Polity & Governance
- Health Ministry to roll out measles-rubella vaccine
- India’s first international exchange inaugurated at GIFT city
Environment & Ecology
- New fault in Indian Ocean may trigger earthquakes in future: study
- Air pollution in India a national crisis — Greenpeace
- Green tribunal orders test of cosmetics containing microbeads
Bilateral & International Relations
- India-CERT Signs an MoU with US-CERT
Defence & Security Issues
- Khanderi, India’s Second Scorpene-Class Submarine, Launched
Key Facts for Prelims
- DEFCOM – 2017
- World’s first gender literature fest in Patna
- Guided Pinaka successfully test-fired
Polity & Governance
Health Ministry to roll out measles-rubella vaccine
The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare will roll out measles-rubella (MR) vaccine in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) in February 2017.
- The MR vaccine will be introduced in five states and Union territories viz. Goa, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
- The UIP basket already has ten vaccines of which measles is one, once MR vaccine is introduced the present monovalent measles will be discontinued.
- This vaccine will be introduced three years after the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) recommended the introduction of the MR vaccine in the UIP.
About Measles-rubella (MR):
- The disease commonly known as German Measles (or three-day measles) and is symptomatically similar to measles.
- It can have devastating consequences if a pregnant mother is infected with it and the foetus may be born with incurable congenital anomalies.
- Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain.
- The congenital rubella infection is believed to affect approximately 25,000 children born in India every year.
India’s first international exchange inaugurated at GIFT city
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s first international exchange India INX at the International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) of GIFT (Gujarat International Financial Tech) City Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
About India INX:
- India INX is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
- It will enable Indian firms to compete on equal footing with offshore firms.
- India INX will initially trade in equity derivatives, currency derivatives, commodity derivatives including index and Stocks. Subsequently, it will offer depository receipts and bonds once required infrastructure is ready.
- It will work for 22 hours in a day working from sunrise to sunset i.e. starting when Japan exchanges begin and close when US markets end.
- It will have 250 trading members including commodity and overseas brokers.
- India INX is one of the most advanced technology platforms with turnaround time of 4 seconds.
Significance of India INX:
- India INX will facilitate international investors and NRIs to trade from anywhere in the world.
- It will provide benefits in terms of waiver of security transaction tax, commodity transaction tax, dividend distribution tax, long term capital gain tax and income tax.
Environment & Ecology
New fault in Indian Ocean may trigger earthquakes in future: study
Scientists have found a new plate boundary being formed on the floor of the Indian Ocean as a result of the largest earthquake that shook the Andaman-Sumatra region in 2012.
- Scientists warn that the new fault system could trigger more quakes in the future.
- Researchers have found evidence for this plate on the floor of the Indian Ocean in the Wharton Basin.
- The discovery was based on the study of seismic data recorded before, during and after the 2012 quakes and sea floor depth analysis by venturing into the ocean aboard a research vessel.
- Scientists created a high-resolution imagery of the sea floor by using data which unveiled deformations that had occurred on the Indo-Australian Plate.
- It showed that the plate had broken along a 1,000 km fracture zone due to 2012 earthquakes, resulting in a new plate boundary and likely to be the site of future fault-slip earthquakes.
- The analysis showed a new fault system had developed in the area off the coast of Sumatra that was involved in the 2012 earthquakes.
How this plate boundary may have been formed?
Slip-strike earthquake occurs when two plates slide horizontally against one another. As a result, earthquake causes deformations that occur in plates distant from fault lines as pressure builds up across a plate. These earthquakes can lead to inter-plate earthquakes and cause a plate to break, resulting in a new boundary and this in turn can lead to even more quakes.
This similar scenario is believed to happened in 2012 when two earthquakes struck the Andaman-Sumatran region (north-west part) of the Indian Ocean which was the largest inter-plate earthquakes ever recorded.[Ref: The Hindu]
Air pollution in India a national crisis — Greenpeace
A report released by Greenpeace India shows that deadly air pollution is not a problem restricted to Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) or even to India’s metros but a national problem that is killing 1.2 million Indians every year.
