought in place a witness protection regime in the country noting that one of the main reasons for witnesses turning hostile is that they are not given security by the State.

More on the Topic:

  • Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 will come into effect immediately across all States.
  • Under it, witness protection may be as simple as providing a police escort to the witness up to the courtroom or, in more complex cases involving an organised criminal group, taking extraordinary measures such as offering temporary residence in a safe house, giving a new identity, and relocation at an undisclosed place.
  • The act is aimed to enable a witness to depose fearlessly and truthfully, would be the law of the land till Parliament enacted suitable legislation.

Back ground:

  • The issue came up when the Supreme Court was hearing a public interest litigation plea seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu.
  • The Bench said witnesses feared serious consequences if they deposed against Asaram. “It is alleged that as many as 10 witnesses have already been attacked and three witnesses have been killed,” in the particular case.

Source: The Hindu

World’s first baby born via womb transplanted from dead donor

4

Topic: Science and Technology

In news: A woman in Brazil who received a womb transplanted from a deceased donor has given birth to a baby girl in the first successful case of its kind.

More on the Topic:

  • In the Brazilian case, the recipient had been born without a uterus due to a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-KŶster-Hauser syndrome. The donor was 45 and died of a stroke.
  • The current norm for receiving a womb transplant is that the organ would come from a live family member willing to donate it.
  • The outcomes and effects of womb donations from live and deceased donors have yet to be compared.
  • The first baby born after a live donor womb transplant was in Sweden in 2013. Scientists have so far reported a total of 39 procedures of this kind, resulting in 11 live births.
  • Experts estimate that infertility affects around 10 to 15 percent of couples of reproductive age worldwide. Of this group, around one in 500 women have uterine problems.

Source: The Hindu

Raising crops in arsenic contaminated soil

5

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news: An Indian scientist in the U.K. is working on a way to grow crops in arsenic-contaminated soil, a study which is likely to have wide ranging impact for farmers in northeastern India.

More on the Topic:

  • The scientists are trying to manipulate cytokinin hormone in rice plants through genetic engineering and we expect to increase the roots detoxification capacity of the transgenic rice.
  • Presence of arsenic in soil is a worldwide problem. The chemical is carcinogenic and is naturally found in water supplies and soil, particularly in parts of North-east India and Bangladesh.

How Arsenic reaches the food chain:

  • Arsenate is the most abundant form of arsenic and is structurally similar to phosphate. Therefore, it is easily incorporated in to plant cells through phosphate uptake pathway — the process of the roots absorbing nutrients.
  • However, when a plant absorbs arsenic it can translocate it up to the edible part of the plant — ultimately arsenic enters food chain. Plants have an inherent capacity to cope with arsenic stress by producing metal-chelating peptides called phyochelatins (PCs).
  • PCs detoxify the arsenic and restrict the movement of arsenic in the roots, which in turn helps to reduce the root-to-shoot translocation of arsenic. Phyochelatins are therefore essential in trapping the arsenic absorbed by the plant in the roots.
  • Scientists wanted to make plants with more phytochelatins in the roots, to stop any of the arsenic escaping and travelling up the shoot to the edible part of the plant.
  • This is being done by making transgenic plants with reduced cytokinin hormone in the roots, which means phytochelatin is boosted and can detoxify and hold more arsenic in the root.

Source: The Hindu

India third largest contributor to carbon emission

6

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news: According to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project, India, the third-highest contributor, is projected to see emissions rise by 6.3% from 2017.

More on the Topic:

  • The 2.7% projected global rise in 2018 has been driven by appreciable growth in coal use for the second year in a row, and sustained growth in oil and gas use.
  • Global carbon emissions are set to hit an all-time high of 37.1 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2018.
  • CO2 emissions have now risen for a second year, after three years of little to no growth from 2014 to 2016. The rise in 2017 was 1.6%.
  • The 10 biggest emitters in 2018 are China, U.S., India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Canada. The EU as a region of countries ranks third. China’s emissions accounted for 27% of the global total, having grown an estimated 4.7% in 2018 and reaching a new all-time high.
  • Emissions in the U.S., which has withdrawn from its commitment to the Paris Agreement, account for 15% of the global total, and look set to have grown about 2.5% in 2018 after several years of decline.
  • Though coal use contributed to the rise in 2018 from last year, it still remains below its historical high in 2013 but may exceed that if current growth continues.

Significance of the Study:

  • Limiting global warming to the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping the global temperature increase this century to well below 2°C, would need carbon dioxide emission to decline by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by about 2050.

Source: The Hindu

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