Highlights of the study:
- Air pollution is costing the economy an estimated 3 percent of GDP.
- The study shows that there are virtually no places in India complying with World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) standards.
- Except for a few places in southern India which complied with NAAQ norms, the entire country is experiencing a public health crisis due to high air pollution levels.
- While air quality in North and Central India saw dangerous levels of particulate matter, South India appeared to have comparatively cleaner air.
- Of the 168 cities studied by Greenpeace India, 154 were found to have an average particulate matter level higher than the national standard.
- All 10 of the least polluted cities surveyed were in the South and the East: eight in Karnataka and one each in Odisha and Tamil Nadu.
- Looking at the sources of pollution, the report found that fossil fuels were the biggest contributors to the particulate matter.
- The study has noted that due to the Himalayas and the cooler weather as well as big industrial clusters, the levels of pollution are higher in the North. Southern India has the benefit of the mixing of sea breeze. However, pollution is a national-level problem and has to be treated as such.
- The report says, if the country is to develop, fighting air pollution has to be a priority.
Ranking of the cities:
- The report ranked the cities based on the annual average of PM10, which are all particles less than 10 microns in diameter. These include the very harmful fine particles, PM2.5.
- Delhi was found to be the most polluted city, with the annual average for PM10 being 268 micrograms per cubic metre, or over four times the 60 micrograms/cubic metre limit prescribed in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards of the Central Pollution Control Board.
- Ghaziabad, Allahabad and Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and Faridabad in Haryana followed closely, making for the worst five cities in terms of PM10 levels, the annual average concentrations being four times or more than the standard.
Green tribunal orders test of cosmetics containing microbeads
The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre to test cosmetic products containing microbeads.
- The ruling follows a plea which sought a ban on the use of microbeads on the ground they are extremely dangerous for aquatic life and environment.
- The court also said that it is the duty of the government to ensure that no “dangerous” product is allowed to be manufactured or sold to public and directed the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation to analyse the products in laboratory.
The order came on a petition seeking a complete ban on the use of microbeads in the manufacture, import and sale of various cosmetics or personal care products.
The petitioner also argued that the unregulated production and usage of plastic in microbeads in various cosmetic products and their excessive usage by the end user is leading to water pollution across the globe.
What are ‘Microplastics’ or Microbeads?
- Microplastics are plastic pieces or fibres measuring less than five milimetres. The microplastics or microbeads found in personal care products are always smaller than one milimetre.
- According to recent United Nations reports, these are dangerous for the aquatic life and environment.
What are microplastics or microbeads made of?
- Microplastics or microbeads used in personal care products are mainly made of polyethylene (PE), but can be also be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon.
- They are widely used in cosmetics as exfoliating agents and in personal care products such as toothpaste, as well as in biomedical and health science research.
- In simple words, these microbeads are so small that a person can barely feel them.
- Their roundness and particle size create a ball-bearing effects in creams and lotions, resulting in a silky texture and spread ability.
Why is it used for?
- Microbeads have been used to replace natural exfoliating materials.
- Their usage becoming more rampant because of their microspheres in different colours add visual appeal to cosmetic products.
What is the danger for them?
- Microbeads- largely non-biodegradable- flow through sewer systems and end up in seas and oceans, where they contribute to the huge chunk of plastic soup in the environment.
- Microbeads are also likely to be transported to wastewater treatment plants. Due to their small size, substantial portion passes through filtration system and enters aquatic environment.
Need for ban:
- Due to the unregulated production and usage of plastics in microbeads in various cosmetic products available in the market and the excessive usage of such products by the end users is leading to water pollution across the globe.
- Besides, after being washed down the drain, microbeads flow through sewer systems around the world before making their way into rivers and canals and ultimately, straight into the seas and oceans, where they contribute to the huge chunk of plastic soup in the environment.
Bilateral & International Relations
India-CERT Signs an MoU with US-CERT
India and USA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT- In) and US Department of Homeland Security on cooperation in field of cyber Security.
- The MoU has been signed for the continuation to the cooperation in cyber security areas between both countries on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
- It intends to promote closer co-operation and the exchange of information pertaining to the Cyber Security in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations of each economy.
Earlier US and India signed had inked MoU in July 2011 to promote a closer cooperation and timely exchange of information between the organizations of their respective Governments responsible for Cyber Security. Since, the regular interactions between US CERT and CERT-In are taking place to share the information and discuss cyber security related issues.
About the CERT-In:
CERT-In is nodal government agency that deals with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing in India.
- It is nodal department under the aegis of Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
- According to the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In is responsible for overseeing administration of the Act.
Objectives of the CERT-In:
Its objectives are to:
- Protect Indian cyberspace and software infrastructure against destructive and hacking activities.
- Strengthen security-related defence of the Indian Internet domain. Issue guidelines, vulnerability notes, advisories, and whitepapers regarding to information security practices, prevention, procedures, response and reporting of cyber security incidents.
Defence & Security Issues
Khanderi, India’s Second Scorpene-Class Submarine, Launched
INS Khanderi, the second Scorpene class submarine was launched at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
- It is the second of the six submarines being built at MDL in collaboration with France’s DCNS as part of Project 75 of Indian Navy.
- It has been named Khanderi, after the Island fort of Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji which played had vital role in ensuring their supremacy at sea in late 17th century. Khanderi is also name for Tiger Shark.
- The state-of-the-art features include superior stealth and ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapon.
- The attack from it can be launched with torpedoes, as well as tube-launched anti-ship missiles, whilst on surface or underwater. The stealth features gives it invulnerability, unmatched by many submarines.
- The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics.
- It can undertake multifarious types of missions typically undertaken by any modern submarine such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence gathering, area surveillance, mine laying etc.
- The first Khanderi was commissioned into the Indian Navy on December 6, 1968 and decommissioned on October 18, 1989 after more than 20 years of service.
- Under Project 75, six Scorpene submarines are being built with assistance and technology transfer from DCNS of France under deal signed in October 2005.
- The first of the series INS Kalvari is completing sea trials and will be commissioned shortly.
- The Scorpene project is critical for the Navy’s growth. At the moment, the Navy operates only 13 conventionally powered submarines and two nuclear submarines.
Key Facts for Prelims
DEFCOM – 2017
- The 2017 DEFCOM was recently inaugurated in Delhi.
- This year the theme for the conference is ‘Infrastructure and Skilled Human Resource for Digital Army’.
- DEFCOM is an annual seminar organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Corps of Signals of Indian Army.
- It is considered as the most seminal forum for interaction between the officers of the Armed Forces, Indian Industry, Academia and Research & Development (R&D) organisations on matters related to operational communication systems for the Army.
World’s first gender literature fest in Patna
- The world’s first ‘Gender Literature Festival’ will be held in Patna in the second week of April.
- The Gender Resource Centre of Bihar’s Women Development Corporation will be organising the festival.
- The objective of this initiative is to create a platform, to exchange ideas, and to share and learn experiences of renowned people in the field of gender based or focussed literature.
- The festival will also act as a platform to increase visibility for gender equity and advocacy in the State of Bihar.
Guided Pinaka successfully test-fired
- The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired the Pinaka Rocket converted to a Guided Pinaka from Chandipur (Odisha).
- Guided Pinaka is transformed version of the Pinaka Rocket Mark-II, which has evolved from Pinaka Mark-I.
- Guided Pinaka is equipped with a navigation, guidance and control kit. This conversion considerably enhances the range and accuracy of Pinaka.
- Pinaka is an unguided rocket weapon area system (WAS) with a range of 40 km. It meant to neutralise large areas with rapid salvos.
- Pinaka has capability to incorporate several types of warheads makes it deadly for the enemy as it can even destroy solid structures and bunkers.
- The quick reaction time and high rate of fire of the system gives an edge to the Army during a low amount conflict situation. It already has been inducted into Indian Army.